Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 06/2012

Inching Forward at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit

Sharon Squassoni

April 2012

East-West Center


A few days before Seoul hosted the official Nuclear Security Summit in late March, experts met to discuss progress on nuclear security. The keynote speaker, Dr. Graham Allison from Harvard University, suggested a strategy of three “No’s” to reduce future nuclear risks: no loose nuclear weapons or materials; no new national enrichment or reprocessing facilities; and no new nuclear weapon states. This strategy links traditional “nuclear security”—physical protection of nuclear material—with nuclear nonproliferation and fuel cycle management. Yet at the summit a few days later, the 52 heads of state, along with leaders of four international organizations on nuclear terrorism, focused on doing exactly the opposite: separating out nuclear security from nonproliferation, and putting as much distance between the growth of nuclear power and nuclear risks as possible. The result: underwhelming progress and no surprises.