Communique for N-security summit finalised

The text of the communique and other documents to be issued at the end of the April 12-13 summit convened by US President Barack Obama were finalised at the meeting of the Sherpas yesterday, during which India was represented by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

The meeting was chaired by US Sherpa Gary Samore, Senior Advisor to the President and Senior Director for non-proliferation.

"There will be a high-level communique from the leaders which will recognise that nuclear terrorism is a serious threat (and) which will endorse President Obama's effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials over a four-year period," Samore said.

It will pledge in a general way steps that countries can take on both at national and international levels in order to strengthen nuclear security and prevent terrorists or criminal groups from getting access to materials for nuclear weapons, he said.

"Underlining the communique there's a more detailed work plan which all the countries have agreed to, and that lays out in more specific detail the concrete commitments that countries will take on a national and an international level to strengthen security," he told reporters in a teleconference briefing on the next week's summit.

Samore said there will be a number of national actions that countries will announce in the context of the summit.

"It will be things like Chile, which has removed all of the low-enriched uranium -- or all of the highly-enriched uranium from their country. We expect similar kinds of measures will be announced," he said.

Another example is the US-Russia Plutonium Disposition Agreement, where both sides have agreed to dispose of 34 metric tonnes each of weapons-grade plutonium that has been removed from military programmes by burning it in reactors, he said.

"This is an agreement which is very significant in the sense that over a period of a decade or so it will remove very large quantities of weapons-useable materials, and also it's an agreement that's been long stalled," Samore said.

Noting that there is still a great deal of things need to be done for implementing various commitments on the issue, Samore said the participating countries are planning that the summit will be the first to set in motion a series of follow- up actions, including meetings of the Sherpas every six months or so in order to judge progress in implementing the work plan and to take whatever additional measures are necessary.

"We expect that in the future there will be at least one more summit meeting and we hope perhaps others that, at the leadership level, will be used to announce additional steps and serve to focus attention on action that needs to be taken in order to fulfil the President's four-year lockdown plan," he said.

Samore, who chaired the Sherpas' meeting, said they had three such meetings and a number of meetings of the sous-Sherpas who got into the real details.

"In addition to preparing the documents that will be issued at the summit, we also obviously have taken a lot of time to prepare the agenda and the schedule and try as much as we can to organise the discussion so that it will be a benefit to all of the leaders," he noted.

"We are really focussing the agenda of the summit on the specific issue of nuclear security and the risk that non-state actors will get access to nuclear materials for nuclear weapons. We don't want to use this summit as a replacement for the NPT review conference or many of the other forums where the broader issues of non-proliferation and peaceful usage and arms control are discussed," he said.

"I think that actually has been very helpful because we want to focus attention on the nuclear security issue, the threat of nuclear terrorism, and we've avoided some of the more contentious issues where there is actually a lot of disagreement and controversy within the international community," he said.

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