States Must Fill Gaps in Nuclear Materials Security Effort, Report Finds
For Immediate Release: July 1, 2013
Media Contacts: Michelle Cann, Senior Budget and Policy Analyst, PGS (+1 609 668-2930); Kelsey Davenport, Nonproliferation Analyst, ACA (+1 317-460-8806); Sarah Williams, Nuclear Policy Analyst, PGS, (+1 202-332-1412).
(Vienna, Austria) A new report released today by the Arms Control Association (ACA) and Partnership for Global Security (PGS), finds that the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process has catalyzed action to secure nuclear weapons-usable materials, but the largely nationally-focused efforts to date are inadequate, and leading governments must begin building the framework for a cohesive international nuclear security governance system.
While the two previous reports from ACA and PGS assess the national commitments made at the 2010 summit, the 2013 edition of The Nuclear Security Summit: Progress Report provides a comprehensive overview of the progress states have made to improve nuclear security since the NSS process began in April 2010.
"The 2010 Washington summit and the 2012 Seoul summit focused primarily on accelerating incremental efforts at the national level, rather than building consensus for bold new actions," said Michelle Cann, senior budget and policy analyst at PGS and co-author the report.
"Ahead of the 2014 summit in The Netherlands, states must begin outlining a global strategy to address the structural deficiencies of the current nuclear security regime," she added.
"Although all 53 participating countries have taken steps since the 2012 summit to strengthen nuclear security, the current system lacks universal reporting requirements and standards, making it difficult to assess the overall progress of the summit process," said Kelsey Davenport, nonproliferation analyst for ACA and co-author of the report.
"At the 2014 summit, participating countries should agree on a standard reporting framework. This will make it easier to determine what progress has been achieved and where gaps remain," Davenport suggests.
"President Obama's announcement that the United States will host a fourth Nuclear Security Summit in 2016 provides an opportunity for states to agree upon a global framework for nuclear security with greater transparency and higher common standards," she said.
The 68-page report describes actions each of the 53 participating countries have pursued since the Nuclear Security summit process began. Highlights since 2012 include:
- Australia, Hungary, Japan, and Vietnam announced pledges to return stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) before the 2014 summit.
- In April 2013, the Czech Republic became the 10th country to eliminate its entire HEU stockpile since the four year effort to secure vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide was articulated in April 2009.
- 44 countries hosted nuclear security workshops, conferences, exercises, and centers. Several of these states are building long-term nuclear security training infrastructure by establishing centers of excellence, often in cooperation with the European Union, IAEA, or the United States.
- 22 countries took steps to prevent the smuggling of illicit radioactive materials by enhancing transport security, expanding border controls, and developing new detection and monitoring technologies.
The report also tracks commitments made by states to minimize their use of HEU by 2013 and to approve the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) by 2014.
- 18 of 22 NSS participants that possess at least a kilogram of HEU announced plans in Seoul or have taken actions since to minimize HEU usage, repatriate fuel, and convert reactors.
- Since the summit process began in 2010, 18 NSS participants have ratified the 2005 amendment to the CPPNM, while 17 NSS participants still need to act. When in force, the amendment will extend protection requirements for nuclear materials to the domestic use, storage, and transport of nuclear materials and sets new legal consequences for misuse and sabotage.
"Four years ago, states pledged to improve the security of the most vulnerable nuclear materials around the world. Our report shows that much has been accomplished but it is far too early for states to declare the four-year effort 'complete.' Rather, they must work together to close the gaps in the global nuclear material security system," said Sarah Williams, nuclear policy analyst a PGS and co-author of the report.
"For example, while the 2012 Seoul summit spurred states to take significant steps to reduce their stockpiles of HEU, more must be done in 2014 to encourage minimization of plutonium stockpiles," Williams said.
"In addition, the United States is one of the 17 participating countries that have not ratified the 2005 amendment to the CPPNM. Action by Washington will be critical to meet the goal of this treaty entering into force in 2014," Williams added.
"The Nuclear Security Summit process brought high-level attention to the threat posed by nuclear terrorism. However, the current patchwork of voluntary initiatives and recommendations are not sufficient to sustain progress and guard against nuclear terrorism in the years ahead. We urge all states to work toward building a stronger and more effective international nuclear security governance system," Cann said.
The full report, The Nuclear Security Summit: Progress Report, is available online here.
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 mounts a global effort to strengthen global nuclear security governance and promotes practical policies to ensure all nuclear material and facilities are secure.