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Four Countries Join Treaties to Strengthen Nuclear Safety and Security

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Representatives from Lesotho, Ecuador, Chad and Bolivia deposited legal instruments expressing consent to be bound by various multilateral treaties related to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Multilateral treaties under IAEA auspices cover a range of subjects, particularly in strengthening nuclear safety and security globally. At the annual Treaty Event on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference on Monday, Bolivia, Chad, Ecuador and Lesotho deposited in the hands of Acting Director General Cornel Feruta legal instruments expressing consent to be bound by five multilateral treaties and an amendment. The focus of this year’s event was on the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its Amendment.

“This is an important part of our work. It is about the process to allow the exchange of views and ideas among contracting Parties on the best practices,” said Acting Director General Feruta. “We explain to Member States the process leading to the entry into force of a legal instrument," stressing the Agency's role in assisting Member States to understand what commitments they undertake by joining a convention.

Bolivia joins two nuclear safety treaties

Bolivia’s Ambassador to Austria and Resident Representative to the IAEA, Nardi Suxo Iturry, deposited instruments of accession to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.     

The Convention on Nuclear Safety is the first international treaty to address the safe and environmentally sound operation of nuclear installations. The Convention, which was adopted in 1994, requires State Parties to take steps to ensure that siting, design and construction, as well as operation, of a nuclear installation are aligned with the Convention to prevent accidents, to protect against the release of radioactive materials and to mitigate their radiological consequences, should they occur. With Bolivia’s accession, the Convention has 87 Parties.

The Joint Convention is the first international treaty on the safety of spent fuel management and radioactive waste management. It ensures that there are effective defences against potential hazards to protect individuals, society and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. The Joint Convention was adopted in 1997, and with Bolivia’s accession, the Convention now has now 81 Parties.

Bolivia’s first nuclear technology research and development centre, which will be equipped with a 200kW research reactor, is under construction and is scheduled for completion by 2022.

Chad joins amended nuclear security treaty

The Resident Representative of the Republic of Chad to the IAEA, Mariam Ali Moussa, deposited an instrument of accession to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and of ratification of the 2005 CPPNM Amendment. Following these treaty actions, the CPPNM has now 158 Parties, 119 of which are also party to its 2005 Amendment.

The CPPNM focuses on the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes during international transport. In 2005, the State Parties to the Convention adopted the Amendment to CPPNM to broaden its scope to also include physical protection requirements for nuclear facilities and nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. The Amendment entered into force on 8 May 2016.

Ecuador accedes to conventions on assistance and early notification of a nuclear accident

Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna, David Roberto Betancourt-Ruales, deposited instruments of accession to the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident.

The Convention on Assistance provides a mutual assistance mechanism to minimize the consequences of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency and to protect life, property and the environment against the effects of radioactive releases. The Convention, which was adopted in 1986 following the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, provides a framework for cooperation among State Parties, with the IAEA facilitating prompt assistance.

Ecuador became the 118th Party to the Convention.

The Convention on Early Notification strengthens the international response to nuclear accidents by providing a mechanism for rapid information exchange to minimize transboundary radiological consequences. In the event of an accident, the State must promptly provide States that are or may be physically affected and the Agency with relevant information. The Convention was also adopted in 1986 following the Chernobyl accident.   

With the deposit by Ecuador, there are now 123 Parties to the Convention.

Lesotho accepts Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA

Lesotho, which became a member of the IAEA in July 2009, deposited an instrument of acceptance of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho, Halebonoe Setsabi, deposited the instrument, which brings the number of Parties to the Agreement to 88.

The Agreement grants immunity to the Agency, its property and assets from legal processes, and it gives the Agency the capacity to contract, acquire and dispose of property and institute legal proceedings. The Board of Governors approved the Agreement in 1959.

In related developments, Bolivia and Ethiopia signed with the IAEA the additional protocol to their Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements. Ethiopia’s Additional Protocol entered into force upon signature and Bolivia’s Additional Protocol will enter into force at a later date when the IAEA receives a notification from Bolivia. The additional protocol, which is now in force with 136 countries, significantly increases the IAEA’s ability to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear material in States with comprehensive safeguards agreements. During the GC, the Government of Benin submitted a written notification that Benin had passed legislation to bring into force a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocol.

“Ethiopia is looking to expand the use of nuclear technology, including exploring the possibility of using nuclear power,” said Minister for Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria. “We want to reassure the international community that all nuclear material in Ethiopia is and will remain exclusively in peaceful use.”

The annual Treaty Event, hosted by the IAEA’s Office of Legal Affairs aims to promote adherence to treaties concluded under the IAEA’s auspices.

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