The Amended CPPNM: A Vehicle for Renewed Focus on Nuclear Security
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 the linchpin to building a strong, effective, and sustainable global nuclear security architecture.
The Amended CPPNM and the Index
To measure progress toward universalization and countries’ implementation of the amended CPPNM, the 2020 NTI Index includes three questions:
- Has the country ratified the amended CPPNM?
- Does it have a national authority to implement the original or the amended CPPNM?
- Has it translated the obligations contained in the amended CPPNM into its national regulatory framework?
The results show there is still significant work needed to bolster this element of the international architecture by universalizing the amended CPPNM and fully implementing its obligations.
- Only 110 of the 176 countries included in the Index have ratified the amended CPPNM as of March 1, 2020, when research for the 2020 NTI Index closed. This means there are still major gaps in the international legal framework for nuclear security. Of the 66 countries that have not ratified the amended CPPNM, 62 do not have materials.
- Of the 110 countries, 106 have an implementation authority for the treaty.
- Of the 49 countries with nuclear materials and/or nuclear facilities, 40 have translated the amended CPPNM obligations into a national framework. Countries without materials or facilities do not receive a score for this question.
The Index also gives credit to countries that have submitted information on laws and regulations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as required by article 14.1 of the treaty.
Of the 49 countries with nuclear materials and/or nuclear facilities, 27 have submitted information under article 14.1. Although countries without materials do not receive a score for this question in the NTI Index, a review of available data from the IAEA as of June 15, 2020, shows that of 110 states parties to the amended CPPNM—with and without materials—only 47 have submitted information under article 14.1, even though doing so is a legal obligation under the treaty. All states parties should take this action.
Bolstering the Treaty
The amended CPPNM-related findings and the significant decrease in overall nuclear security improvements highlighted by the 2020 NTI Index reinforce the need to revive political attention on nuclear security. The amended CPPNM review conference in 2021—and any future reviews—offer important opportunities to do so. Review conferences create checkpoints for international dialogue on nuclear security, including lessons learned, best practices, ideas for continuous improvement, and trends that affect how countries implement the treaty.
If held regularly, future review conferences for the amended CPPNM can foster accountability and sustained progress over time. As it stands now, the amendment requires only one review conference in 2021, five years after the amendment’s entry into force in 2016. At the 2021 conference, countries should agree to hold regular review conferences, with each review conference setting the next date, as a way to enable a more sustainable treaty regime that can adapt as threats, technology, and best practices evolve.
For more analysis on the importance of the amended CPPNM review conferences, see:
- Samantha Neakrase, Strengthening Nuclear Security with a Sustainable CPPNM Regime: An Ambitious Review of the Amended CPPNM, paper prepared for the 2020 IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Security (January 2020).
- Samantha Neakrease, Strengthening Nuclear Security with a Sustainable CPPNM Regime, June 2019, Arms Control Today.
 Sweden submitted its laws and regulations after research for the 2020 NTI Index closed and therefore does not receive credit for doing so in this edition. It will receive credit for doing so in the next edition.
 Five additional countries have submitted laws and regulations under the original CPPNM.
Photo Credit: IAEA / flickr