Amendment to key security agreement enters into force

09 May 2016

The world will be "a safer place" now that the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) has entered into force, according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano.  

The amendment to the 1987 CPPNM - of which there are currently 152 parties - was first adopted by states in 2005, but it has taken over a decade for it to secure the adherence of two-thirds of states needed for it to become legally binding. That milestone was reached on 8 April when Nicaragua became the 102nd state to adhere to the amendment, which entered into force yesterday.

Amano said, "This is an important occasion. It has taken us nearly 11 years to get here." He added, "The Agency has worked hard, in particular in the last few years, to encourage countries to adhere to the amendment ... Our collective efforts have now paid off. The world will be a safer place as a result." 

"The entry into force of the amendment demonstrates the determination of the international community to act together to strengthen nuclear security globally."

Yukiya Amano
IAEA director general

The 1987 CPPNM covers the physical protection of nuclear materials used for peaceful purposes during international transport. The amendment broadens its scope to cover the protection of nuclear facilities or nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport and makes it legally binding for states to establish, implement and maintain an appropriate physical protection regime applicable to nuclear material and nuclear facilities under their jurisdiction.

Under the amendment, countries are required to establish appropriate physical protection regimes for nuclear material. They also take on new obligations to share information on sabotage and credible threats of sabotage.

There are still 50 parties to the CPPNM that have not adhered to the amendment. "I continue to urge all states to adhere to this important legal instrument," said Amano. "Universal implementation of the amended convention will help to ensure that nuclear material throughout the world is properly protected against malicious acts by terrorists."

The IAEA said it will continue to provide legislative and technical assistance to member states to facilitate the implementation of the amendment.

"While some countries have already made legislative changes, the new international notification and cooperation requirements will only become fully operational now that the amendment has entered into force," the IAEA said.

Amano noted that, as depositary, he is required under the amendment to convene a conference of the parties within five years of its entry into force to review its implementation.

The amount of nuclear material in peaceful use around the world has grown by 70% since 1999 and "will continue to grow in the coming decades as global use of nuclear power increases", the IAEA said. Almost 2800 incidents involving radioactive material "getting out of regulatory control" have been reported to the agency by member states since 1995. Only a few of these cases involved material that could be used to make a nuclear explosive device, although some could be used with conventional explosives to make a 'dirty bomb', it added.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News