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12 September 2005

U.S. Urges Nations To Sign Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Terrorism

State Department identifies 12 counterterror treaties, protocols for action

The United States urges all nations to sign the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

This treaty is designed to strengthen the international legal framework to combat terrorism.  The United Nations General Assembly adopted the convention on April 13. (See related article below .)

A fact sheet issued by the State Department September 9 says the United States is also encouraging all nations to embrace and implement another 12 counter-terrorism conventions and protocols that address issues such as the protection of nuclear material, maritime navigation safety, and the suppression of terrorist financial networks.

For more information, see The United Nations at 60.

Following is the text of the department’s fact sheet:

(begin fact sheet)

Fact Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of International Organization Affairs
September 9, 2005

U.S. PRIORITIES AT THE UNITED NATIONS
60Th GENERAL ASSEMBLY:

Counterterrorism

The United States works closely in many international arenas to improve partnerships and capacities for fighting terrorism. A key element in the U.S. strategy has been securing meaningful Security Council action. The United States has led efforts in the Council to pass resolutions that provide both a framework and binding legal requirements for international cooperation and action by all Member States to prevent terrorism.

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

In February 2005, President Bush and President Putin called for the early adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which the General Assembly adopted earlier this year. This is the first counterterrorism convention adopted by the General Assembly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Convention strengthens the international legal framework to combat terrorism. The United States urges all nations to sign the Convention.

Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

The United States strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and urges the General Assembly to adopt a Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism. A clear, strong Convention on terrorism will bolster common efforts to preserve peace and security. It is time for all UN Member States to unequivocally outlaw acts of international terrorism. For too many years, the General Assembly has been unable to finalize this important treaty. It is time to reach agreement.

The United States encourages all nations to become party to the 12 counterterrorism conventions and protocols in force that were negotiated under the auspices of the UN and its affiliated agencies, and urges all parties to fully implement them. The United States has signed and ratified these twelve conventions:

Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft

Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft

Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, Including Diplomatic Agents

International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material

Protocol on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation

Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation

Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf

Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection

International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings

International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism

(end fact sheet)



U.N. General Assembly Adopts Nuclear Terrorism Treaty

United States hails act as important in global fight against terror

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The General Assembly April 13 adopted by consensus the text of the International Treaty for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which makes it a crime for terrorists to possess or threaten to use nuclear weapons.

The treaty will be open for signature September 14, the start of the U.N. 60th Anniversary Summit, and will go into effect after 22 nations have ratified it.

The convention "will provide a legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of those who commit terrorist acts involving radioactive material or a nuclear device, " according to Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Stuart Holliday.

"We are pleased that member states demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and worked together in this multilateral setting to conclude the convention and thereby send an undeniably clear signal that the international community will not tolerate those who threaten or commit terrorist acts involving radioactive material or nuclear devices," Holliday said.

"By its action today, the General Assembly has shown that it can, when it has the political will, play an important role in the global fight against terrorism," he added.

Holliday also said that the treaty is the first counterterrorism convention adopted by the General Assembly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the adoption of the convention "is a vital step forward in multilateral efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.  The convention will help prevent terrorist groups from gaining access to the most lethal weapons known to humanity.  It will also strengthen the international legal framework against terrorism, which includes 12 existing universal conventions and protocols."

The secretary-general also urged the assembly to press ahead and finalize the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism, work on which has stalled over the definition of terrorism.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States welcomes the General Assembly’s unanimous adoption of the Nuclear Terrorism Convention.

"Along with the 12 existing international terrorism conventions and protocols, the Nuclear Terrorism Convention will strengthen the international legal framework to combat terrorism.  The convention will provide a legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of those who commit terrorist acts involving radioactive material or a nuclear device," Boucher said in a prepared statement.

He said that President Bush and Russian President Putin called for early adoption of this convention in their February 24 joint statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation.

"The United States is pleased that United Nations [members] have demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and worked together in a multilateral setting to conclude the Nuclear Terrorism Convention," he said.

The resolution, which was adopted by the 191-nation General Assembly and contains the text of the convention, calls on all nations to sign and ratify the convention.

The treaty makes it a crime for any individual or group to possess or use radioactive material or a radioactive device with the intention to cause death or serious bodily injury or substantial damage to property or the environment.  It also makes it a crime to damage a nuclear facility.

Nations who are parties to the convention are required to change their national laws to make those acts "punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of these offenses."  All signatures must also make clear that such terrorist acts cannot be justified "by considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, religious or other similar nature."

The convention says that, in the aftermath of an event, the radioactive material is to be handled in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

A General Assembly ad hoc committee began drafting the convention in 1996 at the urging of Russia.


Created: 13 Apr 2005 Updated: 13 Apr 2005