Security & Safety
6 Dec (NucNet): The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on member states to ratify the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, calling it an “important area of unfinished business in nuclear security”.
In a speech to the first International Regulators Conference on Nuclear Security, organised by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, Yukiya Amano said the amendment, agreed seven years ago, but not yet in force, expands the convention’s coverage beyond the physical protection of nuclear material in international transport to include the protection of nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport, as well as the protection of nuclear facilities against acts of sabotage.
Mr Amano said the amendment’s entry into force would make “an important difference” to global nuclear security by improving national security frameworks and international cooperation. He said he was doing all he could to help make it happen.
He said earlier in 2012 he established the Nuclear Security Guidance Committee, whose purpose is to ensure IAEA member states take part in the development and revision of guidance and standards in nuclear security.
In June 2012, the committee approved the document ‘Objective and Essential Elements of a State’s Nuclear Security Regime’. This was the first security guidance document to be proposed to, and endorsed by, the IAEA board of governors. It was also endorsed by the agency’s general conference in September 2012.
Mr Amano called on all countries to review their current arrangements in the light of the document.
He said international cooperation on nuclear security is vital because terrorists and other criminals do not respect international borders and no country can respond effectively on its own to the threat which they pose.
He detailed the IAEA’s work in helping to minimise the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists, or of nuclear facilities being subjected to “malicious acts”.
He said the IAEA has established internationally accepted guidance and standards which are used as a benchmark for nuclear security and it helps countries to apply these through peer review missions, specialist training and human resource development programmes.
The agency also helps countries to put laws and regulatory infrastructure in place to protect nuclear and other radioactive material.
In July 2013, the IAEA will host an International Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna. Mr Amano said it would be “one of the most important meetings” that the IAEA will host in 2013 and called on all countries to take part at ministerial level to underline the growing international political commitment to achieving “tangible improvements” in nuclear security.
The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material was signed in Vienna and New York on 3 March 1980 and is the only international legally binding undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material. It establishes measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offenses relating to nuclear material.
A conference was held in July 2005 to amend the convention and strengthen its provisions. The amended convention makes it legally binding for signatories to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage as well as transport. It also provides for expanded cooperation between and among states on measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences.
The amendments will take effect once they have been ratified by two-thirds of the parties to the convention.
There are 148 parties to the convention of which 44 had signed as of 17 October 2012.
For more information see the IAEA’s nuclear security website:
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