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(LEAD) Park calls for int'l bodies to strengthen role for nuclear security

All News 06:34 April 02, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with comments by Park; CHANGES headline; ADDS byline)
By Kim Kwang-tae

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday called on the United Nations and other international organizations to strengthen their role in nuclear security.

"The U.N. can contribute to the development of a regime for nuclear security," Park said during a working lunch of the summit on nuclear security in Washington.

Her comments came amid growing concerns over possible nuclear attacks by terrorist groups.

U.S. President Barack Obama said al Qaida has long sought nuclear materials and the Islamic State militant group has used chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Syria and Iraq.

"There is no doubt that if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or nuclear material they most certainly would use it to kill as many innocent people as possible," Obama said at opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit.

A small amount of plutonium -- about the size of an apple -- could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people, Obama said.

This week's summit is the final one since 2000, when Obama hosted the inaugural session as part of efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The summit has been held every two years to discuss how to tackle the threats of nuclear terrorism and how to strengthen an international regime for nuclear security.

Obama called for better security at nuclear facilities around the world to ensure nuclear material doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

There are roughly 2,000 tons of nuclear material at hundreds of military and civilian facilities around the world, though not all of them are properly secured.

Park said the International Atomic Energy Agency, Interpol, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and the Global Partnership should help strengthen nuclear security.

GICNT, co-chaired by the United States and Russia, is composed of 86 countries and is designed to strengthen the overall global architecture to prevent nuclear terrorism.

The Global Partnership is a multilateral initiative to reduce the risk of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.

More than 100 countries have ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, a key treaty that could give them tools to work together in the event of theft of nuclear material or an attack on a nuclear facility.

Park proposed that the parties to the pact hold a meeting every five years to establish an international regime meant to review implementation of obligations for nuclear security.

Obama said he expects the treaty to enter into force in the coming weeks.

Separately, Park is scheduled to hold talks with her Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, in the first summit between the leaders of the two countries in 12 years.

The two leaders are expected to discuss ways to gain momentum for the development of their ties and expand economic cooperation, according to the South Korean presidential office.


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