The upcoming Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul, South Korea, will raise the international profile of the threat of nuclear terrorism and focus attention on the need to better secure weapons-usable nuclear materials in all corners of the globe. It follows the first NSS held in March 2010 in Washington,
DC. Another summit will be held in the Netherlands in 2014. This sequencing of biennial, high-level international political summits has underscored the global importance of addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism. As a result, the NSS has the potential to become the preeminent international forum where the state of global nuclear material security is evaluated and where new commitments are made to improve the world’s defenses against nuclear terrorism. But, to fully realize its potential, the NSS process will need to evolve and participating countries must be willing to accept changes that will strengthen the nuclear material security regime.
It is important to recognize that regularized, high-level, international summits that address important transnational issues are fairly rare, difficult to establish, and raise expectations for effective action. The closest corollary is the G-8 economic summit process, and the recent addition of the G-20 economic summits. But even the G-7 meetings (the forerunner of the G-8) were not regularly established until 1979. And their creation was an outgrowth of the ad hoc sessions initiated by the industrialized countries following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo.
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