Early results from nuclear summit

13 April 2010

Obama with King Abdullah (White House / Lawrence Jackson)
King Abdullah II of Jordan with US President Barack Obama
(Image: White House / Lawrence Jackson)

    

The summit on nuclear security taking place in Washington DC has seen announcements on its first day.

 

Both Canada and Ukraine vowed to quickly reduce their stocks of the high-enriched uranium (HEU) that could in theory be used in a nuclear weapon. At present small amounts of this material are held at a great number of small facilities such as research reactors around the world. The summit is intended to start a fresh effort to bring it all under the best levels of security, to "lock it down and deny it to non-state actors" within four years, according to White House spokesmen.

 

US President Barack Obama is hosting the summit, which boasts some 47 national delegations and began yesterday. Spokesmen described Obama's itinerary, which includes bilateral talks with many leaders, including from China, India, Jordan, Pakistan and Ukraine. Also in attendance are the heads of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations as well as the President of the European Council.

 

The summit is intended to be a 'genuine discussion' of the challenges countries face in securing their materials and bringing into force the various treaties which will strengthen the global nuclear security regime. When the summit closes later today, there should be a communiqué summing up the thoughts of the parties and a work plan to go forward.

 

The White House said it sees the goals of the summit as a major part of Obama's overall nuclear security strategy. The summit, the recent START signing and Nuclear Posture Review, White House spokesmen said, reinforce one another: "We believe that they... incentivise nations to cooperate and to live up to their obligations, while isolating those who don't; and that ultimately they do a great deal to enhance the security not just of the USA but of the world." 

 

Pledges

 

Yesterday Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper promised that Canada would work with the USA to return the used HEU fuel stored at the Chalk River Laboratories. His statement said the work would start this year and be finished by 2018.

 

This was followed up by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who wants to move all his country's HEU to a central secure store within two years. Ultimately this is likely to be returned to Russia as the original supplier from the Soviet era, although the USA could also be a final keeper.

 

Late last week it was announced that Chile had successfully returned all its own stocks of HEU. This totalled 13.6 kg of used HEU from the La Reina Nuclear Centre, in Santiago as well as 4.3 kg of slightly irradiated HEU and 0.3 kg of fresh fuel from the Lo Aguirre Nuclear Centre. In addition came over 400 US-origin radiological sources from the medical, industrial and research sectors.

 

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

 

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