Nuclear security summit enters 2nd day with call for action

08:24, April 14, 2010      

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The Nuclear Security Summit called for national actions and international measures to ensure the safety of nuclear materials as Day Two of the summit began on Tuesday with two plenary sessions planned.

Citing nuclear terrorism as the immediate threat, U.S. President Barack Obama in his opening remarks at the summit called on world leaders to prevent nuclear materials from flowing into the hands of terrorists.

"Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history -- the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up," Obama said.

The U.S. president said if terrorist groups like al Qaeda get the nuclear materials and nuclear weapons, the world would be facing a catastrophe.

Obama also announced that South Korea will host the next nuclear summit in 2012.

"I'm so pleased to announce that President Lee (Myung-bak) has agreed to host the next nuclear security summit in the Republic of Korea in two years," said Obama.

"This represents South Korea's leadership, regionally and globally," he said.

Obama will be chairing the day-long plenary sessions that will focus on how to respond to the threat of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorist groups and "non-state actors."

In a speech delivered at the summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao called for concerted action by all countries to enhance nuclear security while stressing the need to properly address the challenge.

"The potential threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be neglected and the risk of nuclear material diversion and illicit trafficking is on the rise," Hu said.

China has made vigorous efforts to build nuclear security capacity, honoring international obligations, taking an active part in international cooperation and actively providing nuclear security assistance to other developing countries, Hu said.

The plenary session in the morning focused on national actions that countries can take to secure nuclear material that is under their control and to deal with the risk of nuclear smuggling within their territories.

Then there will be a lunch session with the heads of delegations that will focus on the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the nuclear security area.

While Obama is hosting a working lunch with the heads of delegations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will be hosting a lunch for their counterparts at the meeting.

Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to sign and speak on the recently concluded protocol to amend the U.S.-Russian 2000 agreement on eliminating excess weapons-grade plutonium from defense programs in the early afternoon.

This signing represents a major and essential step toward enabling full implementation of the two countries' obligation to safely and transparently dispose of such excess weapons-grade plutonium, enough material for several thousand nuclear weapons, according to the U.S. State Department.

The afternoon plenary session will focus on the international measures that countries can take to strengthen the international system for dealing with nuclear security.

That includes two international conventions -- the International Convention for the Protection of Nuclear Materials and the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

There will also be discussion about some of the efforts that are in place, including the G8 Global Partnership and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

Obama is expected to give a press conference at the end of the two day-meeting. A summit communique and a working plan are expected as well.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the summit on international actions to secure nuclear materials and prevent illicit trafficking.



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