Distributed among some 40 countries around the world, there is enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium to produce some 120,000 nuclear bombs, and a considerable portion of this material is not held under sufficient control and supervision. Terrorist organizations and other non-state actors have been actively seeking to obtain some of these nuclear materials in order to manufacture nuclear weapons. Furthermore, North Korea, Iran and Syria have been directly operating nuclear weapons programs, posing a threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Considering these developments, we cannot deny that the global nuclear security situation has become increasingly vulnerable. President Obama has felt these concerns and drawn attention to the importance of nuclear security, and in April 2010 he hosted the 1st Nuclear Security Summit in order to seek common ground and cooperation among world leaders.

Further, at President Obama’s suggestion, the 2nd Nuclear Security Summit is scheduled to be held in South Korea in 2012. The 2012 summit will be an international conference on a far greater scale than the G20 summit. South Korea plans to make every effort to prepare for this conference so that it can focus the capacities of the international community and create a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

Based on this, “Nuclear Security 2012: Challenges of Proliferation and Implication for the Korean Peninsula” will address the topics of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and nuclear security. This project brings together researchers from the U.S. and South Korea, primarily drawing from the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) and the U.S.-Korea Institute (USKI) at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. Hoping for the success of the 2nd Nuclear Security Summit, we will address the topic of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and nuclear security.

The editors of this volume hope that it will help researchers, students, and general readers in South Korea and the U.S. to better understand the current state of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the threat posed to global nuclear security by the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran and Syria, and the efforts by non-state actors such as terrorist organizations to acquire materials for the purpose of making nuclear weapons. They also hope that it will help to increase awareness of the strategic importance of the ROK-U.S. alliance in deterring asymmetric threats such as the North Korean nuclear programs.