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SEOUL: Cooperation against nuclear terrorism – Italy’s priority: protection for peoples and environment

Strong national and international cooperation against nuclear terrorism, one of the most challenging threats to international security. That is the commitment of the 53 Heads of States and Government, as set out in the communiqué approved at the close of the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. Italy, with Prime Minister Mario Monti’s intervention, stressed the need to foster synergies between the aspects of nuclear security linked with terrorist acts and those relating to incidents in nuclear power plants. The priority aim is to protect peoples and the environment.

Defeating this threat of nuclear terrorism, reads the communiqué, “requires strong national measures and international cooperation given its potential global political, economic, social, and psychological consequences. We reaffirm our shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy”. The communiqué also reaffirms: “that measures to strengthen nuclear security will not hamper the rights of States to develop and utilise nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.

Monti had a “warm” exchange with US President Barack Obama shortly before the plenary session, and discussions with the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, the Spanish Premier, Mariano Rajoy, il Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, and the Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak. He underscored the importance of structuring national regulatory, monitoring and control systems in the nuclear sphere in such a way as to foster synergies between the different aspects of safety and security. The measures to be implemented in both cases should be coordinated and compatible.

In Monti’s view, the problems to be tackled are many. They include raising security standards to prevent incidents in the case of natural events or criminal actions; and the coordinated and efficient organisation of intervention plans at the national, regional and international levels to tackle emergencies resulting from nuclear incidents.

Monti recalled that the idea is gaining ground of strengthening international measures to introduce regular visits by independent experts to verify national programmes met satisfactory standards and recommend any necessary improvements. These visits would no longer be optional, as at present, but obligatory. “Our goal must be to protect peoples and the environment from the harmful effect of radiation, whether it is released by natural events, including extreme ones, or acts of a malicious or criminal nature”.