The United States and Japan have agreed to work out a road map to prevent nuclear terrorism ahead of the second nuclear security summit in 2012, according to a senior White House official visiting Tokyo.
The road map is intended to cover measures to block theft of nuclear materials by internal personnel and technological cooperation between the two countries over “security by design concepts” of nuclear-related facilities such as nuclear power plants and nuclear fuel-processing facilities.
Laura Holgate, senior director for weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and threat reduction at the White House’s National Security Council, indicated that the United States and Japan are deepening their alliance in nuclear security for protecting nuclear materials and nuclear-related facilities — a field of great importance to the Obama administration.
Japan operates a large number of nuclear reactors and plans to expand exports of nuclear power plants overseas, making it an important player in the U.S. initiative.
“We did agree on a road map. We’re close to agreement,” Holgate said. “I guess I’m still waiting to hear the last formal feedback from our counterparts. But, we had an agreement at the table, certainly, of a shared approach to how we will implement the topics that were addressed in the ‘terms of reference’ that we agreed in October of last year.
“As you can imagine, this is a sensitive topic, so the details of what we’re going to do together, I think, are going to be not something I can talk about in public. But, you’ve seen the terms of reference, so you’re familiar with the scope of activities.”
Holgate, who headed the U.S. delegation at the Japan-U.S. Nuclear Security Working Group’s first meeting late last month, said, “When we talk about nuclear terrorism, fortunately most of that conversation is hypothetical.
“When we talk about nuclear theft, that’s not hypothetical, and we know what cases we have, and we can design around those risks,” she added.
“The known cases of smuggling of weapons-usable material primarily are related to small amounts that were removed from large industrial facilities, by workers, or people who were able to get access to that material,” she said.
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