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New Report Finds NSS Process on Track, But More Work To Do
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For Immediate Release: March 13, 2012

Media Contacts: Michelle Cann, Senior Budget and Policy Analyst, PGS (202-332-1412); Tom Collina, Research Director, ACA (202-463-8270 x104); Kelsey Davenport, Scoville Fellow, ACA (202-463-8270, x114).

(Washington, D.C.) An independent report released today ahead of the March 26-27, 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul finds that states are on track to meet most of the national commitments they made in 2010 to improve the security of nuclear-weapons usable materials worldwide, but that more work, political will, and financial resources are still required to address the ongoing challenge of safeguarding nuclear material.

"States have made significant progress on their 2010 summit national commitments, but that is only half of the story," said Michelle Cann, Senior Budget and Policy Analyst at Partnership for Global Security (PGS) and co-author of the report.

"The commitments on the books will not get the job done. To prevent nuclear terrorism in the years ahead, the global nuclear security system must grow and adapt to new threats," she said.

"Substantial work remains if the summit process is to meet its goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials," said Kelsey Davenport, Herbert J. Scoville Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association (ACA) and co-author of the report.

"The 2010 summit focused attention and galvanized action to better secure nuclear materials, but the actions states took on were never meant to be comprehensive. It would be a huge missed opportunity if states do not make significant new commitments and adopt higher nuclear security standards in Seoul to better safeguard vulnerable nuclear material," she said.

The report, The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of National Commitments, published jointly by ACA and PGS, concludes that approximately 80 percent of the 67 national commitments made by 30 global leaders at the 2010 summit in Washington have been completed.

The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit is expected to review states' progress on implementing their commitments and to set the course for future efforts to secure weapons-usable nuclear materials. A third summit is planned for the Netherlands in 2014.

"There is a danger that early successes of the summit process will lead to complacency," said Cann. "It is important to recognize that the nuclear security challenge will not be solved once the 2010 commitments are completed. The Seoul summit must acknowledge that nuclear material security is a long-term challenge that will require stable funding and a global commitment," she said.

"A core achievement of the 2010 summit was that the 47 nations in attendance reached consensus that nuclear terrorism is among the top global security challenges and that strong nuclear material security measures are the most effective way to prevent it," said Davenport. "As a result, vitally important progress has been achieved across the globe," she said.

The 47-page report assesses implementation of commitments by category and by country. Examples of progress made on national commitments over the last two years include:

  • Kazakhstan secured over 13 tons of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium;
  • Chile eliminated its entire stockpile of HEU;
  • The United States and Russia signed a plutonium disposition protocol obligating each country to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium, which is enough weapon's grade material for 17,000 nuclear weapons;
  • Russia ended plutonium production; and
  • Ukraine eliminated two-thirds of its HEU (over 100 kilograms) and is expected to clean out its remaining stockpile by the 2012 summit.

Despite this progress, major work remains beyond the commitments that have been made so far.

"The nuclear material security regime has improved over the past ten years, but it still lags behind the nuclear safety, nonproliferation, and arms control regimes," said Kenneth Luongo, President of PGS. "The 2012 summit provides a window of opportunity to begin the process of reframing the nuclear material security debate and initiating some key changes in strategy."

"We cannot wait for the current patchwork of nuclear security arrangements to fail before building a more permanent, cohesive, and comprehensive international nuclear security governance system," said Luongo.

The full report, The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of National Commitments, is available online here.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

The Partnership for Global Security analyzes the convergence of the security, technological, and economic issues that are shaping the 21st century's global nuclear and biological challenges.