Finland sees nuke-free hope for N. Korea
By Philip Iglauer
Finland is “wishing and expecting” the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit to have some positive impact on North Korean denuclearization talks.
Finland’s top envoy in Korea said that while no one can say for sure what the impact will be on North Korea, “everyone is wishing and expecting it will have some positive impact.”
“That would be the optimistic approach, but the significance of holding the second nuclear security summit in Seoul is plain to see simply by looking at a map,” said Ambassador Pekka Wuoristo in an interview
“If it can contribute to re-opening the six party talks, that would be fine.”
Leaders of more than 50 nations around the world and international organizations will convene here March 26-27 for the second Nuclear Security Summit (NSS).
World leaders last met on nuclear security in 2010 in Washington, D.C., to secure the world’s nuclear and radiological materials from ever falling into the hands of terrorists, criminals and other non-state entities.
Wuoristo said that while he appreciates the official aim of the NSS process ― safeguarding the world’s nuclear materials from terrorist groups, he sees the NSS process as part of a larger discussion of inter-related nuclear issues.
“Of course this is closely related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) themselves, especially the proliferation of WMD, including chemical and biological weapons, and the reduction in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide,” he said.
“We find the restrictive arrangements between the nuclear weapons states as valuable,” he said. “It is encouraging, the discussion in this respect, that it is growing and widening over the last decade in terms of nuclear security and safety. One of the more important is this Nuclear Security Summit process.”
The goals of this summit and the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are not different, or even parallel, he said. The NSS process is a concentrated effort, working on the highest political level, and that is why it gives strength to those arrangements.
“The first Washington summit was very promising. Let’s hope the Seoul summit will also be promising, and hopefully the process will go on,” he said. “In this connection, there is not only nuclear security but also nuclear safety.
``From our point of view, nuclear security is a very complex group of questions, where we are not really involved, not having these devices. It is a priority of ours to unify these two considerations.”
Finish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to lead a high-level Finish delegation to the summit.
“The NSS process has lifted the level of the discussion, and it is a good starting point for bringing new ideas to the discussion on how to make the IAEA work better from two sides: The NSS process side and from the side of the existing international organizations on nuclear security,” he said during the interview at the Finish chancery located in a downtown Seoul skyscraper high above the din of rush-hour traffic below.
“It would be artificial to separate the two aspects to make some strict separation. We have been working in Finland in this regard for several decades. We have to work toward security and safety in this regard, too.”
Nuclear safety is a huge concern in Finland, as the Nordic nation is poised to expand its reliance on nuclear power for electricity.
Finland has four nuclear power plants and a fifth under construction. The Finish parliament is currently discussing prospects for the construction of two more plants.
Finland gets 35 percent of its energy from nuclear power. Most of its electricity comes from hydro-electric plants.
“Of course, there is a discussion in Finland about how to produce our electricity, but Finland has high standards in safety (at its nuclear power plants) and is sophisticated in its operation and management.”