President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday at Hague, The Netherlands, reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the global fight against the threat of nuclear terrorism.
A statement issued in Abuja by President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said Jonathan made this known at the ongoing third global Nuclear Security Summit.
It stated that Jonathan said Nigeria, under his leadership would continue to pursue efforts to harness nuclear energy and technology for socio-economic development.
He said while Nigeria would support efforts against proliferation of nuclear weapons, the world must respect the right of countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy for development purpose.
“As a developing country, Nigeria needs to harness nuclear technology for socio-economic development. It is for this reason we subscribe to the view that international and regional cooperation efforts should be based on the principle of maintaining a balance between nuclear non-proliferation obligations and the inalienable right of states to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for development purposes.
“While this is important, we will also like to draw attention to the need to maintain the highest standards of nuclear safety and security in establishing peaceful nuclear facilities,” Jonathan said at the summit.
According to him, the Federal Government has submitted an executive bill to the National Assembly to accommodate the country’s obligations under international treaties on nuclear safety and security.
He said this was in line with Nigeria’s commitment to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
“Nigeria accords high priority to all global efforts toward ending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including nuclear weapons.
“To this end, Nigeria has since the last summit in Seoul, strengthened the legal framework for fighting terrorism through the adoption in 2013, of an amendment to its Terrorism (Prevention) Act, thus ensuring the implementation of more robust counter-terrorism measures in the country.
“Nigeria’s ratification of some international treaties and conventions in the realm of nuclear safety, security and safeguards has necessitated the review of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority Act resulting in the recent decision of the Government to submit a new Bill to parliament for consideration and passage into law in order to accommodate our obligations under these instruments.
“The instruments, include the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its amended version of 2005, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.”
According to him the bill, which is awaiting passage by the National Assembly, is to ensure the fulfilment of Nigeria’s international and national Nuclear Safety, Security, Safeguards and radiation protection obligations, by domesticating the international treaties.
“The bill is presently awaiting passage by the National Assembly. Furthermore, as part of the outcome of the second Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul, South Korea, in 2010, states parties were urged on voluntary basis to embark on the process of converting their reactors from the use of Highly Enriched Uranium to Lowly Enriched Uranium.
“Consequently, Nigeria is working in collaboration with the United States of America and China for the conversion of Nigeria’s limited stock of Highly Enriched Uranium used in its research reactor to Lowly Enriched Uranium,” he said.
He noted that one of the main objectives of the summit was to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear materials in the world by preventing materials that could be used to produce nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists and unauthorised non-state actors.
The president said that Nigeria was in support of the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a “non-discriminatory, multi-lateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.”
He commended the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for establishing a Group of Governmental Experts which would begin work in Geneva next week on the proposal.
“Nigeria shares the view that fewer nuclear weapons translate into more nuclear security, while at the same time reducing the risk of proliferation. But it is even more important that states as represented at this summit demonstrate the necessary political will to embark on the path toward the ultimate goal of total and complete nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
He thanked the Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, for hosting the summit and commended President Barack Obama, who was present at the opening ceremony “for his continued leadership of this important project.”
Other world leaders participating in the summit, include President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Francois Hollande of France.
Others are Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon