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Ministers at IAEA Conference Highlight Importance of Strong Global Legal Framework for Nuclear Security

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Opening remarks by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the ministerial side event on the occasion of the International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS 2020). (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Ministers attending the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security (ICONS 2020) last week agreed on the importance of effective international legal instruments for strengthening global nuclear security and recognised the need for all countries that have not already done so to adhere to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its Amendment.

“A nuclear security incident in one country could have effects far beyond that country’s borders, so it is vital that all of us remain ahead of the curve in guarding against nuclear terrorism and other malicious acts,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told a ministerial-level side event on the CPPNM and its Amendment. “Achieving universality of the amended CPPNM is key to our efforts to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism and other malicious acts, and supporting this goal is a priority for the Agency.”

The original CPPNM entered into force in 1987 and covers the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes during international transport; the criminalisation of certain offences; and international co-operation. The Amendment, which entered into force in 2016, extends the scope of the CPPNM to also cover nuclear facilities and nuclear material used for peaceful purposes in domestic use, storage and transport. It further adds criminal offenses related to illicit trafficking and sabotage of nuclear material or a nuclear facility, as well as provides for strengthened international co-operation. The CPPNM and its Amendment remain the only internationally legally binding undertakings in the area of physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes. Currently there are 160 Parties to the CPPNM and 123 Parties that have also joined the Amendment.

Participants in the side event’s panel included Zubairu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Fabio Mendes Marzano, Vice Minister for National Sovereignty and Citizenship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change of Malaysia and Ghislain D’Hoop, Belgium’s Ambassador in Vienna and Permanent Representative to the international organizations located here.

Participants discussed their States’ efforts to support a strong and effective legal framework for nuclear security and the IAEA’s role in universalization of legal instruments for nuclear security. Swiss Ambassador Benno Laggner moderated the discussion.

“We believe that an effective global nuclear security regime would benefit significantly from a universal application of the international legal instruments in the field of nuclear security because the chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” said Mr Dada.

“Nigeria calls on all States that have yet to ratify the CPPNM and its Amendment to consider doing so. We also urge the Secretariat to continue its useful work of promoting universalization, and we consider that it is best suited to continue to take the lead in this regard.”

“We believe that an effective global nuclear security regime would benefit significantly from a universal application of the international legal instruments in the field of nuclear security because the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Nigeria calls on all States that have yet to ratify the CPPNM and its Amendment to consider doing so. We also urge the Secretariat to continue its useful work of promoting universalization, and we consider that it is best suited to continue to take the lead in this regard.
Zubairu Dada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria

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