Washington: Nations gathered at a summit in Washington pledged on Tuesday to block “non-state actors” from obtaining nuclear material for malicious purposes, one of a raft of measures to bolster global nuclear security.
A draft communique also called for new controls on highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium -- key components of nuclear weapons -- while recognizing that security steps should not infringe upon the right of states to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
US President Barack Obama told delegations from 47 nations at the summit it was time for concerted global action to lock down loose nuclear materials and said if al Qaeda got an atomic weapon it would be a “catastrophe for the world.”
The communique, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, set out a number of general commitments in which countries promised to step up protection of nuclear materials under their control.
It said one key objective was “to prevent non-state actors from obtaining the information or technology required to use such material for malicious purposes.”
But, in a nod to some of the developing countries that are seeking to launch their own civilian nuclear programs, the summit also backed “strong nuclear security procedures that will not infringe upon the rights of states to develop and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
The summit encouraged nations to covert nuclear reactors from highly enriched uranium fuel to less risky low enriched fuel.
The communique reaffirmed the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations nuclear watchdog, and pledged to ensure that the agency has the resources and expertise necessary to carry out its mandate.
The summit called for greater international cooperation to effectively prevent and respond to incidents of illicit nuclear trafficking and to cooperate on nuclear detection, forensics and law enforcement to make this happen.
The countries also recognized the continuing role of the nuclear industry, including the private sector, in security work and pledged to cooperate with the industry to improve the overall “nuclear security culture.”