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(3rd LD) Park vows to join efforts for nuclear security regimes

All Headlines 09:17 April 02, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)
By Kim Kwang-tae

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye pledged Friday to join international efforts to develop nuclear security regimes as she 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 at the summit on nuclear security in Washington.

Her comments came amid growing concerns over possible nuclear and radiological 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 fourth and 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.

"More work remains to be done to prevent non-state actors from obtaining nuclear and other radioactive materials, which could be used for malicious purposes," the leaders said in a communique at the end of the summit.

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.

Park also said South Korea will help ensure the IAEA can play a central role in nuclear security, citing Seoul's hosting of a ministerial conference of the U.N. nuclear agency on nuclear security in December.

South Korea plans to "assist IAEA activities with a focus on coming up with measures to cope with the threat of cyber attacks," Park said.

South Korea has suffered a recent series of cyberattacks on its nuclear power operator, which runs 22 nuclear reactors in the country, in recent years. South Korea suspects that North Korea could be to blame for the attacks.

North Korea has a track record of waging cyber attacks on South Korea and the United States in recent years, though it has flatly denied any involvement.

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 involved in the pact hold a meeting every five years to establish an international regime meant to review the implementation of obligations for nuclear security.

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

Separately, Park had planned to hold talks with her Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, to discuss ways to boost ties and expand economic cooperation.

But the bilateral summit was called off due to a delay of the nuclear summit. Macri was on a tight schedule as he had to leave for Buenos Aires on a commercial flight, not a presidential plane.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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