In a significant move towards enhancing global nuclear safety and security, Belarus, Egypt, and Zimbabwe made solemn commitments to the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology at the annual Treaty Event, held in conjunction with the 67th regular session of the IAEA General Conference.
Belarus ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (A/CPPNM), while Egypt ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). Zimbabwe, on the other hand, presented an impressive display of commitment by delivering six crucial instruments simultaneously.
Among these instruments were accedences to the CNS, the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, the Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention, as well as the Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage.
Additionally, instruments of acceptance for the Amendment to the CPPNM and of the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Atomic Energy Agency were deposited.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi emphasized the importance of these commitments, highlighting the need for clarity and certainty in nuclear activities. He underscored the necessity of adhering to legal norms that facilitate universalization, particularly in a period where nuclear concepts face significant challenges.
Belarus, represented by Andrei Dapkiunas, Permanent Representative to the IAEA, ratified the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. This convention establishes legal obligations regarding the protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes during international transport.
It also addresses the criminalization of specific offenses involving nuclear material and encourages international cooperation in cases of theft or unlawful acquisition of nuclear material.
Egypt, represented by Mohamed ElMolla, Permanent Representative to the IAEA, ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). The CNS aims to ensure that parties operating land-based civil nuclear power plants maintain a high level of safety.
It achieves this by establishing fundamental safety principles subscribed to by participating states. The convention further mandates parties to submit reports on their obligations for 'peer review' at meetings held at IAEA Headquarters, a crucial mechanism for safety enforcement.
Representing Zimbabwe, A.T. Chikondo, Secretary for Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation, in the Office of the President and Cabinet, deposited six instrumental commitments. This included accession to the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, which establishes essential standards for financial protection against damage resulting from peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
Furthermore, Zimbabwe acceded to the Convention on Nuclear Safety and accepted the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, along with the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The latter agreement grants the Agency immunity, ensuring its property and assets are safeguarded from legal processes, and enabling the Agency to engage in contracts, acquire and dispose of property, and institute legal proceedings.
Zimbabwe, a nation utilizing nuclear technologies in various sectors including health, agriculture, and research, had previously pledged its commitment to four additional multilateral treaties in nuclear safety and security during the Treaty Event at IAEA's 65th regular session of the General Conference in 2021.
The annual Treaty Event, organized by the IAEA's Office of Legal Affairs in conjunction with the General Conference, serves as a platform to promote universal adherence to vital multilateral treaties, for which the IAEA Director General is depositary. It offers Member States the opportunity to deposit instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.