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Nations to Promise Elimination of Fissile Materials

No fewer than 10 state participants in this month's Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea are expected to promise the removal of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from their territories, an informed insider in Seoul told Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday (see GSN, March 6).

The source said governments would use the March 26-27 gathering as a "stepping stone" toward concrete moves on initiatives that gained support at the first atomic security meeting, which took place two years ago in Washington. The countries would also seek to establish a foundation for carrying out related objectives over medium and longer durations, according to the insider.

Delegates for the 53 participating countries have determined that a document to be issued at the close of the meeting "will pledge to minimize the civilian use of highly enriched uranium and plutonium," the government source said. In addition, the document would describe "practical visions and concrete actions" for possible means of bolstering international collaboration and improving steps to prevent extremists from successfully targeting atomic sites and substances, the insider stated.

"Also, at least 10 more nations will separately pledge to eliminate their stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium," the source said. "In the wake of the Seoul summit, achievements are expected to get rid of nuclear materials to make thousands of nuclear weapons."

The last 24 months have seen the removal of roughly 880 pounds of weapon-usable uranium from in excess of 10 countries such as Australia and Argentina. The quantity is sufficient to power 16 nuclear bombs; as little as 55 pounds of uranium or 18 pounds of plutonium could fuel a crude atomic explosive, specialists said.

In addition, Russia has rid itself of 48 tons of highly enriched uranium and the United States has removed 7 tons of the material, said the planning group for this month's meeting.

The Netherlands has indicated it would serve as the location for the next nuclear security summit two years from now. It is probable that Seoul will formally assign the role to the European nation (Yonhap News Agency/Korea Times, March 13).

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GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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