We devote a large proportion of this edition of Global Asia to the complex and wide-ranging security issues that will be front and center at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit that takes place March 26-27. The hope is, as South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Sung-Hwan Kim writes in our pages, that this summit will build on the achievements of the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, in 2010. In a sign of the seriousness with which the international community is taking this endeavor to improve nuclear security and ultimately create “a world free of nuclear weapons,” 58 world leaders will attend the summit in Seoul.
The challenges are enormous, and so too are the risks if those challenges are not met. Ensuring nuclear security, which hinges so much on keeping fissile and radiological material out of the hands of the wrong people, is essential if the world is to be protected from nuclear terrorism in the future. But nuclear security also involves revisiting the current technologies and designs that are meant to make nuclear power safe — a need that was tragically underscored by the disaster in March 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. This is especially so for Asia, where so many countries are building, or plan to build, nuclear power plants in the years ahead. China alone accounts for 40 percent of the nuclear reactors under construction worldwide.
The articles in our cover package provide a comprehensive analysis of why the Seoul Summit is so important to political leaders, policy makers, business people and the public at large, not just in Asia but throughout the world. Our articles don’t merely point to problems that need to be solved, but also to possible solutions and policy options.
Elsewhere in this edition of Global Asia, we analyze the recent steps toward rapprochement between the US and North Korea in the wake of Kim Jung Un’s assumption of leadership and the surprise Feb. 29 agreement between the two countries to exchange food aid for a halt in nuclear and missile tests and inspections. We also provide an exclusive, insider account of discussions between US and North Korean officials at a recent conference in New York that provides remarkable insight into the opportunities — and obstacles — to achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In other articles, we examine the state of Asian cities; the meaning of America’s push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership; the implications of Taiwan’s recent presidential election; how to tame American military interventionism; details of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2012 report, with a focus on Asia; and why it is not wise for the US to try to pick a fight with China. And finally, in our debate section, we pose the question: Is reform in Burma real?
We hope that you will find the articles in this issue valuable, and we welcome your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.