Follow a Sensible, Coordinated and Balanced Approach to Nuclear Security*
March 24, 2014
Your Excellency Prime Minister Mark Rutte,
Today, we are meeting here at The Hague for an important discussion on ways to enhance nuclear security. First of all, I wish to express heartfelt thanks to Prime Minister Rutte and the Dutch government for the active efforts and considerate arrangements they have made for this summit.
During the 20th century, the discovery of the atom and the subsequent development and utilization of nuclear energy gave new impetus to the progress of humanity and greatly enhanced our ability to understand and shape the world. Yet the development of nuclear energy has its associated risks and challenges. To make better use of nuclear energy and achieve greater progress, mankind must be able to respond to various nuclear security challenges and ensure the safety of nuclear materials and facilities.
Enhancing nuclear security is a never-ending process. As long as we continue to tap nuclear energy, we must maintain our efforts in enhancing nuclear security. From Washington DC in 2010 to Seoul in 2012 and to The Hague today, the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) has the great responsibility of building international consensus in this regard and deepening nuclear security efforts. We must take a sensible, coordinated and balanced approach to nuclear security and keep it on the track of sound and sustainable development.
First, we should place equal emphasis on development and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security. The peaceful use of nuclear energy is important for ensuring energy security and tackling climate change. Like Prometheus who gave fire to humanity, the peaceful use of nuclear energy has sparked a flame of hope and opened up a bright future for mankind. But without effective safeguards for nuclear safety and without an adequate response to the potential security risks of nuclear materials and facilities, such a bright future will be overshadowed by dark clouds or even by nuclear disaster. Therefore, we must strictly abide by the principle of making safety the top priority if we are to keep the flame of hope for nuclear energy development burning.
We must follow the approach of enhancing security for the sake of development and promoting development by upholding security, and bring the goals of development and security in alignment with each other. We must convince the governments and nuclear power companies of all countries that developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.
Second, we should place equal emphasis on rights and obligations, and push forward the international nuclear security process on the basis of respecting the rights and interests of all countries. Nothing can be accomplished without norms and standards. All countries should earnestly fulfill their obligations under international legal instruments relating to nuclear security, fully implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, consolidate and strengthen the existing legal framework governing nuclear security, and provide institutional support and universally accepted guidelines for international efforts to enhance nuclear security. China hopes that more countries will consider ratifying the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its amendment, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Countries differ in national conditions and in the status of their nuclear power development, and the nuclear security challenges they face also vary from one to another. As the saying goes, you need different keys to open different locks. While stressing the importance of countries honoring their international obligations, we should respect their right to adopt nuclear security policies and measures best suited to their specific conditions as well as their right to protect sensitive nuclear security information. We should adopt a fair and pragmatic attitude, and advance the international nuclear security process in an active yet prudent manner.
Third, we should place equal emphasis on independent and collaborative efforts, and seek universal nuclear security through mutually beneficial cooperation. Nuclear security is first and foremost a national goal, and the primary responsibility must be borne by national governments. They must understand and fulfill their responsibilities, develop a stronger awareness of nuclear security, foster a nuclear security culture, strengthen institutions, and enhance technological capacity. This is the responsible thing to do not only for their own sake but also for the good of the world as a whole.
Nuclear security is also a global endeavor. The amount of water a barrel can hold is determined by its shortest stave. The loss of nuclear material in one country can be a threat to the whole world. A concerted, global effort is therefore required to achieve universal nuclear security. We must bring more countries into the international nuclear security process and try to turn it into a global undertaking, so that all will contribute to and benefit from it. We should strengthen exchanges to learn from each other and share experiences, and improve coordination between the relevant multilateral mechanisms and initiatives. Although the starting line may be different for different countries, we should make sure that no one falls behind in this common endeavor.
Fourth, we should place equal emphasis on treating symptoms and addressing causes, and advance the nuclear security endeavor in all respects with the goal of removing the associated risks at the root. The issue of nuclear security has many dimensions, from exercising sound and effective management to developing advanced and secure nuclear energy technologies and to dealing with nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. To eliminate the potential risks of nuclear security and nuclear proliferation in a direct and effective way, we must improve relevant policies and measures, develop modern, low-risk nuclear energy technologies, maintain balanced supply and demand of nuclear materials, strengthen non-proliferation efforts and export control, and step up international cooperation against nuclear terrorism.
But more importantly, we must tackle the root causes. We need to foster a peaceful and stable international environment, encourage harmonious and friendly relations between countries, and conduct exchanges among different civilizations in an amicable and open-minded manner. This is the only way to tackle the root causes of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation, and to achieve lasting security and development of nuclear energy.
China gives top priority to nuclear security in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and manages nuclear materials and facilities in accordance with the highest standards. China has maintained a good record of nuclear security in the past 50 years and more.
According to Dutch philosopher Erasmus, prevention is better than cure. The horrific nuclear accidents of the past few years have rung the alarm bell for all of us, and we must do whatever we can to prevent a recurrence of past tragedies.
As a precautionary step, China has tightened nuclear security measures across the board. We have made great efforts to improve our technology and emergency response, and conducted comprehensive security checks on nuclear facilities across the country to make sure that all nuclear materials and facilities are placed under effective safeguards. We have adopted and implemented a medium- and long-term program on nuclear security and improved the relevant legal framework, and we are in the process of drafting national regulations with a view to putting our nuclear security endeavors on an institutional and legal footing.
China is actively promoting international cooperation on nuclear security, beginning with the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security, a joint project between China and the United States. Construction of the Center is well under way. It will contribute to technical exchanges and cooperation on nuclear security in the region and beyond. China has also launched a number of cooperation projects with Russia and Kazakhstan to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. China supports the efforts to reduce to a minimum the use of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) when economically and technologically feasible, and is helping Ghana convert an HEU-fueled research reactor to one using low-enrichment uranium within the IAEA framework. China has also made contributions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, and helped enhance the nuclear security capability of Asia Pacific countries through hosting training sessions and a variety of other ways.
Where light inches forward, darkness retreats. The more we do to enhance nuclear security, the fewer opportunities we will offer to terrorists. To achieve lasting nuclear security, China will continue its efforts in the following areas:
First, China will stay firmly committed to strengthening its own nuclear security capability. We will continue to enhance the government's regulatory capacity, increase investments in relevant technological development and human resources, and foster and develop a nuclear security culture.
Second, China will stay firmly committed to building an international nuclear security system. We will work with other countries to build an international nuclear security system featuring fairness and mutually beneficial cooperation, and encourage countries to share the fruits of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Third, China will stay firmly committed to supporting international cooperation on nuclear security. We stand ready to share technology, experience, resources and platforms to promote regional and international nuclear security cooperation. China supports the IAEA's leading role and encourages it to help developing countries build their nuclear security capacity. China will continue to take an active part in nuclear security activities, and invite the IAEA to conduct an International Physical Protection Advisory Service.
Fourth, China will stay firmly committed to upholding regional and global peace and stability. We will continue to pursue peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation, handle differences and disputes through equality-based dialogue and friendly consultations, and work with all other countries to remove the root causes of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
To strengthen nuclear security is our shared commitment and common responsibility. Let us work together so that the people of the whole world will have more confidence in lasting nuclear security and the benefits nuclear energy brings them.
* Speech at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)