Japanese nuclear power plant 390.
(photo credit: Issei Kato/Reuters)
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 demonstrated only too clearly that even the
unimaginable can happen. One of the most serious security concerns the world
faces is the danger of nuclear terrorism. A single terrorist with a nuclear bomb
could unleash massive destruction.
When US President Barack Obama
presented his vision of “a world without nuclear weapons” in Prague in 2009, he
emphasized that nuclear security is the first step and foundation for realizing
the ultimate goal.
The Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010,
initiated by Obama, was the first occasion on which nuclear security and safety
were discussed at the highest level. Korea will host the Second Nuclear Security
Summit on March 26 this year. The Seoul Summit is expected to be the largest
gathering of its kind, attended by more than 50 heads of government including
Israel, and key international organizations.
While the Washington Summit
of 2010 was a great success in heightening awareness of the dangers of nuclear
terrorism, the Seoul Summit aims to expand and deepen international cooperation
for the prevention of nuclear terrorism.
Nuclear security and preventing
nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorist groups or rogue
regimes emerged as a real concern following the collapse of the Soviet Union in
1991. The challenge of securing the loose nuclear material left in the former
Soviet Republic was successfully negotiated and handled to the great relief of
the world community at that time.
There are approximately 1,600 tons of
enriched uranium and 500 tons of plutonium in the world, which could be used to
produce no less than 126,500 nuclear bombs. It is well known that al-Qaida and
other terrorist groups want to acquire nuclear materials. According to the IAEA,
some 2,000 cases of theft or loss of nuclear and radioactive materials and
substances including highly enriched uranium have been reported over the past 20
The safety of nuclear facilities has emerged as an even more
pressing issue in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011. The
Fukushima disaster has emphasized the need for setting clear safety measures to
be taken in cases of natural disaster or terrorist attack. Once they
happen, both can lead to similar consequences.
In this regard, the
Nuclear Security Summit has a key role to play. Indeed, In the era of
globalization, so-called universal issues should be dealt with through the
efforts of the international community. The nuclear threat does not respect any
borders – it is not the concern of one or two states alone. It has the potential
to cause enormous damage that could be felt in many places – and the
consequences would last for a long time to come.
The Seoul Summit is a
unique gathering as it brings together both nuclear and non-nuclear powers, NPT
and non-NPT countries, developed and developing countries. This summit shall
present an opportunity for world leaders of different backgrounds to agree on
measures for a world free of nuclear terrorism.
Israel is no stranger to
terrorism and nuclear terrorism threats. The current reality in the Middle East
poses major challenges. The fall of some neighboring regimes and the instability
of others has lead to an increased risk of nuclear terrorism. Indeed, Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor
emphasized the importance of this issue while attending the Washington Summit in
Korea, just like Israel, is at the forefront of the
threat. The two countries are under constant threat and intimidation by
regimes that are no strangers to nuclear capabilities.
Seoul was chosen
as host of the forthcoming Summit not least because the stability of the Korean
Peninsula is of great concern to the international community, mainly because of
the nuclear weapons program persistently pursued by North Korea. It is our
sincere hope that the Seoul Summit will contribute to a peaceful resolution of
the North Korea nuclear issue.
Since Korea and Israel are located in two
of the most potentially volatile parts of the world, they can understand each
other’s security and stability predicaments and problems. Korea looks forward to
Israel contributing in meaningful ways to the success of the Seoul
Summit. This will tremendously benefit both countries and indeed the
world.The writer is the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Israel.