Scot Wightman British Ambassador to Seoul
This is the fifth of a series of interviews with ambassadors from countries participating in the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26 and 27. — ED.
By Philip Iglauer
Great Britain is taking aim atinformation security, in addition to safeguarding the world’s nuclear material, as a top priority at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit this month.
“We need to secure information that terrorists could use to obtain nuclear material, to turn it into a radiological dispersal or improvised nuclear device, and to mount an effective attack,” said British Ambassador to Korea Scot Wightman, in an email interview with The Korea Times.
“We’re asking other participating states to join us in signing a voluntary joint statement, in addition to the general communique, which covers a range of subjects, promoting the importance of information security and to sign up to a menu of specific commitments that will improve national nuclear information security,” he said.
Leaders of more than 50 international organizations and nations around the world will convene here for the event on March 26 and 27.
Nations pledged to specific commitments and methods of working with international organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency to make sure such materials don’t fall into the hands of terrorists or international criminals.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year in neighboring Japan, the scope of this month’s summit was broadened to include the safety of nuclear power stations.
The Doomsday Clock moved from six minutes to midnight to five in January this year, after scientists agreed that the world is now closer to world cataclysm principally because of the narrowly averted nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan which was caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
Wightman said the global community must tackle three issues in particular to make sure nuclear material never falls into the hands of terrorists.
First, the “risk that the global expansion in civil nuclear power prog r a m s increases the availability of fissile material to terrorists.” Second, “the rise of the Internet is adding to the availability of nuclear information and increases its potential,” and third, “nuclear smuggling networks.” Wightman said Korea is carrying forward an issue of great importance to the international community and that the summit illustrates Korea’s role on the global stage.
“The United Kingdom strongly supports this active Korean role. We want to see it continue. The summit will highlight the contrast between Korea’s responsible stance toward nuclear issues and North Korean proliferation,” said Wightman.
He said the six-party talks offer the best prospect for persuading North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
“We welcome talks between North and South Korea and between the United States and North Korea, and hope that these may lead to the resumption of the six-party talks,” he said.
Britain is one of the five nuclear weapons states recognized under the Nonproliferation Treaty and it has relied on nuclear power as part of its energy mix for five decades.
“The U.K. Government believes that nuclear energy should play an important role in the U.K.’s future energy mix alongside renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.” Wightman said that Britain believes nuclear power is “lowcarbon, affordable and dependable.” “The aim is to have the first new replacement nuclear power stations generating electricity from 2018,” he said. He added that Britain is committed to ensuring that the benefits of peaceful nuclear power are accessible and shared responsibly with the world “in line with our Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments.”