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The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material
INFCIRC/274/Rev.1 [314 kb]
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- The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material was opened for signature on 3
March 1980, pursuant to Article 18.1 thereof and following the conclusion of negotiations on 28 October 1979.
- The texts of the Convention and of
Final Act of the Meeting of Governmental Representatives to
Drafting of the Convention are reproduced in this document for
the information of all Member States.
- Member States will be informed by an addendum to this
document of the entry into force of the
Convention pursuant to Article 19.1 thereof.
The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear
THE STATES PARTIES TO THIS CONVENTION,
RECOGNIZING the right of all States to develop and apply nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes and
their legitimate interests in the potential benefits to be
derived from the
peaceful application of nuclear energy,
CONVINCED of the need for facilitating international co-operation
in the peaceful application of nuclear
DESIRING to avert the potential dangers posed by the unlawful
taking and use of nuclear material,
CONVINCED that offences relating to nuclear material are a
matter of grave concern and that there is an urgent need to
adopt appropriate and effective measures to ensure the
prevention, detection and punishment of such offences,
AWARE OF THE NEED FOR international co-operation to establish,
in conformity with the national law of each State Party and
with this Convention, effective measures for the physical
protection of nuclear material,
CONVINCED that this Convention should facilitate the safe
transfer of nuclear material,
STRESSING also the importance of the physical protection of
nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport,
RECOGNIZING the importance of effective physical protection of
nuclear material used for military purposes, and understanding
that such material is and will continue to be accorded
stringent physical protection,
HAVE AGREED as follows:
For the purposes of this Convention:
- "nuclear material" means plutonium except that with
isotopic concentration exceeding 80% in plutonium-238;
uranium-233; uranium enriched in the isotope 235 or 233;
uranium containing the mixture of isotopes as occurring in
nature other than in the form of ore or ore-residue; any
material containing one or more of the foregoing;
- "uranium enriched in the isotope 235 or 233" means
uranium containing the isotope 235 or 233 or both in an amount
such that the abundance ratio of the sum of these isotopes to
the isotope 238 is greater than the ratio of the isotope 235
to the isotope 238 occurring in nature;
- "international nuclear transport" means the carriage of
a consignment of nuclear material by any means of transportation
intended to go beyond the territory of the State where the
shipment originates beginning with the departure from a
facility of the shipper in that State and ending with the
arrival at a facility of the receiver within the State of
- This Convention shall apply to nuclear material used for
peaceful purposes while in international nuclear transport.
- With the exception of articles 3 and 4 and paragraph 3 of
article 5, this Convention shall also apply to nuclear
material used for peaceful purposes while in domestic use,
storage and transport.
- Apart from the commitments expressly undertaken by States
Parties in the articles covered by paragraph 2 with respect to
nuclear material used for peaceful purposes while in domestic
use, storage and transport, nothing in this Convention shall
be interpreted as affecting the sovereign rights of a State
regarding the domestic use, storage and transport of such
Each State Party shall take appropriate steps within the
framework of its national law and consistent with
international law to ensure as far as practicable that, during
international nuclear transport, nuclear material within its
territory, or on board a ship or aircraft under its
jurisdiction insofar as such ship or aircraft is engaged in
the transport to or from that State, is protected at the
levels described in Annex I.
- Each State Party shall not export or authorize the export of
nuclear material unless the State Party has received
assurances that such material will be protected during the
international nuclear transport at the levels described in
- Each State Party shall not import or authorize the import of
nuclear material from a State not party to this Convention
unless the State Party has received assurances that such
material will during the international nuclear transport be
protected at the levels described in Annex I.
- A State Party shall not allow the transit of its territory by
land or internal waterways or through its airports or seaports
of nuclear material between States that are not parties to
this Convention unless the State Party has received assurances
as far as practicable that this nuclear material will be
protected during international nuclear transport at the levels
described in Annex I.
- Each State Party shall apply within the framework of its
national law the levels of physical protection described in
Annex I to nuclear material being transported from a part of
that State to another part of the same State through
international waters or airspace.
- The State Party responsible for receiving assurances that the
nuclear material will be protected at the levels described in
Annex I according to paragraphs 1 to 3 shall identify and
inform in advance States which the nuclear material is
expected to transit by land or internal waterways, or whose
airports or seaports it is expected to enter.
- The responsibility for obtaining assurances referred to in
paragraph 1 may be transferred, by mutual agreement, to the
State Party involved in the transport as the importing State.
- Nothing in this article shall be interpreted as in any way
affecting the territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction of a
State, including that over its airspace and territorial sea.
- States Parties shall identify and make known to each other
directly or through the International Atomic Energy Agency
their central authority and point of contact having
responsibility for physical protection of nuclear material and
for co-ordinating recovery and response operations in the
event of any unauthorized removal, use or alteration of
nuclear material or in the event of credible threat thereof.
