Côte d'Ivoire’s approval on 10 February of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) brings to just 11 the number of ratifications required for the Amendment to enter into force.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano welcomed this move today at the Meeting on the Entry Into Force of the Amendment to the CPPNM at the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation and encouraged all countries which have not yet done so to become party to the Amendment as a matter of urgency.
“The CPPNM is the most important area of unfinished business in nuclear security. The Amendment was adopted more than 10 years ago, but it has still not entered into force because not enough countries have adhered to it,” Mr Amano said. “Entry into force would reduce the likelihood of terrorists being able to detonate a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a dirty bomb. It would also reduce the risk of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant that could create a release of radioactivity.”
Nearly 2800 incidents involving radioactive material getting out of regulatory control have been reported to the IAEA by Member States since 1995. Only a few of these involve material that could be used to make a nuclear explosive device, but some could be combined with conventional explosives to create a dirty bomb.
The CPPNM, the only legally binding international undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material, entered into force in 1987. It focuses on the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes during international transport and did not cover the protection of nuclear facilities. In 2005, the Parties to the Convention adopted the Amendment to broaden the scope of the original Convention to cover nuclear facilities and nuclear material in domestic use.
Two-thirds of the States Parties to the CPPNM must adhere to the Amendment for it to enter into force. The CPPNM now has 152 States Parties and the Amendment has 91 Contracting States. Adherence by 11 more States Parties is still needed for the Amendment to take effect.
Côte d'Ivoire’s ratification of the Amendment closely follows that of Morocco, on 10 December, of Iceland, on 27 October, and of Botswana, which submitted its ratification during the IAEA’s 59th General Conference in September. “The good news is that we now have real momentum and entry into force appears to be finally within reach,” Mr Amano said. “I hope that can happen this year.”