Nuclear Security Summit: Russia to Close Last Plutonium Reactor

WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2010 (ENS) – “Nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials,” said the leaders and ministers from 47 nations in their message tonight at the conclusion of the landmark Nuclear Security Summit.

The major nuclear powers were among those at the round table today at the Washington Convention Center – China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, India and Pakistan. They all agreed to the “shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” and stated, “we also all share the objective of nuclear security.”

“Success will require responsible national actions and sustained and effective international cooperation,” the participants state in their final message. “We welcome and join President [Barack] Obama’s call to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years, as we work together to enhance nuclear security.”

At the summit, 29 of the participating governments announced measures they have taken or are planning to strengthen nuclear security and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Participants in the Nuclear Security Summit stand for a moment of silence to honor Polish President Lech Kaczynski and all those lost in a plane crash last week. (Photo courtesy The White House)

Russian President Dimitry Medvedev announced that his government will shut down its last operating plutonium reactor. The ADE-2 reactor has been producing weapons-grade plutonium for nearly 52 years in the formerly secret Siberian city of Zheleznogorsk.

In addition, Russia and the United States signed an agreement making nuclear arms reductions irreversible and reducing nuclear dangers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed the document that updates the 10-year-old commitment of each country to dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium and envisions disposition of more weapons-grade plutonium over time. The initial combined amount, 68 metric tons, represents enough material for 17,000 nuclear weapons.

Both countries aim to begin actual disposition by 2018, after the necessary facilities are completed and operating.

“Much of the decommissioned warheads will be dismantled and their payloads will be converted into peaceful products,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Ekho Moskvy radio on Monday, according to the official state news agency ITAR-Tass.

“Plutonium will be disposed of and used at nuclear power plants. The Americans are doing the same,” Ryabkov said. Russia will spend the equivalent of US$2.5 billion on the program while the United States will invest $400 million.

Opening the working session of the summit this morning, President Obama said, “This is an unprecedented gathering to address an unprecedented threat. 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 nuclear attack has gone up.”

“Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations,” said Obama. “Just the smallest amount of plutonium – about the size of an apple – could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people.”

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Nuclear Security Summit (Photo courtesy The White House)

“Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it,” Obama said. “Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world, causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability.”

“In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security, to our collective security,” said Obama.

At the summit, Mexico, the United States, and Canada reached agreement to work together, and with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to convert the fuel in Mexico’s research reactor.

President Felipe Calderon expressed “the strong commitment of Mexico to prevent and suppress nuclear terrorism; with this kind of cooperation with the IAEA and our North American partners, we definitely contribute to reducing the risks associated with illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.”

President Obama said, “I welcome this critical step forward, which is a signal of our strong trilateral partnership, and our shared commitment to nuclear security in North America.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper added that “this nuclear security project demonstrates that collective action can deliver concrete results.”

At the summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today proposed a series of high-level conferences to continue global efforts to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear materials.

Although the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was adopted by the General Assembly five years ago to the day, he said, only 65 countries, barely a third of UN Member States, have ratified it, he told the summit participants. “This is far from satisfactory,” said Ban.

Ban underscored the need for accurate accounting and transparency of all stockpiles of fissile materials and for a reliable international treaty to keep their production in check.

“Without a verifiable and legally binding fissile material treaty, other efforts will amount to only half-measures,” he said.

Ban has repeatedly urged the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament to immediately start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

“To spur this process along, I will consider convening a meeting of the Conference on Disarmament at the ministerial level during this year’s General Assembly session in September,” Ban offered.

Ban also proposed strengthening the role of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, noting that today’s summit communique called for enhanced engagement with the nuclear industry.

Highlights of National Commitments at the Nuclear Security Summit

Armenia: Ratified International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, passed new export control law

Argentina: Joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism; moving toward the ratification of the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and 2005 Amendment of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials

Australia: Moving toward the ratification of the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

Belgium: Contributing $300,000 to International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund

Canada: Returning a large amount of spent highly enriched uranium fuel from their medical isotope production reactor to the United States; championing the extension of the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction; funding highly enriched uranium removals from Mexico and Vietnam; hosting and funding a World Institute of Nuclear Security best practices workshop in Ottawa; unveiling $100 million in new bilateral security cooperation with Russia

Chile: Removed all highly enriched uranium (18kgs) in March 2010

China: Announce cooperation on nuclear security Center of Excellence

Egypt: Passed new comprehensive nuclear law in March 2010 that includes nuclear security, criminalization of sabotage and illicit trafficking provisions as well as envisaging an independent regulatory authority

France: Ratifying the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear materials; inviting an International Physical Protection Advisory Service security review from the International Atomic Energy Agency; incorporating training in nuclear security at the European Nuclear Safety Training and Tutoring Institute and the International Nuclear Energy Institute (announced during March 2010 Paris nuclear energy conference)

Finland: Invited an International Physical Protection Advisory Service security review from the International Atomic Energy Agency

Germany: Moving toward ratifying 2005 Amendment of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials

Georgia: Signed instrument of approval for International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism on April 7, 2010

India: Announcing the creation of a Nuclear Energy Center with a nuclear security component

Italy: Signed a Megaports agreement (to install detection equipment at ports) with U.S.; establishing a school of nuclear security in Trieste, in collaboration with the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to train nuclear personnel from developing countries

Japan: Launching an integrated regional support center; research and development on detection and forensics; contributing new resources to International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund; hosting and funding a World Institute of Nuclear Security best practices conference

Kazakhstan: Converting a highly enriched uranium research reactor and eliminating remaining highly enriched uranium; cooperative work on BN-350 rector shutdown and fuel security; hosting a Global Initiative Activity in June; considering a International Nuclear Security Training Center.

Malaysia: Passed new export control law

Mexico: Converting a highly enriched uranium research reactor and eliminating remaining highly enriched uranium working through IAEA

New Zealand: Contributing to International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund; contributing to the U.S. Nuclear Smuggling Outreach Initiative

Norway: Contributing $3.3 million over the next four years to the IAEA nuclear security fund (flexible funds for use for activities in developing countries); contributing $500,000 in additional support to Kazakhstan’s efforts to upgrade portal monitors to prevent nuclear smuggling as part of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Philippines: Joining the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Republic of Korea: Hosting 2012 Nuclear Security Summit; hosting a Global Initiative activity

Russia: Signing Plutonium Disposition protocol; ending plutonium production; contributing to International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund

Saudi Arabia: Hosting a UNSCR 1540 conference for Gulf Cooperation Council

Thailand: Joining the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Ukraine: Removing all highly enriched uranium by next Summit—half of it by year’s end

United Arab Emirates: Signed a Megaports Agreement with the U.S.

United Kingdom: Contributing $6 million to International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund; inviting an International Physical Protection Advisory Service security review from the International Atomic Energy Agency; ratification of the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and 2005 Amendment of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials

Vietnam: Converting a highly enriched uranium research reactor; joining the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

IAEA: Completing final review of the next revision of INFCIRC 225, the IAEA nuclear physical security guidance document

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