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United States Ratifies Key Nuclear Security Amendment

The new Chargé ad interim and Governor from the USA, HE Henry S. Ensher delivers his country's instrument of ratification to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at his offices in Vienna on 31 July 2015. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA)

The United States today formally ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), a move welcomed by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano as “an important step to bolster nuclear security around the world.” Two-thirds of the 151 States Parties to the Convention must adhere to the Amendment for it to enter into force. Adherence by 14 more States Parties is still needed for the Amendment to take effect.

“The adoption of the Amendment to the CPPNM is the single most important step the international community can take to strengthen nuclear security globally,” Mr Amano said after receiving the instrument of ratification from Ambassador Henry S. Ensher, the newly appointed Resident Representative of the United States to the IAEA. “The ratification of the Amendment by the USA brings this vital tool a step closer to coming into force.”

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. However, the CPPNM doesn’t cover the physical protection of nuclear material in peaceful domestic use, storage or transport — or the physical protection of nuclear facilities. In 2005, the States Parties to the Convention adopted the Amendment to broaden its scope.

“The 2005 Amendment obliges countries to protect nuclear facilities, as well as nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport. It provides for more international cooperation on locating and recovering stolen or smuggled nuclear material,” Mr Amano said. “It would make it harder for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear material or to sabotage a nuclear facility.”

Meeting with Mr Amano at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Chargé ad interim and Governor from the USA, H.E. Henry Ensher of the United States delivered his country’s instrument of ratification.

The USA’s ratification of the Amendment follows that of Italy and Turkey, which submitted their instruments to the IAEA on 8 July 2015. 

Ratification by the USA follows legislation passed by the Senate in June, and signed by President Obama. In a statement issued shortly thereafter, Secretary of State John Kerry said that once the USA’s ratification was completed, it would cooperate with “other countries to secure the additional ratifications that are needed in order for the amendment to enter into force with the goal of achieving this by the end of the year.”

The IAEA General Conference, held every September, has called upon all States Parties to the CPPNM to adhere to the Amendment as soon as possible.

“Nuclear terrorism is a risk that we should not ignore,” Mr Amano said. “I encourage all countries to help strengthen nuclear security by adhering to this important Amendment.”

Nuclear terrorism is a risk that we should not ignore. I encourage all countries to help strengthen nuclear security by adhering to this important Amendment.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano
Last update: 26 July 2017

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