Putin Asks Duma to Pass Amendment to Convention on Physical proTection of Nuclear Material

The Kremlin press service reported on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the State Duma to pass the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material that was adopted unanimously at the Conference to Consider and Adopt Proposed Amendments to the Convention in Vienna on July 8, 2005.

President Putin appointed Sergey Kislyak, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as his official representative to both chambers of the Federal Assembly during discussion of the amendment.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material has been the fundamental international treaty regulating the security of nuclear materials since October 26, 1979.

One of the virtues of the Convention, which is ranked among the most important counter-terrorist conventions and protocols, is its provisions on liability for wrongful acts committed with nuclear materials and on delivering individuals who commit such acts to a court of competent jurisdiction.

The amendment was adopted to expand the system of physical protection and enhance law enforcement in the light of new challenges and threats, and provides for considerable strengthening of the nuclear safety regime and counteracting the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The Convention's reach is broadened in the newly revised version of Article 2. After the amendment comes into force, the physical protection regime, which previously applied only to nuclear material being shipped internationally, will also cover nuclear material and nuclear facilities within the participating state.

The provisions of the newly revised Article 5 of the Convention improve the mechanisms for cooperation among participating states to ensure physical protection of nuclear material, prevent theft and sabotage against nuclear facilities, and eliminate damage caused by such acts. Moreover, the role of the IAEA has been enhanced as an integrated coordination centre in the event of a nuclear threat.

To ensure trust and cooperation, the newly revised version of Clause 1 of Article 6 of the Convention bans the disclosure of any confidential information to third parties without the consent of the participating state providing the information.

The new Article 2A gives IAEA recommendations for establishing an official system of physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities. Several of these recommendations are binding in nature. According to Clause 2 of this Article, every participating state must create and maintain the legislative and regulatory framework needed to manage physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities, as well as establish or appoint a competent body to bear responsibility for implementing this legislative and regulatory framework.

The amendment also expands the list of punishable violations stipulated by Article 7 of the Convention, including smuggling of nuclear material, acts of sabotage against nuclear facilities, and the organisation, aiding and abetting of any of the violations specified in Article 7 of the Convention.

An important innovation is Article A11 of the Convention, which prohibits the justification of nuclear safety violations for political reasons.
Moreover, to prevent the creation of legal precedents for using the Convention to justify the use of force against civil nuclear facilities, Clause 4 of Article 2 of the Convention includes wording that forbids interpreting the Convention as allowing the use of force or the threat of the use of force against nuclear material or nuclear facilities that are used for peaceful purposes.
At the same time, the new Article 13A introduces a separate provision stating that the Convention does not prevent the transfer of technology for peaceful purposes to enhance the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities.
The amendment also touches upon the subject of international peace and safety, and is eligible for adoption as federal law under Article 20, Clause 1, sub-clause A of the Federal Law "On International Treaties of the Russian Federation."