- In the case of theft, robbery or any other unlawful taking of
nuclear material or of credible threat thereof, States Parties
shall, in accordance with their national law, provide
co-operation and assistance to the maximum feasible extent in the
recovery and protection of such material to any State that so
requests. In particular:
- a State Party shall take appropriate steps to inform as
soon as possible other States, which appear to it to be
concerned, of any theft, robbery or other unlawful taking of
nuclear material or credible threat thereof and to inform,
where appropriate, international organizations;
- as appropriate, the States Parties concerned shall
exchange information with each other or international
organizations with a view to protecting threatened nuclear
material, verifying the integrity of the shipping container,
or recovering unlawfully taken nuclear material and shall:
- co-ordinate their efforts through diplomatic and other
- render assistance; if requested;
- ensure the return of nuclear material stolen or
missing as a consequence of the above-mentioned events.
The means of implementation of this co-operation shall be
determined by the States Parties concerned.
- States Parties shall co-operate and consult as appropriate,
with each other directly or through international
organizations, with a view to obtaining guidance on the
design, maintenance and improvement of systems of physical
protection of nuclear material in international transport.
- States Parties shall take appropriate measures consistent
with their national law to protect the confidentiality of any
information which they receive in confidence by virtue of the
provisions of this Convention form another State Party or
through participation in an activity carried out for the
implementation of this Convention. If States Parties provide
information to international organizations in confidence,
steps shall be taken to ensure that the confidentiality of
such information is protected.
- States Parties shall not be required by this Convention to
provide any information which they are not permitted to
communicate pursuant to national law or which would jeopardize
the security of the State concerned or the physical protection
of nuclear material.
- The intentional commission of:
- an act without lawful authority which constitutes the
receipt, possession, use, transfer, alteration, disposal or
dispersal of nuclear material and which causes or is likely to
cause death or serious injury to any person or substantial
damage to property;
- a theft or robbery of nuclear material;
- an embezzlement or fraudulent obtaining of nuclear
- an act constituting a demand for nuclear material by
threat or use of force or by any other form of intimidation;
- a threat:
- to use nuclear material to cause death or serious injury
to any person or substantial property damage, or
- to commit an offence described in sub-paragraph (b) in
order to compel a natural or legal person, international
organization or State to do or to refrain from doing any act;
- an attempt to commit any offence described in paragraphs
(a), (b) or (c); and
- an act which constitutes participation in any offence
described in paragraphs (a) to (f)
shall be made a punishable offence by each State Party under its
- Each State Party shall make the offences described in this
article punishable by appropriate penalties which take into
account their grave nature.
- Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary
to establish its jurisdiction over the offences set forth in
article 7 in the following cases;
- when the offence is committed in the territory of that
State or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;
- when the alleged offender is a national of that State.
- Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be
necessary to establish its jurisdiction over these offences in
cases where the alleged offender is presented in its territory
and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 11 to any of
the States mentioned in paragraph 1.
- This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction
exercised in accordance with national law.
- In addition to the States Parties mentioned in paragraphs 1
and 2, each State Party may, consistent with international law,
establish its jurisdiction over the offences set forth in
article 7 when it is involved in international nuclear
transport as the exporting or importing State.
Upon being satisfied that the circumstances so warrant, the
State Party in whose territory the alleged offender is present
shall take appropriate measures, including detention, under
its national law to ensure his presence for the purpose of
prosecution or extradition. Measures taken according to this
article shall be notified without delay to the States required
to establish jurisdiction pursuant to article 8 and, where
appropriate, all other States concerned.
The State Party in whose territory the alleged offender is
present shall, if it does not extradite him, submit, without
exception whatsoever and without undue delay, the case to its
competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, through
proceedings in accordance with the laws of that State.
- The offences in article 7 shall be deemed to be included as
extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing
between States Parties. States Parties undertake to include
those offences as extraditable offences in every future
extradition treaty to be concluded between them.
- If a State Party which makes extradition conditional on the
existence of a treaty receives a request for extradition from
another State Party with which it has no extradition treaty, it
may at its option consider this Convention as the legal basis
for extradition in respect of those offences. Extradition
shall be subject to the other conditions provided by the law
of the requested State.
- States Parties which do not make extradition conditional on
the existence of a treaty shall recognize those offences as
extraditable offences between themselves subject to the
conditions provided by the law of the requested State.
- Each of the offences shall be treated, for the purpose of
extradition between States Parties, as if it had been
committed not only in the place in which it occurred but also
in the territories of the States Parties required to establish
their jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph 1 of article
Any person regarding whom proceedings are being carried out in
connection with any of the offences set forth in article 7
shall be guaranteed fair treatment at all stages of the
- States Parties shall afford one another the greatest measure
of assistance in connection with criminal proceedings brought in
respect of the offences set forth in article 7, including the
supply of evidence at their disposal necessary for the
proceedings. The law of the State requested shall apply in
- The provisions of paragraph 1 shall not affect obligations
under any other treaty, bilateral or multilateral, which
governs or will govern, in whole or in part, mutual assistance
in criminal matters.
