A few days before Seoul hosted the official Nuclear Security Summit in late March, experts met to discuss progress on nuclear security. The keynote speaker, Dr. Graham Allison from Harvard University, suggested a strategy of three “No’s” to reduce future nuclear risks: no loose nuclear weapons or materials; no new national enrichment or reprocessing facilities; and no new nuclear weapon states. This strategy links traditional “nuclear security”—physical protection of nuclear material—with nuclear
nonproliferation and fuel cycle management. Yet at the summit a few days later, the 52 heads of state, along with leaders of four international organizations on nuclear terrorism, focused on doing exactly the opposite: separating out nuclear security from nonproliferation, and putting as much distance between the growth of nuclear power and nuclear risks as possible. The result: underwhelming progress and no surprises.
The 2012 Seoul summit was the midway point for securing the world’s most vulnerable
nuclear materials in four years, with the Netherlands agreeing to host the next summit in
2014. The Seoul agenda primarily targeted nuclear material security, while stressing the
importance of other topics: security of radiological sources, information and
transportation security, combating illicit trafficking, nuclear safety in the post-Fukushima
environment, and fostering a nuclear security culture. Korean officials emphasized their
intention to focus on practical progress in nuclear security, but also to expand the
objectives of the summit to engage a wider audience.