World Leaders Meet in Seoul to Improve Nuclear Security

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Byline: Andrew Salmon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

SEOUL -- The two-day 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, which opens here Monday, aims to prevent nuclear terrorism by improving international cooperation and protective measures for atomic facilities and materials.

Key topics include nuclear safety in the aftermath of Japan's post-tsunami nuclear reactor meltdowns last year and the security of atomic materials.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, 2,164 incidents involving the unauthorized possession, loss or theft of nuclear and radioactive materials have occurred between 1993 and 2011. An estimated 1,600 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and 500 tons of plutonium, which can be weaponized, are scattered worldwide.

More than 50 world leaders, including President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are expected to attend the Seoul summit, which folllows 2010's inaugural nuclear security meeting in Washington.

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will build on the Washington summit, which gathered the world's political will on nuclear security, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in a news briefing. It will be a 'peace summit' to give future generations a more peaceful and safer world.

Mr. Kim said he hopes concrete steps on nuclear security will be taken in Seoul.

First of all, we will renew the commitment of leaders on the importance of nuclear terrorism: This is very important - to highlight the political impetus, said summit spokesman Han Chung-hee. Second, we hope for substantial progress on HEU and plutonium minimization. And we have to show commitment to reinforce international security norms and mechanisms.

The summit is expected to finalize agreements and wrap up Tuesday with a press conference in which its achievements will be outlined in a Seoul Communique. …