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International security concerns top agenda at G8's Muskoka summit

The G8 and G20 will meet in Canada over the coming weekend in back-to-back summits aimed at addressing a host of major crises threatening global security, society and the world economy.

A US atom bomb test

Nuclear-armed terrorists and rogue states are a G8 concern

Before the G20 meets in Toronto to discuss the global financial crisis, economic recovery and financial reforms, G8 leaders will meet in Muskoka on Friday to tackle pressing security issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, vulnerable and fragile states and international terrorism.

Nuclear non-proliferation, in particular, is likely to top the G8 agenda with the on-going Iran crisis the most prominent topic within that discussion.

Experts divided on G8's influence over Iran situation

However, Professor Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, believes there will be little more than a reiteration of the United Nations' stance at the G8 summit.

"I personally don't think that the G8 will say anything new on Iran," Prof. Perthes told Deutsche Welle. "They will basically repeat what the last UN Security Council resolution said: that sanctions are to bring Iran to the table, asking Iran to cooperate, making clear that the international community is still prepared to talk with Iran, and that they would appreciate it if Turkey and Brazil also continue their diplomatic efforts."

Anthony Seaboyer, a nuclear security expert with the German Council for Foreign Relations, disagrees. He believes the G8 meeting provides an opportunity for the international community to apply further pressure on Iran.

An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan

Iran still pursues it nuclear ambitions despite sanctions

"The G8 can speak with one voice to Iran and demand cooperation," Seaboyer told Deutsche Welle. "And it can condemn the barring of the two IAEA officials from Iran this week, as well as the new 'research' reactor Iran has announced that will have four times the production capability of the current research reactor."

Seaboyer said G8 members should go unilaterally beyond the current UN sanctions.

"They can show unity on the issue speaking clear words with one voice," he said. "That would be a success and would show Iran that they cannot split the international community. Ideally we will see more countries coming up with bilateral sanctions that go further than the UN sanctions."

The non-proliferation discussions are likely to provide crossover with talks on international terrorism given the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington where the worrying prospect of terrorists getting hold of fissile material topped the agenda.

Nuclear terrorism on the agenda

An Iranian official holds a capsule of uranium hexaflouride, or UF6 gas

The G8 will look to clamp down on nuclear smuggling

It is accepted knowledge that some terrorist organizations are pursuing the materials needed to build a nuclear weapon and have the intent to use one. So the G8 is expected to concentrate on efforts to curb money-laundering by terrorist organizations and promote deeper international cooperation on investigations intended to prevent nuclear technology and material changing hands through criminal networks.

An extension to the Global Partnership against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is also likely, a program which committed $20 billion (16.1 billion euros) over 10 years to secure nuclear weapons and fissile materials in the former Soviet Union at the Kananaskis summit in 2002. G8 leaders are expected to extend the partnership program with a further commitment of $10 billion.

"The G8 can also try to find new initiatives and overcome the difficulties in implementation that are obvious in the existing initiatives for stopping nuclear terrorism," said Seaboyer.

Read more on the G8 and its agenda

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