Security of Nuclear Material
Israel, India Join Physical Protection Convention
Two more countries -- Israel and India -- have joined Parties to an international convention on the security of nuclear material. Known as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the agreement includes provisions that require States to protect nuclear material from being stolen while in international transport. The Convention was adopted in 1979 and has been in force since 1987. Israel and India notified the IAEA of their respective decisions on 23 January 2002.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has led renewed international calls in recent months for all States to join the Convention, which is under IAEA auspices and legally underpins the world's regime for protection of nuclear material. He further has pointed to the need for strengthening the Convention's provisions in light of heightened concern over potential acts of nuclear terrorism. In early December 2001, the IAEA convened a group of legal and technical experts to draft an amendment to the Convention that, among other points, extends its obligations to nuclear material in domestic use, storage, and transit. Presently it obliges Parties to protect nuclear material while in international transport. It also requires Parties to make specific acts criminal offenses under their respective national laws, a provision that applies to nuclear material in international transport as well as to civil nuclear material while in domestic use, storage, and transport.
Excerpt from IAEA Director General Statement to the Agency's General Conference, September 2001
As you will recall, in November 1999 I convened an informal open ended expert meeting to discuss whether the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material was in need of revision. Last week, the Board of Governors endorsed the recommendation of the expert meeting that the international physical protection regime clearly needed to be strengthened, and that a spectrum of measures should be employed - including the drafting of a well defined amendment to strengthen the Convention, to be reviewed by States Parties with a view to determine if it should be submitted to an amendment conference in accordance with Article 20 of the Convention. As recommended, I will convene an open-ended group of legal and technical experts in December 2001 to draft such an amendment.
The expert meeting also recommended the establishment of a set of "Physical Protection Objectives and Fundamental Principles" for submission to the Agency's Board of Governors. These Security Fundamentals are not intended to replace or detract from the more detailed recommendations in INFCIRC/225, nor to diminish the need for all Member States to become party to the Convention. Rather, these Security Fundamentals, which were endorsed by the Board last week, should provide an appropriate framework for strengthening and raising awareness of the physical protection regime. [Read full statement]
In announcing its accession to the Convention, India noted the "increasing importance" of the agreement to strengthen international efforts against illicit trafficking of nuclear material and potential acts of nuclear terrorism. India already has put into place the measures necessary to implement the provisions of the Conventionvirtual="http://www.iaea.org/SSI/footer.html">