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Adherence to international legal instruments

There is no single international instrument that addresses nuclear security in a comprehensive manner. The legal foundation for nuclear security comprises of international instruments and recognized principles designed to control nuclear material and other radioactive substances. This broad range instruments (many developed under IAEA auspices) provides a framework for using such material safely and securely in ways that protect all States - both those with active nuclear programmes and those conducting only limited nuclear activities.

While responsibility for nuclear security rests entirely with each Member State, a number of States have not adhered to relevant instruments or implemented them effectively through their national legal and regulatory frameworks. This situation leaves gaps in the global system that can be exploited by terrorist or criminal elements.

IAEA and the legal framework

The Agency believes that universal adherence to relevant instruments, harmonization of national legal and regulatory frameworks, and effective application of relevant measures can make a major contribution to a global nuclear security system for combating nuclear terrorism. The IAEA seeks to inform and advise States about the relevant international legal instruments, and encourages adherence to and/or implementation of them.

Legal instruments: a brief overview


Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

Once in force, the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) will make it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear material and facilities in peaceful domestic use and storage, as well as in domestic and international transport. It will also provide for expanded cooperation between States regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences. current status

Code of Conduct and Supplementary Guidance

In the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources (Code of Conduct) and its Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources (Supplementary Guidance), States commit themselves to reinforcing the safety and security of radioactive sources by establishing effective controls, and to protect against, and ensure the timely detection of, the theft, loss or unauthorized use or removal of radioactive sources. The 2006 General Conference urged States to write to the IAEA Director General stating that they fully support and endorse the Agency’s efforts to enhance the safety and security of radioactive sources and are working toward following the guidance contained in the Code of Conduct.

Safeguards Agreements

The requirements for accounting and control of nuclear material and for the establishment of the related systems contained in Safeguards Agreements and their Additional Protocols is a major component in the international nuclear security infrastructure.

Nuclear Terrorism Convention

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (Nuclear Terrorism Convention) was opened for signature on 14 September 2005. It details offences relating to unlawful and intentional possession and use of radioactive material or a radioactive device, and use or damage of nuclear facilities. The Convention entered into force in July 2007.

UN Security Council resolutions 1540 and 1373

United Nations Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004) address, among other things, the threat of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation and call for national, regional and international cooperation to strengthen the global response to these challenges and threats to international security.

Comprehensive list of binding and non-binding legal instruments relating to nuclear security.

| Last update: Thursday, June 20, 2013.