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Parties to the Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material Convene for the First Time

ACCPNM, nuclear security, protection

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi highlights the importance of the weeklong conference on the A/CPPNM. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA)

Nearly six years since entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the IAEA is hosting the first conference to review its implementation and its adequacy.

“We are gathered for a significant milestone in international nuclear security: for the first time the Parties to the Amendment to the CPPNM, now numbering 129, are reviewing the implementation and the adequacy of the only legally binding undertakings covering the physical protection of nuclear material and facilities,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in his opening remarks, reflecting on the importance of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (A/CPPNM).

During the weeklong conference, the delegations of the A/CPPNM Parties will share their experiences in the implementation of the A/CPPNM, including steps taken to ensure robust physical protection of nuclear facilities and nuclear material, efforts taken to increase international cooperation, and actions implemented to criminalize offences involving nuclear material or facilities.

Side events organized on the margins of the Conference will also provide an opportunity for further discussion of different aspects of nuclear security and the Convention as amended. One of the side events, jointly organized by the IAEA and Canada, is specifically dedicated to the A/CPPNM universalization challenges and success stories.  

The CPPNM currently has 164 Parties. There are still 35 Parties to the original Convention that have not yet joined the Amendment. Twenty-nine States have not yet joined the original Convention or the Amendment. “This conference is an opportunity to create momentum for further universalization. […] This conference is also an opportunity for Parties to underline their commitment to advancing nuclear security in general,” said Ambassador Benno Laggner of Switzerland, Co-President of the conference. Ambassador Suleiman Dauda Umar of Nigeria, Co-President of the Conference, added: “We hope that the purpose of nuclear power shall be limited to the peaceful uses and the economic development of Member States, and we also hope that most States will bring into force the A/CPPNM.”

Representatives from several international organizations and non-governmental organizations, approved by the Parties to the A/CPPNM to participate in the Conference, are present as observers.

Importance of the A/CPPNM

Countries all over the world use nuclear science and technology to meet their development objectives in areas including energy, health, food production, industry, water management, and environmental protection. The safety and security of the use of nuclear materials is at the forefront to prevent, detect and respond to potential incidents of theft, loss, illicit trafficking and other malicious acts. The CPPNM and its Amendment provide a framework for countries to work together to enhance nuclear security nationally, regionally and globally. The CPPNM as amended helps ensure that nuclear material and facilities are properly protected against malicious acts, and measures implemented by States to meet their obligations reduce the likelihood of malicious acts involving nuclear material and facilities.

“As nuclear is growing in importance and nuclear material becomes more prevalent, the world is changing. It is obvious for all of us that the atlas of opportunity and threat is being regrown in unpredictable ways and at unprecedented speed. It is in this context that the CPPNM as amended must serve its purpose. That means faster universalization of the A/CPPNM, faster implementation of the Treaty and its Amendment," said Mr Grossi.

Whereas the original CPPNM requires the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes in international transport, the Amendment, which entered into force in 2016, expands the scope of the Convention to cover physical protection of nuclear facilities and nuclear material used for peaceful purposes in domestic use, storage and transport. The Amendment also adds to the list of criminal offences involving nuclear material and nuclear facilities covered under the Convention, and it strengthens the basis for international cooperation.

This first Conference to review the CPPNM as amended is supported by funding from the European Union and the Governments of Switzerland and the United States.

The crucial role of the IAEA

In addition to the role of the Director General of the IAEA as depositary of the Convention as amended, the IAEA also provides legislative and technical assistance to support States in adhering to and implementing the CPPNM and its Amendment, upon a State’s request.

The IAEA offers assistance in drafting and reviewing legislation, as well as peer reviews and advisory services on request, such as the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS). It also offers e-learning courses to support countries in enhancing nuclear security. IAEA publications are also available to support countries in adhering to and implementing the provisions of the CPPNM as amended, including the Handbook on Nuclear Law, Volume I and Volume II, and the Nuclear Security Series.

The IAEA also holds an important role in promoting universal adherence to the CPPNM and its Amendment. In this regard, it conducts outreach activities, supports capacity building services and dedicates resources to increase awareness about the benefits of the CPPNM as amended.

As noted and reiterated by Mr Grossi today, the IAEA will continue its efforts by soon opening a Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre for training on various topics of nuclear security.

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