The 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit ended here on Tuesday with the adoption of a short final communiqué and seven page work plan aimed at promoting the effective security of nuclear materials worldwide.
The communiqué includes general commitments while the more specific work plan constitutes a political commitment by participating countries to carry out applicable measures, on a voluntary basis, in all aspects of the storage, use, transportation and disposal of nuclear materials.
Unlike most nuclear documents springing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty system, the Washington communiqué makes no legal distinction between nuclear weapon states and the rest. Nor is there any reference to the NPT. Instead, it reaffirms the fundamental responsibility of States, consistent with their international obligations, to maintain effective security of all nuclear materials. These materials are defined as including “nuclear materials used in nuclear weapons, and nuclear facilities under their control.”
The document calls for wider support for existing international instruments on nuclear security such as the 1979 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment, the Convention on the Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism.
There is no reference in the documents to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887 on nuclear security and non-proliferation, passed last year at the urging or U.S. President Barack Obama. Indian officials say the reference in that to NPT adherence meant it could not be included in the communiqué.
But the communiqué and work plan have words of support for the G8-led Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. This initiative includes the annual G8 statements on non-proliferation, the last of which sought to prevent India from accessing enrichment and reprocessing technologies.
The work plan covers a wide range of issues from nuclear detection and forensics to exchange of information to detect and prevent illicit nuclear trafficking, and the promotion of nuclear security culture.
The document recognises that highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium — basic ingredients of a nuclear weapon — require special precautions and that participating countries agree to “promote measures to secure, account for, and consolidate these materials.” It also says that they agree to encourage the conversion of reactors from HEU to low-enriched uranium, a stated priority of the U.S. in the run-up to the Summit.