Building on the Nuclear Security Summit

News | November 09, 2010

On 29 October 2010, the EastWest Institute held an off-the-record roundtable discussion on Building on the Nuclear Security Summit with Ms. Laura Holgate, Senior Director for WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction at the U.S. National Security Council. 

The discussion brought together policymakers, leading experts, and diplomats to develop proposals on the best mechanisms to implement and report on progress of the Nuclear Security Summit, which was convened in April 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Speaking from the Obama administration’s perspective, Ms. Holgate outlined some fundamental principles of the Nuclear Security Summit.  She argued that nuclear terrorism, and the spread of nuclear material, is a global threat with global repercussions. Heads of state have a collective responsibility to maintain nuclear security and mitigate the risks and repercussions of nuclear terrorism.  In addition, Ms. Holgate noted that the focus of the April 2010 summit was narrowly confined to nuclear security because international institutions and frameworks exist that effectively address issues of nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Finally, Ms. Holgate stressed that the composition of the summit involved a wide representation of states from: nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states; states with existing nuclear energy programs, those wishing to pursue nuclear energy, and states with no immediate plans to develop such programs; and signatories and non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The discussion then focused on how to deepen the political commitment to and expand participation in the summit communiqué and work plan. Specific topics that were discussed include:

  1. How can the participating states track progress towards the overall goals of the summit, as well as the individual state commitments made in Washington, D.C.?
  2. How can these goals and commitments best be implemented within existing institutions and agreements?
  3. What topics should be addressed at the next summit, scheduled to be held in Seoul in 2012?
  4. How can states not represented at the original summit in 2010 be engaged in the discussions?
  5. How can international law play a larger role in guiding the summit’s communiqué and work plan?

In April 2010, U.S. President Obama convened the first global Nuclear Security Summit to “ensure that terrorists never gain access to plutonium or highly-enriched uranium.” Leaders from 47 states, the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union convened to discuss the dangers posed by the theft, loss, and illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, as well as the necessary steps to maintain the safety and security of these materials in nuclear weapons and facilities. More information on the outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit can be found at: