Nuclear Security Summit Fosters an Illusion of Achievement, Says NRDC

A Wide Gap Remains Between the Nuclear Threat and the Work Plan to Address It

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2010) -- The concrete results of this week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington are not commensurate with the risk of nuclear terrorism, according to nuclear experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Following is a statement from Dr. Thomas B. Cochran, a nuclear physicist and nuclear security expert at NRDC:

"President Obama is to be commended for convening the Nuclear Security Summit, highlighting the grave security threat posed by plutonium and highly enriched uranium and securing pledges from a number of countries to reduce, eliminate or better secure these dangerous materials.

"Unfortunately, Obama and his fellow summit participants missed the opportunity to forge a consensus on the elimination of these materials in civil commerce. Instead, the leaders appeared to put the convenience and economics of operating research reactors over the urgent need to minimize the risk of a catastrophic nuclear terrorist strike.

"Rather than calling for a global ban on civil use of highly enriched uranium, the summit communiqué merely recognized  that highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium require ‘special precautions,’ -- a statement that endorses continued use of these dangerous materials.

"And, instead of identifying specific milestones and serious financial commitments, the leaders fell back on nonbinding diplomatic boilerplate that merely highlights existing international conventions, agreements and United Nations resolutions on the subject of nuclear security.

"What’s needed now is a global ban on the production, use and possession of highly enriched uranium for civil use. And the United States and Russia should also phase out their reliance on highly enriched uranium to fuel naval propulsion reactors.

"There is no legitimate civil use of, or naval requirement for, highly enriched uranium that outweighs the nuclear explosive risks associated with its continued use outside of secured weapon stockpiles. And we will never eliminate nuclear weapons so long as highly enriched uranium is used for civil purposes and to fuel naval reactors."