As the only legally binding treaty requiring countries to protect nuclear materials and nuclear facilities, the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) is one of the most important tools to prevent nuclear terrorism and is the linchpin to building a strong, effective, and sustainable global nuclear security architecture.
The original CPPNM was adopted on October 26, 1979 and entered into force on February 8, 1987. The CPPNM requires states to provide adequate physical protection of nuclear materials used for peaceful purposes when in international transport and to cooperate to prosecute crimes related to unlawful possession and use of nuclear material.
The amendment to the CPPNM was adopted on July 8, 2005, though it did not enter into force until May 8, 2016. The amendment is significant because it expands the scope of the original treaty to include protection of nuclear materials used for peaceful purposes in domestic use, storage, and transport (not just international transport), and protection of nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes from sabotage. To guide the establishment and maintenance of the physical protection system, the amendment obligates states to apply, insofar as is reasonable and practicable, a set of fundamental security principles that define the key elements of a state’s nuclear security regime, such as establishing a competent authority and setting up licensing and inspection systems to verify compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Although the original and amended CPPNM cover nuclear materials used for peaceful purposes only, the preamble recognizes the importance of protecting nuclear materials in military use.
The 2022 Review Conference
Article 16 of the amended CPPNM requires the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as treaty depositary, to convene a conference to review the amendment five years after its entry into force. The 2022 conference will be the first opportunity for states parties to review implementation of the treaty. Article 16 also allows states parties to call for further conferences to review the treaty at no less than five-year intervals after the mandatory conference in 2022, if a majority agree to do so.
States should use the review conference to create a forum for parties to engage in regular dialogue on how the treaty is being translated into on-the-ground nuclear security progress, monitor and identify gaps in implementation, review progress, promote continuous improvement, and discuss emerging trends that impact security.
States parties can accomplish this goal if they agree, at the 2022 review, to hold regular review conferences as a standing arrangement instead of waiting for a request of a majority of states parties. Parties do not have to agree to hold future review conferences on a fixed cycle but should agree that each review conference would set the next conference date. Regular review conferences will enable a sustainable treaty regime that can adapt as threats, technology, and best practices evolve. And by agreeing to regular review conferences, parties can turn the amended CPPNM into a living, breathing tool for dialogue and progress and demonstrate their commitment to building a strong, effective, and sustainable treaty regime.
History and Overview of the CPPNM and its Amendment
The following is a collection of papers and video resources providing an overview to the CPPNM and its Amendment, including its history and an introduction to its provisions.
The following are links to relevant treaty and preparatory documents.
The following is a collection of documents that is relevant to state implementation of obligations under the CPPNM/A.
Analytic work on preparations for the 2022 Review Conference
The following is a collection of papers, articles, and other analysis on the amended CPPNM and the 2022 review conference published by NTI staff or produced for NTI projects, as well as additional analysis by other organizations.
- National Preparations for the Amended CPPNM
- Sample National Statements Comparisons
- Matthew Bunn and Nickolas Roth, “The Past and Potential Role of Civil Society in Nuclear Security,” paper prepared for the 2020 IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security (February 2020).
- Samantha Neakrase, “Discussion Paper: Key Issues for the Conference to Review the Amendment to the CPPNM,” paper prepared for the November 2019 meeting of the NTI Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities (November 2019).
- Samantha Neakrase, “Strengthening Nuclear Security with a Sustainable CPPNM Regime,” Arms Control Today (June 2019).
- Samantha Neakrase, “Discussion Paper: Building an Effective Nuclear Security Regime Through the Amended CPPNM,” paper prepared for the February 2019 meeting of the NTI Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities (February 2019).
- “How Can the CPPNM/A Review Conference Be Different than Other Mechanisms,” prepared for the February 2019 meeting of the NTI Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities (February 2019).
- Matthew Bunn, Nickolas Roth, and William H. Tobey “Revitalizing Nuclear Security in an Era of Uncertainty”, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (January 2019).
- Michelle Nalabandian and Samantha Pitts-Kiefer, “Strengthening the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Facilities Regime: A Path Forward,” paper prepared for the 2016 IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security (December 2016).