UN official urges all States to sign on to treaty against nuclear terrorism

Larry Johnson

18 June 2007 – Urging all Member States to become a party to a new international treaty which aims to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism, bring perpetrators to justice and promote cooperation among countries, a senior United Nations official today called for more vigilance and greater cooperation in the fight against the scourge.

“Advances in technology continue to outpace the efforts undertaken to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction,” said Larry Johnson, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, he told a panel of nuclear terrorism experts held at UN Headquarters in New York.

“There is an urgent need to enhance international cooperation between States for devising and adopting effective and practical measures for the prevention of acts of terrorism and for the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators.”

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism enters into force on 7 July, almost two years after it was adopted by Member States, after Bangladesh earlier this month became the 22nd country to ratify or accede to it.

Originally proposed by Russia, the Convention was adopted on 13 April 2005, and outlaws specific and concrete acts of nuclear terrorism. It is intended to protect against attacks on a range of targets, including nuclear power plants and reactors. It is also applicable to threats and attempts to commit such crimes.

The Convention, which has been signed by 115 countries, promotes cooperation among countries through the sharing of information and the providing of assistance for investigations and extraditions.

Mr. Johnson stressed today that international terrorism remains an issue for all nations, whether rich or poor, large or small, and he reminded States that “terrorists must never be allowed to create a pretext in order to justify their actions.”

Walter Gehr, Project Coordinator in the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told the panel that it is not enough to become a party to the new convention and other international instruments – States must be willing to properly implement the provisions in their national legislation.

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