Programme for Preventing and Combatting Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Material

20 April 1996

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[Summit Contents]

Illicit trafficking in nuclear material (1) continues to pose a global proliferation risk and a potential danger to public health and safety. We have recognized the importance of this issue at our meetings in Naples and Halifax. The criminal diversion of nuclear material could assist states or terrorist groups to bypass the carefully crafted controls of the international nuclear non- proliferation regime and permit them to construct or otherwise acquire a nuclear or radiological weapon. The majority of cases, so far, have involved only small amounts of fissile material or material of little use for weapons purposes, and many apprehended nuclear traffickers have been swindlers or petty thieves. Nevertheless, cases of illicit nuclear trafficking continue to occur. Accordingly, we have concluded that increased cooperation among our governments to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear material will contribute to increased international security and public safety, and to achievement of global non-proliferation objectives.

International efforts to suppress illicit trafficking in nuclear material should address several fundamental aspects of the problem:

In addition, nuclear material released by the dismantling of nuclear weapons and no longer required for defence purposes must be safely, affordably, and effectively stored, protected and controlled, until it can be used for non-explosive purposes or safely and permanently disposed of. This material must also be placed under international safeguards as soon as it is practicable to do so.

The international community's response to these challenges should draw upon and further reinforce the existing instruments and organizations of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. These include universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Principles and Objectives agreed at the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, and to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, as well as application of the recommendations on physical protection made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Cooperation within the framework of the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group is important in the fight against illicit trafficking.

The storage and control of nuclear material is, first and foremost, a national responsibility but the international community should support national efforts by providing coordinated assistance, where needed, to ensure that all nuclear material is safely and securely stored and accurately and effectively controlled and accounted for. Cooperative assistance involving the IAEA, the European Union, or other arrangements should be maintained and adequately funded.

In order to strengthen our collective response to illicit trafficking in nuclear material we will:


1. As defined by Article XX of the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Back to text.
Source: Released at the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit, April 20, 1996.



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