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Ministers at IAEA Conference Commit to Further Strengthening Nuclear Security

Vienna, Austria

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Republic of Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se at the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions. Mr Yun is president of the conference. (Photo Credit: IAEA)

Government ministers committed to further strengthening global nuclear security, including by combating illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material, according to a Ministerial Declaration adopted today at the IAEA’s International Conference on Nuclear Security: Commitments and Actions.

The conference, which runs through Friday at the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna, has brought together some 2000 participants from more than 130 Member States and 17 international, regional and non-governmental organizations. They will review the status of international nuclear security and exchange views on strategies and priorities for improving it.

The Ministerial Declaration, adopted at a plenary session attended by more than 50 ministers and other Heads of Delegation including the Conference President, Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, welcomed “advances made by IAEA Member States in developing and enhancing their nuclear security regimes” as well as the “positive impact of the Agency’s increasing nuclear security efforts” even as “much more work remains to be done”.

The ministers “remain concerned about threats to nuclear security and therefore committed to continuously maintaining and further strengthening nuclear security” and underlined “the importance of keeping pace with evolving challenges and threats”. They also pledged “to continue taking active steps to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material, to protect and secure all such material to ensure that it cannot be used by non-State actors in criminal or terrorist acts, and to continue efforts on our territories to prepare for recovering such material in case it has fallen out of regulatory control, taking into account relevant international instruments”.

While welcoming the entry into force earlier this year of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the ministers encouraged the IAEA to continue efforts to promote its universalization, given “the central role of the IAEA in facilitating and coordinating international cooperation” on nuclear security.

“Terrorists and criminals will try to exploit any vulnerability in the global nuclear security system” and “any country could become the target of an attack,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in an address at the start of the conference. “That is why effective international cooperation is vital.”

Among other issues, the ministers expressed support for the IAEA’s core nuclear security activities that assist States upon request, including in establishing national nuclear security regimes, developing guidance, capacity building and advisory services. They also called for further development of IAEA assistance in nuclear forensics, detection, information and transport security, and insider threat mitigation. “In particular, we support the IAEA’s efforts to assist Member States to strengthen computer security, recognizing the threat of cyber-attacks against nuclear installations,” the ministers stated.

The conference’s work and the ministerial declaration will contribute to the IAEA's Nuclear Security Plan for 2018 to 2021, Amano said in his address. The IAEA will strive “to ensure that the commitments made at this conference are translated into practical actions that will make the world safer for everyone,” he said.

*Video of Amano's address can be seen here.

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