The success of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will depend on how much progress has been made to fulfill the commitments made by nations at the 2010 Washington Summit, how much overall progress is being made toward effective security for all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material, and how the Seoul Summit strengthens what was agreed in Washington. While some achievements have already been publicized, the Seoul Summit will undoubtedly occasion additional announcements. This document is intended to serve as a brief scorecard to evaluate progress toward effective nuclear security, and hence to judge the success of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
The United States encouraged participants in the Washington Summit to commit to specific national actions to improve nuclear security, in addition to the steps outlined in the summit communiqué; in response, 29 countries made 54 such commitments. They ranged from Chile's agreement to send all of its highly enriched uranium (HEU) — amounting to roughly 18 kilograms — to the United States for secure storage to Belgium's modest contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Security Fund.
The Partnership for Global Security and the Arms Control Association found that by February of 2012, roughly 80 percent of the specific commitments made by states at the 2010 Summit had been fulfilled.1
The Washington Summit also issued a politically binding work plan with some 50 separate steps to be undertaken by participating nations. These steps were generally either long-term projects, such as gaining sufficient states parties' ratification of the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material to allow for its entry into force, or ongoing processes, such as assistance for implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which, among other things, requires states to provide "appropriate effective" security and accounting for nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear materials.
While at least some progress has been made toward virtually all of these steps, the very nature of the work dictates that few have been accomplished completely, one exception being the revision of the International Atomic Energy Agency's key document on nuclear security (INFCIRC/225). Thus, the work plan is progressing, but far from complete.
1 Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport and Margaret Balza, The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of National Commitments (Washington, D.C.: Arms Control Association and Partnership for Global Security Report, Updated March 2012)
2 For specifics see Matthew Bunn, Eben Harrell, and Martin B. Malin, "Progress on Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials: the Four-Year Effort and Beyond," (Cambridge, Mass.: Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, March 2012).