Today, at the final Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama announced that 102 countries completed steps to ratify the amendment to the 1980s-era Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), which is enough for the amendment to enter into force 11 years after it was adopted.
The 2005 amendment requires higher standards for securing civilian nuclear materials than the original treaty, which only applied to civilian nuclear materials in international transport. The amended CPPNM requires protection of nuclear materials in use, storage and during both domestic and international transit, and physical protection of nuclear facilities against sabotage. Entry into force also triggers a provision in the treaty requiring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to convene a review conference of the parties in five years. Entry into force of the 2005 amendment has been a key goal of the Nuclear Security Summits.
The amended CPPNM does not apply to nuclear material used or retained for military purposes or to a nuclear facility containing such material—which constitutes 83% of all weapons-usable nuclear materials.
“The Nuclear Security Summit addresses the disturbing lack of an effective global system for securing all nuclear materials—a system in which all states would adhere to international standards and best practices; take reassuring actions to inspire confidence in the security of their materials; and hold each other accountable for their actions. Today’s announcement that this critical international agreement will go into effect brings us closer to this much-needed system.
“I congratulate the international community for achieving this important milestone. Entry into force of this treaty amendment will bolster the legal foundation for global nuclear security and strengthen the tools we need to combat nuclear terrorism globally. Although this action took more than a decade and does not include military materials, this step shows that the international community can make progress and cooperate to build a safer world.
“With entry into force, the amended treaty can and should play an important role to expand the foundation for sustaining long-term cooperation, attention and accountability beyond the Summit.”
For more information on how the CPPNM contributes to long-term sustainability of nuclear security, see Jonathan Herbach and Samantha Pitts-Kiefer, “More Work to Do: A Pathway for Future Progress on Strengthening Nuclear Security,” Arms Control Today, October 2015.