Role of the IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is assigned specific functions under the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which were approved by its Board of Governors in 2007. In particular, pursuant to Article 18.5, the IAEA is encouraged to provide assistance to the maximum extent possible when, for the purposes of paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of that Article, the State Party in possession of the radioactive material, device or nuclear facility so requests. Further to Article 18.6 of the Convention, “the States Parties involved in the disposition or retention of the radioactive material, device or nuclear facility pursuant to the present article shall inform the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency of the manner in which such an item was disposed of or retained. The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency shall transmit the information to the other States Parties”.

Other provisions of ICSANT are also of particular relevance to the IAEA. These include:

  • Article 7.1(b), pursuant to which States Parties are obliged to inform, where appropriate, international organizations, including the IAEA, “in respect of the commission of the offences set forth in Article 2 as well as preparations to commit such offences about which it has learned.”
  • Article 7.2, which provides that, “[i]f States Parties provide information to international organizations in confidence, steps shall be taken to ensure that the confidentiality of such information is protected.”
  • Article 7.4, further to which the UN Secretary-General is obliged to communicate information regarding the States Parties’ competent authorities and liaison points to all States Parties and to the IAEA.
  • Article 8, which provides that “[f]or purposes of preventing offences under this Convention, States Parties shall make every effort to adopt appropriate measures to ensure the protection of radioactive material, taking into account relevant recommendations and functions of the International Atomic Energy Agency”.
  • Article 18.1, further providing that “[u]pon seizing or otherwise taking control of radioactive material, devices or nuclear facilities, following the commission of an offence…, the State Party in possession of such items shall

(a) take steps to render harmless the radioactive material, device or nuclear facility;

(b) ensure that any nuclear material is held in accordance with applicable International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards; and

(c) have regard to physical protection recommendations and health and safety standards published by the International Atomic Energy Agency”. 

  • Article 18.4, pursuant to which “radioactive material, devices or nuclear facilities do not belong to any of the States Parties or to a national or resident of a State Party or was not stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained from the territory of a State Party, or if no State is willing to receive such items..., a separate decision concerning its disposition taken after consultations between the States concerned and any relevant international organizations” including the IAEA.