IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano welcomed ratification by Italy and Turkey of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), calling it a key step towards reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism.

In meetings today with Director General Amano, the Ambassadors to the IAEA of Italy and Turkey, H.E. Mr Filippo Formica and H.E. Ms Emine Birnur Fertekligil, delivered their countries’ instruments of ratification. The IAEA Director General is the depositary of the Amendment, which was adopted a decade ago today but has yet to enter into force because not enough countries have become parties to it.

I encourage all countries to help strengthen nuclear security by adhering to this important Amendment… Bringing this vital instrument into force is finally within our grasp.

— IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano

“The Amendment to the CPPNM is the most important area of unfinished business in global nuclear security,” Mr Amano said. “Today’s ratification of the Amendment by Italy and Turkey brings this vital tool a step closer to coming into force.”

Two-thirds of the current 151 States Parties to the Convention must adhere to the Amendment for it to enter into force. Adherence by 15 more States Parties is still needed for that to take place. In June, the United States passed legislation to implement the Amendment but has yet to deposit its instrument of ratification. Other States Parties are also in the final stages of ratification and the IAEA is making every effort to facilitate the process.

“The Amendment would reduce the likelihood of terrorists being able to detonate a dirty bomb in a major city,” Mr Amano said. “It would also reduce the risk of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant that could create a massive release of radioactivity.”

The CPPNM, the only legally binding international undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material, entered into force in 1987. One of 19 international counter-terrorism instruments, 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 which broadens its scope.

In addition to the obligations in the CPPNM regarding nuclear material during international transport, the Amendment makes it legally binding on States Parties to protect nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes and nuclear material used for peaceful purposes in domestic use, storage and transport. It also provides for expanded cooperation among States on rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, to mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and to prevent and combat related offences.

The IAEA General Conference, held every September, has called on all States Parties to the CPPNM to adhere to the Amendment as soon as possible—a message echoed by Mr Amano today.

“I encourage all countries to help strengthen nuclear security by adhering to this important Amendment,” the IAEA Director General said. “A 10-year delay is too long. Bringing this vital instrument into force is finally within our grasp.”

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