Keeping Tabs on Nuclear Security Commitments

Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport, Jenna Parker

Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Major multilateral summits typically end with a communiqué reflecting grand ideas and big-picture goals that all participants can agree on. Lately, however, a new trend has emerged: “gift-basket diplomacy.” This approach focuses less on members’ ideals and overarching aims than on how states can work together on issues of mutual concern. It is a form of multilateral, voluntary commitment-making that supplements broad statements with practical, near-term objectives.

Gift-basket diplomacy has already achieved results, and this approach gained momentum after the success of national commitment-making at the first summit. In April 2010, 29 of the 47 nations that attended the Washington Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) made unilateral voluntary commitments—and these were more than just promises inked on paper. Within a year, approximately 60 percent of those commitments had been fulfilled, with notable progress on another 30 percent: Chile eliminated all highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from its territory;  Kazakhstan secured its stockpiles of HEU and plutonium (large enough to make 775 nuclear weapons); and Ukraine repatriated more than half of its HEU to Russia, which put it on track to achieve a full clean-out of its HEU in time for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. More than 90 percent of the Washington summit’s national commitments had been completed by the 2012 summit.

Full text available at Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

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