Tuesday, 25 September 2012

2012 Global Nuclear Summit, Seoul & Seoul Communique

The "2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit", is the largest summit in the security field that discusses international cooperative measures to protect nuclear materials and facilities from terrorist groups, with participation from more than 53 heads of state and international organizations. 

The Seoul Communiqué sets out the following specific actions in the above 11 areas:[14]
  • Eliminating and disposing of highly enriched uranium (HEU) no longer in use
  • Minimizing the use of HEU
    • Encouraging voluntary announcements by the end of 2013 of specific actions to minimize the use of HEU
  • Welcoming international efforts to develop high-density low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel for the purpose of replacing HEU fuels in research reactors and medical isotope production facilities
  • Seeking to bring the 2005 amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) into effect by 2014
  • Welcoming an international conference in 2013 organized by the IAEA to coordinate nuclear security activities
  • Encouraging voluntary contributions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund
  • Developing options for national policies on HEU management within the framework of the IAEA
  • Encouraging national measures and international cooperation to prevent radiological terrorism
  • Strengthening the physical protection of nuclear facilities and enhancing emergency response capabilities in the case of radiological accidents while comprehensively addressing nuclear security and nuclear safety concerns
  • Strengthening the management of spent nuclear fuels and radioactive wastes
  • Strengthening the protection of nuclear materials and radioactive sources in transport
    • Encouraging the establishment of a system to effectively manage and track such materials on a national level
  • Preventing the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials
    • Strengthening technical capabilities to search for and detect illicitly trafficked nuclear materials and encouraging the sharing of information on persons involved in such activities by cooperating with the INTERPOL
  • Building nuclear forensics capacity to identify the source of illicitly trafficked nuclear materials
  • Welcoming the establishment of Centers of Excellence for training and education in nuclear security, and supporting networking activities between each Center
  • Strengthening the nuclear security culture
    • Encouraging the participation of industry, academia, the media, NGOs and other civil actors in the discussions on nuclear security
  • Strengthening the protection of sensitive nuclear security-related information and enhancing cyber security at nuclear facilities
  • Promoting international cooperation, such as the provision of assistance to countries for the enhancement of national nuclear security capabilities upon request
  • The hosting of the next Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands

There are a number of points particularly worthy of note in the Seoul Communiqué. 
Firstly, it provides important timelines for advancing nuclear security objectives, such as the target year (end of 2013) for states to announce voluntary actions on minimizing the use of HEU and the goal year (2014) for bringing the amended CPPNM into effect. 
Secondly, it reflects the need to address both the issues of nuclear security and nuclear safety in a coherent manner for the sustainable peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It also emphasizes the need to better secure spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. 
Thirdly, it sets out specific measures to prevent radiological terrorism, an issue which was only briefly touched upon at the Washington Summit. 1

India and the Summit
India’s statement at 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) is a text book example of rhetoric and evasion. Split into eight separate segments covering cooperation, legal obligations and processes four major themes pervade the entire text; nuclear terrorism, India’s non-proliferation credentials, a rhetorical commitment to international cooperation on safety and security issues, and finally a focus on training and capacity-building. 

The clearest Indian imperative in India’s progress report is the need to contain nuclear terrorism. There is a cogent reason for this given that India is the most likely first target of nuclear terrorism either as a subset of independent malignant actors given India’s porous borders or by being targeted intentionally by a sub-state proxy. This seems to weigh heavily on the Indian mind since most references are to illegal proliferation. The obvious reference here is to Pakistan, its history of proliferation and the close nexus between the military and the quasi-state nature of several high capacity terrorist organizations operating out of there. The first tangible India provides is the passage of several related laws. While these seldom translate into concrete action on the ground, at a legal level at least India seems to be delivering tangibles in pursuit of its commitment to stem outwards proliferation. 

Another underlying theme that emerged was India’s need to explain its integration within the normative nuclear regime without actually integrating with all its mechanisms and institutions. As a result the stress placed in India’s national report on the passage of laws and tightening of regulations governing the export of nuclear materials and technology contrasted with the lack of movement on ‘proliferation’, ‘nuclear terrorism’ and ‘smuggling’. This was primarily to enable inward imports (which from a certain point of view counted as inwards proliferation) of materials and technology while reinforcing the walls against geopolitical opponents acquiring the same capability – in essence therefore it was reinforcing the creation of India’s unique niche within the global nuclear order as being within the fold while staying outside the NPT. This was buttressed by the move towards an independent nuclear regulatory authority as is the norm. A case was evidently being built to link the separation of India’s civil and military nuclear programmes (and hence greater normative adherence) to increased cooperation with the nuclear haves. 

Disappointingly, much of the document seems rich in rhetoric not backed up by concrete steps. For example much activity (such as participating in or hosting meetings) is confused with achievement. This seems consistent with India’s institutional record of keeping internal safety and security measures away from international scrutiny. This seems a ploy to keep the avenues of horizontal proliferation of knowledge open from the civil to military programmes. Given the ‘credible minimum’ approach of India’s nuclear doctrine, such secrecy is critical to credibility, and while making statements supporting peer review in generalities, India seems unlikely to operationalize any peer review mechanisms in the near future. 

The only deliverable that India offered and operationalized was in the field of training and capacity-building. To this end India has conducted several training seminars on nuclear security cooperation. The Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) seems to be in the advanced stages of construction with India awaiting the conclusion of practical arrangements and protocols with the IAEA. Additionally it seems India has also shared radiological medical equipment with Vietnam, Namibia and Sri Lanka – specifically linked to cobalt. India’s single point focus on proliferation-linked nuclear terrorism seems rather incredulous here since the medical cobalt 60 incident in Delhi in 2011 pointed to avenues of a dirty bomb precisely due to a lack of serious introspection on inadequate material management systems in place. 

The most curious aspect of the NSS was the Prime Minister’s speech while placing the report on record. This rehashed the long discarded and irrelevant Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan and linked universal disarmament to nuclear safety. This is perplexing given India’s main thrust was nuclear terrorism which removes the use of such weapons from the ambit of state-to-state actors and places them in the hands of quasi-state entities who do not play by such rules. The report conspicuously avoids making such a contrived link. Such a factual error in the Prime Minister’s speech which would have been vetted at the highest levels of the nuclear bureaucracy can mean one of two things. Either the fallacy of the linkage is not understood by India or the more probable alternative – that India’s rhetoric deliberately assumes unrealistic maximalist positions to mask the fact that its policies have always subjugated nuclear safety and security to realpolitik concerns.  2
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Nuclear_Security_Summit
2. http://www.defpro.com/news/details/34395/

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