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2005/02

IAEA Director General Welcomes Landmark Convention to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

18 April 2005 |

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the adoption of an International convention against nuclear terrorism. "This is a landmark achievement which will bolster global efforts to combat nuclear terrorism," Dr. ElBaradei said. "It will be a key part of international efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear weapons".

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the convention, The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, on 13 April 2005.

The Convention strengthens the global legal framework to counter terrorist threats. Based on a proposal by the Russian Federation in 1998, the Convention focuses on criminal offences related to nuclear terrorism and covers a broad range of possible targets, including nuclear reactors as well as nuclear material and radioactive substances.

Under its provisions, alleged offenders - for example any individual or group that unlawfully and intentionally possesses or uses radioactive material with the intent to cause harm - must be either extradited or prosecuted. States are also encouraged to cooperate with each other in connection with criminal investigations and extradition proceedings. The Convention further requires that any seized nuclear or radiological material be held in accordance with IAEA safeguards, and handled in keeping with the IAEA´s health, safety and physical protection standards.

Dr. ElBaradei also recalled that the Agency is in the process of amending the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, in order to broaden its scope, and in so doing, strengthen the current legal framework for securing nuclear material against illicit uses. A conference will be held from 4 to 8 July in Vienna to consider and adopt the amendments.

The Convention opens for signature in September this year. Dr ElBaradei urged all States to "sign and ratify the Convention without delay so nuclear terrorism will have no chance."