Over the past decade, there has been significant development in ensuring that stockpiles of the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons around the world are secured from theft and transfer to unauthorized actors. Yet, there remains a precarious gap between the pace of progress and the scope and urgency of the threat. This threat, if ignored, could lead to unprecedented cataclysm. A recent event on July 3, 2018 revealed security vulnerability when a Superman-molded automaton collided with a French nuclear plant. It was, however, Greenpeace and not a terrorist blitz. This happening spotlights the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review’s evaluation that nuclear terrorism is ‘presently the quickest and most extraordinary risk’ to our world.It also underscores the significance of the conscientious six-year struggle from 2010 to 2016 to decrease the danger constituted by nuclear psychological warfare, a long way from the mainstream nuclear issues of Iran, North Korea, and arms-control race between United States of America (USA) and Russia.
There is some apprehension that nuclear materials in many countries remain critically vulnerable to theft and unauthorized use. With the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal in danger and unverifiable prospects for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the issue of nuclear security may offer a more idealistic future for multilateral joint effort and developments. What is needed, as the July 3 episode states that, the worldwide nuclear security engineering must keep on evolving to address the risk postured by nuclear terrorism.
In past, the Nuclear Security Summits (NSSs)which were initiated by the then American President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009 and April 2016’s summit marked the end of this process, fundamentally fortifying the worldwide nuclear security engineering. The process provided a global platform to 50 world leaders at four summits-Washington, D.C. (2010); Seoul (2012); The Hague (2014); and Washington, D.C. (2016)-in order to unite and upgrade endeavours to decrease the danger of nuclear and radiological psychological warfare. It was done through strengthening national laws, supporting worldwide collaboration, and limiting weapons-usable materials all together to secure nuclear materials.
The NSS shepherds the exploitation of normal and deliberate nuclear security duty made by states, promoting the production of a viable system for constantly enhancing the nuclear security administration. These efforts have been an admirable investment in nuclear security. As indicated in one of the reports on summit processes, “The Nuclear Security Summits: An Overview of State Actions to Curb Nuclear Terrorism 2010-2016,”the states came forward with a plan of935 responsibilities to reinforce and enhance nuclear security. These deliberate national responsibilities brought about substantial and inventive nuclear security enhancements. Following the deliberations, three geographic locales like South America, Southeast Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe have completely disposed of very advanced uranium from their dirt, and just 22 nations have weapons-usable nuclear material, down from more than 50. Notwithstanding, the basic work to limit and secure nuclear materials, almost three dozen states met national duties to pass new laws or refreshed existing controls to fortify nuclear security.
Despite the fact that the likelihood of a terrorist organization manufacturing even a dirty nuclear gadget or disrupting a nuclear power plant is low, the worldwide network cannot bear to be smug and count too much upon on the achievements of the summit process. However, there is a good reason for hope. In the current progressively politicized world, though nuclear terrorism remains an issue, the world’s political leaders can cooperate to meet the developing risk. The politicians and policy makers worldwide can proceed with their endeavours to moderate the danger of nuclear fear based oppression even without the summits.
To meet the consistently developing risk, leaders must yield from one of the underexplored achievements of the summits: national duties and joint explanations. Pushing ahead, national duties and joint articulations can in any case be utilized as a viable system to check the dangers of nuclear terrorism.
Precisely, even without the political force created from head-of-state level summits, national and multinational responsibility could be reproduced as a major aspect of the ecclesiastical gatherings on nuclear security held by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at regular intervals. Like the national reports issued at the summits, states could likewise give an account of the solid moves made to progress nuclear security and issue new promises.
In face of the dangers of nuclear terrorism, strengthening or eliminating the weakest links in nuclear security is a hard job. Vigorous nuclear security efforts ought to rise above political disagreements. It is imperative to find the political will to get this hard job done, and the innovative approaches that will make it possible to overcome the impediments to improve security for nuclear materials.
The writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)
Published in Daily Times, August 11th 2018.