Trying to stay in Seoul at the time of such a big event as the Nuclear Security Summit meant that some of my preferred hotels were booked solid or had revoked any discounts which might otherwise have been available. But it was interesting seeing the preparations that Seoul had been making, from the security arrangements to the planting of spring flowers on roadside verges near Chongwadae.
What was the summit all about? Here’s some briefing materials, kindly provided by the press office at the ROK embassy in London:
2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
The “2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit”, which will be held in Seoul in March 2012, will be the largest summit in the security field that discusses international cooperative measures to protect nuclear materials and facilities from terrorist groups, with participation from more than 53 heads of state and international organizations. The main issues to be discussed at the Summit will be as follows.
- Cooperative measures to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism
- Protection of nuclear materials and related facilities
- Prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials
The possibility of nuclear terrorism became a real threat after 9/11, which increased the importance of strengthening nuclear security to prevent nuclear materials from being misused by terrorist groups. There is a need to recognize the importance of nuclear security at the summit level and seek cooperation, as the threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be addressed by a single nation.
President Obama stated in his 2009 Prague speech that nuclear terrorism is a serious threat to international security, and expressed his will to lead global efforts to protect nuclear materials as part of his plan to realize his vision of a “world free of nuclear weapons.”
The first Nuclear Security Summit, the largest international meeting relating to the nuclear issue, was held in Washington in April 2010. The summit was attended by leaders from 47 states and 3 international organizations (UN, EU, IAEA), including the P5 nations (nuclear weapons states) and states not party to the NPT, such as India, Pakistan, and Israel. The leaders discussed plans to strengthen nuclear security by preventing the misuse of nuclear materials by non-state actors.
The Republic of Korea, as host of the second Nuclear Security Summit to be held in March 2012, will play a leading role in coordinating participating countries’ views on key nuclear security issues and lead discussions on the drafting of the ‘Seoul Communique,‘ which will be the final document of the Seoul Summit.
The selection of Korea as host of the 2012 Summit reflects the international community’s recognition of its world-class nuclear technology, its compliance with NPT obligations and its exemplary use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The hosting of the Nuclear Security Summit on the Korean peninsula will be highly significant given its implications within the context of denuclearization.
The Significance of the Hosting of the Summit in Seoul
Korea has established its status as an advanced country by securing the hosting of a whole range of international meetings in the economic, cultural, and sports ﬁelds including the hosting of the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit. The holding of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit means that Korea has gained even greater standing in the international community in the security field as well. In addition, it is meaningful that Korea will play a leading role in establishing global governance in the security and political fields just as it played a significant role in the economic field through the hosting of the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit.
Heads of 53 states which participated in the 1st Washington Nuclear Security Summit. (Republic of Korea, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam).
Heads of international organizations which participated in the Washington Summit (the UN, IAEA, and EU).
INTERPOL was added to the group of participants as agreed upon between the participating countries and international organizations.