More than 50 world leaders including Prime Minister John Key, have attended the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.
This summit, Key pledged a further $150,000 to the US nuclear security programmes in Iraq, Jordan, and Cambodia; and $148,000 to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund.
Despite New Zealand’s nuclear-free status, Key said it’s an important issue for the country. He cited the summit as “an opportunity to address nuclear terrorism threats at the global level,” reaffirming New Zealand’s commitment “to the goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide.”
Key’s sentiments were echoed by Labour party foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer, who said “proliferation around the world, the unstable nature of the world, means we have to keep a strong eye on it.”
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This year New Zealand has ratified two key nuclear security conventions: the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The government has also passed the Radiation Safety Act 2016 which further regulates the use and management of radioactive or nuclear material.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to boycott the summit, a decision that stemmed from Russian criticism of the US refusal to accept suggestions from other countries.
Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Kennedy Graham agreed with Russia’s objections about the US central role during the Summit. Graham argued that the work should continue, but within the International Atomic Energy Agency instead, and cited the Brussels and Paris terrorist attacks as an indication that the ability of governments to prevent them is limited.
According to Ploughshares Fund—a global security foundation trying to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world—Russia is believed to posses more nuclear weapons than any other nation.
The summit was first established in 2009 by US President Barack Obama, with the aim to advance international cooperation to address and combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.