The world's leading experts in nuclear energy are in Seoul this week to discuss ways to maximize the peaceful use of nuclear fuel while countering the proliferation of nuclear arms.
The inaugural four-day Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment kicked off in southern Seoul Thursday with nearly 2-hundred industry experts and senior government officials from 19 countries in attendance.
[Interview : Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General Emeritus
International Atomic Energy Agency] "The time has come for the civil society, the international community to send a message loud and clear. We do not want to live in a world that depends on nuclear weapons because our very survival is at stake."
While nine countries, including five Non-Proliferation Treaty members, are known to possess nuclear weapons, IAEA findings indicate several dozen others have acquired the knowledge and capacity to enrich uranium.
And amid the so-called nuclear renaissance in the era of climate change, fossil fuel drainage and rising energy prices, many of the speakers stressed that peaceful development, usage and disposal of nuclear materials should be carried out through multinational efforts.
During his tenure as the IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei had proposed setting up an mechanism which would give all countries access to nuclear fuel and reactor technology, under multinational authority.
According to ElBaradei the mechanism would also address the costly process of disposing of spent nuclear fuel, as well as long-term storage facilities for atomic waste.
As for the nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula, some experts say the multilateral structure isn't necessarily the only approach to normalizing inter-Korean relations.
[Interview : Hans Maretzki
Fmr. East German Ambassador to North Korea] "It is an instrument to discuss the nuclear question, but there are 10, 20 other inter-Korean questions and these probably are not good for a table of six powers or 10 or 12. They must be solved between South Korea and North Korea."
Others point out that since North Korea continues to pursue and flaunt its nuclear ambitions, the international community should focus its dialogue with Pyeongyang on security and economic development.
[Reporter : Choi You-sun
firstname.lastname@example.org] "In-depth discussions examining various issues related to a peaceful, multilateral use of nuclear energy are slated to continue until Friday, after which expert panelists will jointly declare the official Seoul Statement.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News."