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Arms Control and International Security: Passage of Implementing Legislation for Nuclear Security Treaties

This week, President Obama signed into law implementing legislation for treaties that represent legal cornerstones of the global nuclear security architecture, the strengthening of which is a key goal of the Nuclear Security Summits. This legislation will also enhance protections against threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

The legislation amends the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), and two Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA). The Department of State is now preparing the instruments of ratification of these important treaties for the President’s signature.

I want to personally thank the U.S. Congress, particularly the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, for their efforts on this critically important legislation. It is a laudable example of the good we can accomplish when two branches of government and two parties come together to strengthen our nation’s security. It is also yet another indication that the United States is committed on a bipartisan basis to eliminating the greatest threat to global security: nuclear terrorism.

The CPPNM amendment establishes new international norms for the physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities, including protection from sabotage. It also provides for expanded cooperation among state parties and defines new criminal offenses that must be made punishable by state parties under their domestic law. Once our national ratification actions are completed, the United States will work with other countries to secure the 16 additional ratifications that are needed in order for the amendment to enter into force with the goal of achieving this by the end of the year.

The ICSANT provides a specific legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of those who commit terrorist acts involving radioactive material or a nuclear device, or any device that may emit radiation or disperse radioactive material.

The SUA Protocols establish the first international treaty framework for criminalizing certain terrorist acts, including using a ship or fixed platform in a terrorist activity, transporting weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems and related materials, and transporting terrorist fugitives.

U.S. ratification of these treaties will honor U.S. pledges made at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit and at the Proliferation Security Initiative 10th Anniversary Meeting in 2013. We call on all countries who share our commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism to join and fully implement these treaties.