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Exchanging Views on the Implementation of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its Amendment


A customs officer checking the interior of a vehicule for radioactivity using a handheld detector. (Photo: IAEA)

How can we ensure effective implementation of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment, which entered into force on 8 May this year, and facilitate universal adherence to this key nuclear security agreement? This was the focus of discussion between Member States representatives and IAEA experts today at the IAEA General Conference’s Treaty Event.

“Entry into force was a significant step towards making the world more secure. It will reduce the risk of nuclear material or facilities being subjected to malicious acts,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the event. “However, there are still a large number of countries which are not parties to the Amendment. Terrorists will target the weakest link in any chain. Universal adherence to the amended Convention is therefore essential. I urge all States that have not yet done so to adhere to the CPPNM and the Amendment.”

The CPPNM Amendment expands the original Convention, adopted in 1979, to cover the protection of nuclear facilities and nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. In addition, it expands the existing offences identified in the CPPNM, such as the theft of nuclear material, and introduces new ones, in particular the smuggling of nuclear material and the actual or threatened sabotage of nuclear facilities. Further, the Amendment provides for expanded cooperation and information sharing between States to locate and recover stolen material and in the case of sabotage.

The IAEA will assist States that have not yet joined the CPPNM or its Amendment in taking the necessary steps towards adherence, and will also assist them in meeting their obligations under the amended Convention, Mr Amano said. The IAEA will host a meeting of representatives of States party to the Amendment and the CPPNM from 30 November to 2 December 2016.

Sharing experience on the implementation of the CPPNM and its Amendment

Ambassadors of the United States, Bulgaria, Nicaragua and Austria shared their experience on the implementation of the amended CPPNM. They also talked about how the Amendment would strengthen the global nuclear security framework.

“Because a nuclear incident anywhere would undermine international support for access to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, the global nuclear security framework is key to enabling Member States to continue to reap the benefits of the atom,” said Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate, Permanent Representative of the United States to the IAEA and other International Organizations in Vienna. “The amended Convention is one important instrument that international community can look to,” Holgate added.

Bulgaria strongly believes that the international community should not lose the momentum and press for the universalization of the Amendment, said Svetoslav Ivanov Spassov, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations in Vienna. “Today even more than before the threat of nuclear terrorism must be controlled by all States, and all States should therefore join the CPPNM and its Amendment and have national legislation in place that conforms to internationally recognized standards.”

Only international cooperation can help to mitigate the risks posed by nuclear terrorism, said Hernán Estrada Román, Resident Representative of Nicaragua to the IAEA. “No matter how small or big a country is, it is important to note that every single State has a unique responsibility towards nuclear security. For Nicaragua, it was very important to have an inclusive process in a multilateral manner and the Amendment was a concrete result of that.”

The Austrian government expects that several countries will move forward with implementation of the Amendment as a result of discussions and information exchange at the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security, to be held in Vienna from 5-9 December, said Christine Stix-Hackl, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in Vienna. “I look forward to intensive cooperation,” she said.

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