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Nuclear Security Regime

Work Continues on Strengthening the International Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material

WorldAtom Staff Report

Security of Nuclear Material Legal and technical experts will meet at IAEA headquarters 2-6 September to continue their work of strengthening the international Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

The expert group is meeting to prepare a draft amendment of the CPPNM. The amendment would extend the Convention's scope to cover not only nuclear material in international transport, but also nuclear material in domestic use, storage, and transport, as well as the protection of nuclear material and facilities from sabotage. At present, the CPPNM obliges Parties to apply established levels of physical protection to nuclear material in international transport. It also requires Parties to declare specific acts to be criminal offenses under their respective national laws, and to establish jurisdiction over those offenses to enable the prosecution or extradition of alleged offenders.

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The expert group, convened by IAEA Director General ElBaradei and under the chairmanship of Mr. Denis Flory of France, has held three meetings, in December 2001, March 2002 and June 2002. The June meeting, which concluded 21 June in Vienna, included the participation of experts from 43 States and the European Commission. Chairman Flory reported progress towards final preparation of the draft amendment, but said further work is needed to reach consensus on outstanding issues. Once agreement has been reached, the final draft will be reviewed by States Parties to the Convention with a view toward convening a Diplomatic Conference for the amendment's adoption - ideally before the end of the year.

The CPPNM has been in force since 1987, and has 77 States Parties, nine of which became Parties this year, including Israel, India, and Yugoslavia. Under IAEA auspices, the Convention is the only international legal instrument in the area of physical protection that aims to avert potential dangers from the illegal acquisition and use of nuclear material.

The work reflects heightened interest in strengthening the world's nuclear security regime. In September 2001, the IAEA General Conference of Member States endorsed "Physical Protection Objectives and Fundamental Principles" that were recommended by an expert group in the late 1990s.