Policy Alert: Rising Powers React to Nuclear Security Summit
Last week, world leaders from over 50 countries attended the third Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, Netherlands to discuss nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism while holding side meetings over the Ukraine crisis and other issues. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Russia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil on the outcomes of these diplomatic meetings.
While Russia and the United States agreed to strengthen international cooperation to address nuclear terrorist threats, the Ukraine crisis still loomed large at the summit.
- Moscow “is concerned about the unjustified accumulation of weapons-grade fissile materials in some countries that possess no nuclear weapons” and hopes the United States will play a “more active role” in solving this issue, said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
- Despite such concerns, Russia, along with China and sixteen other countries, rejected a separate initiative of the U.S., the Netherlands, and South Korea at the summit to incorporate the International Atomic Energy Agency’s security guidelines into national rules.
- In response to the claims of a Ukrainian delegate at the summit that Russia is allegedly threatening the security of nuclear sites in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the accusations “a pure and simple attempt to shift the blame.”
- The Ministry further criticized Ukraine for pushing forward a domestic legislative initiative of its secession from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and putting the treaty in “serious danger.”
Chinese officials and commentators unanimously called for further international cooperation on nuclear security.
- President Xi Jinping called for “a fair, cooperative, and win-win international nuclear security system” in which countries not only honor their international obligations but also respect each other’s “right to adopt nuclear security policies and measures best suited to their specific conditions.”
- Foreign Minister Wang Yi, explaining that nuclear security is linked with the “Chinese dream” that calls for “universal security,” emphasized that China is committed to addressing the issue through multi-layered international cooperation.
- China and the U.S. have “common interests” in strengthening nuclear security, argued Liu Rui, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “[I]t’s time for the two great powers to do their utmost to understand each other, dissolve mutual mistrust, and cooperate on world peace.”
- Xinhua editor Zhu Dongyang argued that developed countries with mature experience in nuclear security “need to be more generous and forthcoming in sharing their expertise.”
The Indian government showed support for the international nuclear security initiative.
- Nuclear terrorism and clandestine proliferation poses “a serious threat to international security,” warned External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. “We should together deny terrorists what they seek and eliminate the risks of sensitive materials and technologies falling into their hands.”
- Reshmi Kazi, associate fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, argued that the “renaissance of civil nuclear energy” in Asia has increased the threat of nuclear terrorism, and urged India to cooperate with China and Pakistan to improve nuclear security in the region.
In The Hague, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined the rest of BRICS leaders in opposing a ban on Russia’s attendance at the G20 meeting in Australia later this year.
- The Times of India explained that the move reflected India’s stance that “[a]ll attempts to isolate Russia over Ukraine will be counterproductive.”
- The Hindu questioned the G7’s decision at The Hague to suspend Russia’s G8 membership, arguing that the move was “less principled than it might look, and Western legislatures must scrutinize their respective executives closely over their handling of the Ukraine crisis.”
At the summit, Japan announced a bilateral agreement to hand over several hundred kilograms of its highly enriched uranium and plutonium to the United States.
- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to enhance domestic and international nuclear measures, saying “Japan has a responsibility to lead efforts to strengthen nuclear security” in light of the nuclear incident in Fukushima.
- The international community must cooperate to “prevent the nightmare of nuclear terrorismfrom becoming a real-world tragedy,” argued the Mainichi Shimbun.
- The Yomiuri Shimbun expressed concerns with the little progress made thus far in the reduction of nuclear arms, adding that “China must stop its military buildup with nuclear arms…and reduce its nuclear arms together with other nuclear powers.”
Japanese media also focused on the U.S.-Korea-Japan trilateral talks at the summit, a meeting arranged by Washington to bring together Seoul and Tokyo despite their history disputes.
- The Mainichi Shimbun called the meeting “a step in the right direction,” urging the three countries to further cooperate to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and to make sure that “China’s growing power and push into the Pacific does not lead to attempts to redraw the map in East Asia in the way that Russia has done in Ukraine.”
- The talks were a “message” for China’s military adventurism, said the Yomiuri Shimbun. “Japan, South Korea and the United States hold a common view that any attempt to change the status quo by force will not be tolerated.”
Korean newspapers discussed the implications of the Nuclear Security Summit and the U.S.-Korea-Japan three-way meeting for Seoul-Tokyo relations and security cooperation in the region.
- During the trilateral talks in The Hague, President Park Geun-hye warned that North Korean nuclear materials “could end up in the hands of terrorists” and pledged to strengthen cooperation with the United States and Japan to deal with the issue.
- The Korean Herald argued that whether Korea-Japan relations will improve “depends entirely on Japan’s future actions,” expressing its hope that “Abe and the Japanese leaders show ‘sincerity’ by refraining from provocative activities.”
- The Chosun Ilbo agreed. “The ball is now [in] Japan’s court” to solve history disputes, including comfort women.
- South Korea must separate nuclear and security issues from other grievances in the bilateral relations to deal with North Korea, argued the JoongAng Ilbo. The newspaper, however, warned that Seoul must carefully manage U.S.-Korea-Japan security cooperation because of Beijing’s efforts “to counter Japan as a part of a battle for hegemony between the United States and China.”
Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer declared that The Nuclear Security Summit is building ‘awareness’ for both participating and non-participating countries in achieving policy goals.
- Vice President Michel Temer attended the summit and highlighted the importance of people understanding the “necessity of increased security for nuclear material,” Exame reported. The Vice President added that the IAEA has the “capacity and competency to do this.”
- Michel Temer also emphasized the importance of achieving policy goals, not only for the 52 countries participating in the summit, but especially for “non-participating countries.”