Nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to our global peace and security.
A successful attack, no matter where in the world it came, would be catastrophic.
The UN Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) is one of the cornerstones of the international effort to counter this threat. It provides a legal basis for international cooperation in the investigation, prosecution and extradition of those involved in the preparation or execution of terrorist acts involving radioactive material or a nuclear device.
The UK ratified the Convention in September 2009, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining the highest possible international standards in countering the threat from nuclear terrorism.
But it is the crucial element of co-operation that I want like to focus on today. International cooperation to combat nuclear terrorism has been tremendous. The recent Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul once again catalysed the political will and technical expertise necessary to fulfil commitments made in Washington, two years earlier. 53 countries made over 100 new commitments to improving global nuclear security.
Encouragingly, at least 14 countries have ratified the convention since the 2010 Summit and a further 15 announced plans to do so in the 2012 Summit to ratify this convention and/ or the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection on Nuclear Material, another essential element of the global nuclear security architecture.
I recognise there are some challenges in promoting universal adherence to the UN Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
- A perception among some States that they may not have to implement effective controls on nuclear and other radioactive material if they do not possess nuclear weapons or hold only limited quantities of materials for peaceful purposes; and
- A possible lack of awareness within governments of this convention and its requirements and obligations; and a limited capacity and resource to draft, implement or enforce the necessary laws and regulations;
But against these challenges I would like to offer a brief reminder of the significant advantages of adhering to this convention. States that adhere:
- are better able to investigate, prosecute and punish any acts relating to nuclear or radiological terrorism by non-State actors;
- will enhance their national security and public health and safety;
- demonstrate to others, including potential investors that they are a safe and responsible location for activities involving nuclear and other radioactive material;
- comply effectively with their international reporting requirements.
Co-operation, assistance and advice are available to all States who want or need it.
I would highlight Security Council Resolution 1540 in this context, in particular the  Committee of Experts, whose role is to monitor and assist states in adopting and effecting appropriate laws and activity to better prevent proliferation in or through their territory.
The UK will also be focussing on the effective implementation of Resolution 1540 as a priority for our 2013 Chair of the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Looking ahead, the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, complemented by efforts such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, will continue to provide the momentum, political will, co-ordination and expertise, necessary to strengthen nuclear security still further.
I encourage countries, where appropriate to do so, to engage with international nuclear security initiatives and Conventions, and for those that have yet to ratify the UN International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, to do so.