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Hague Summit produces multi-national commitments to reduce nuclear threat

President Barack Obama helped forge multi-national agreements at the Nuclear Security Summit to reduce nuclear threats.
President Barack Obama helped forge multi-national agreements at the Nuclear Security Summit to reduce nuclear threats.© 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Overshadowed by concern raised by Russia's incursion into Crimea and what that might bode for its increased militancy and quest for a new Soviet empire, are these important agreements forged by Obama with Japan toward preventing nuclear terrorism and minimizing the use of sensitive nuclear materials at research facilities, during his trip to The Hague.

In addition, at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, 12 nations agreed upon a joint statement marking the elimination of highly enriched uranium from within their borders: Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Also, the US and Ukraine reaffirmed their strategic partnership and emphasized the important role of nuclear nonproliferation in that relationship.

"The United States government condemns Russia’s failure to abide by its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum with its unilateral military actions in Ukraine. Russia’s actions undermine the foundation of the global security architecture and endanger European peace and security. Ukraine and the United States emphasize that they will not recognize Russia's illegal attempt to annex Crimea. Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine. The United States will continue to help Ukraine affirm its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As the people of Ukraine work to restore unity, peace, and security to their country, the United States will stand by their side."

Statement on US-Japan Agreement

Japan and the United States reaffirm our determination to strengthen nuclear security and to further cooperate, through activities such as our bilateral Nuclear Security Working Group and the GTRI, toward our mutual goal of preventing nuclear terrorism.

Today in The Hague, the Netherlands, on the occasion of the third Nuclear Security Summit, Prime Minister Abe and President Obama pledged to remove and dispose all highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium from the Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) in Japan. This effort involves the elimination of hundreds of kilograms of nuclear material, furthering our mutual goal of minimizing stocks of HEU and separated plutonium worldwide, which will help prevent unauthorized actors, criminals, or terrorists from acquiring such materials. This material, once securely transported to the United States, will be sent to a secure facility and fully converted into less sensitive forms. The plutonium will be prepared for final disposition. The HEU will be downblended to low enriched uranium (LEU) and utilized for civilian purposes.

By committing to remove and dispose all HEU and separated plutonium from the FCA, Japan and the United States reaffirm our belief that the most cutting edge sciences do not necessarily require the use of the most proliferation sensitive materials. In this context, our two countries plan to work together to design new enhancements to the FCA, expanding the facility’s scope to include important research on the transmutation and disposition of nuclear waste. Additionally, to ensure that Japan can safely and securely further its important work on nuclear research and medical isotope production, the United States will continue to accept research reactor spent fuel from several Japanese facilities that utilize LEU.

This pledge complements the significant role that both Japan and the United States are playing in finding new ways to continue improving global nuclear security. Many of the remaining gains that the international community can make in this area will require difficult decisions, and Japan has demonstrated its leadership by resolving to remove all special nuclear material from the FCA, consistent with all Summit Communiqués’ spirit to minimize stocks of nuclear material. Our two countries encourage others to consider what they can do to further HEU and plutonium minimization.

Bilateral Nuclear Security Working Group

Here are the facts of the United States-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group:

The United States and Japan established a bilateral Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG) in 2011 in response to a shared desire to demonstrate leadership in strengthening nuclear security worldwide and in support of the Nuclear Security Summit process. This group developed a Roadmap containing tangible actions in support of shared objectives and goals. When taken together, these goals constitute a layered approach to nuclear security including: reducing quantities of nuclear material and/or its attractiveness, reducing the vulnerability of material to theft or diversion, and strengthening response and forensics capabilities. Achievements outlined in the nine goals of the NSWG Roadmap below have benefited both countries’ nuclear security expertise, strengthened our nuclear security posture, and have fundamentally reduced the threat that terrorists would acquire nuclear material.

The goals include:

Goal 1: Cooperation within the Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Nuclear Security (ISCN)

Goal 2: Research and Development (R&D) of Nuclear Forensics, Measurement and Detection Technologies, and Sharing of Investigatory Best Practices

Goal 3: Cooperation on Safeguards Implementation

Goal 4: Sharing Best Practices for Nuclear Security in New Facility Design

Goal 5: Cooperation on Transport Security to Reduce the Chances of Theft or Sabotage

Goal 6: Convert Reactors to Reduce the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and Complete Down-Blending Operations

Goal 7: Implement INFCIRC / 225 / Rev.5

Goal 8: Integrating Response Forces into Dealing with Theft and Sabotage at Facilities

Goal 9: Joint Study on Management of HEU and Plutonium: Reduction of Material Attractiveness