- Each State Party shall inform the depositary of its laws and
regulations which give effect to this Convention. The
depositary shall communicate such information periodically to
all States Parties.
- The State Party where an alleged offender is prosecuted
shall, wherever practicable, first communicate the final outcome
of the proceedings to the States directly concerned. The State
Party shall also communicate the final outcome to the depositary
who shall inform all States.
- Where an offence involves nuclear material used for peaceful
purposes in domestic use, storage or transport, and both the
alleged offender and the nuclear material remain in the
territory of the State Party in which the offence was
committed, nothing in this Convention shall be interpreted as
requiring that State Party to provide information concerning
criminal proceedings arising out of such an offence.
The Annexes constitute an integral part of this Convention.
- A conference of States Parties shall be convened by the
depositary of five years after the entry into force of this
Convention to review the implementation of the Convention and
its adequacy as concerns the preamble, the whole of the
operative part and the annexes in the light of the then
- At intervals of not less than five years thereafter, the
majority of States Parties may obtain, by submitting a
proposal to this effect to the depositary, the convening of
further conferences with the same objective.
- In the event of a dispute between two or more States Parties
concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention,
such States Parties shall consult with a view to the
settlement of the dispute by negotiation, or by any other
peaceful means of settling disputes acceptable to all parties
to the dispute.
- Any dispute of this character which cannot be settled in the
manner prescribed in paragraph 1 shall, at the request of any
party to such dispute, be submitted to arbitration or referred
to the International Court of Justice for decision. Where a
dispute is submitted to arbitration, if, within six months
from the date of the request, the parties to the dispute are
unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, a
party may request the President of the International Court of
Justice or the Secretary-General of the United Nations to
appoint one or more arbitrators. In case of conflicting
requests by the parties to the dispute, the request to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations shall have priority.
- Each State Party may at the time of signature, ratification,
acceptance or approval of this Convention or accession thereto
declare that it does not consider itself bound by either or
both of the dispute settlement procedures provided for in
paragraph 2. The other States Parties shall not be bound by a
dispute settlement procedure provided for in paragraph 2, with
respect to a State Party which has made a reservation to that
- Any State Party which has made a reservation in accordance
with paragraph 3 may at any time withdraw that reservation by
notification to the depositary.
- This Convention shall be open for signature by all States at
the Headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in
Vienna and at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New
York from 3 March 1980 until its entry into force.
- This Convention is subject to ratification, acceptance or
approval by the signatory States.
- After its entry into force, this Convention will be open for
accession by all States.
- This Convention shall be open for signature or accession
by international organizations and regional organizations of
an integration or other nature, provided that any such
organization is constituted by sovereign States and has
competence in respect of the negotiation, conclusion and
application of international agreements in matters covered by
- In matters within their competence, such organizations
shall, on their own behalf, exercise the rights and fulfil the
responsibilities which this Convention attributes to States
- When becoming party to this Convention such an
organization shall communicate to the depository a declaration
indicating which States are members thereof and which articles of
this Convention do not apply to it.
- Such an organization shall not hold any vote additional
to those of its Member States.
- Instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or
accession shall be deposited with depositary.
- This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day
following the date of deposit of the twenty-first instrument
of ratification, acceptance or approval with the depositary.
- For each State ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to
the Convention after the date of deposit of the twenty-first
instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval, the
Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after
the deposit by such State of its instrument of ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession.
- Without prejudice to article 16 a State Party may propose
amendments to this Convention. The proposed amendment shall
be submitted to the depositary who shall circulate it
immediately to all States Parties. If a majority of States
Parties request the depositary to convene a conference to
consider the proposed amendments, the depositary shall invite
all States Parties to attend such a conference to being not
sooner than thirty days after the invitations are issued.
Any amendment adopted at the conference by a two-thirds
majority of all States Parties shall be promptly circulated by
the depositary to all States Parties.
- The amendment shall enter into force for each State Party
that deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance or
approval of the amendment on the thirtieth day after the date
on which two thirds of the States Parties have deposited their
instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the
depositary. Thereafter, the amendment shall enter into force
for any other State Party on the day on which that State Party
deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance or
approval of the amendment.
- Any State Party any denounce this Convention by written
notification to the depositary.
- Denunciation shall take effect one hundred and eighty days
following the date on which notification is received by the
The depositary shall promptly notify all States of:
- each signature of this Convention;
- each deposit of an instrument of ratification,
acceptance, approval or accession;
- any reservation or withdrawal in accordance with article
- any communication made by an organization in accordance
with paragraph 4(c) of article 18;
- the entry into force of this Convention;
- the entry into force of any amendment to this
- any denunciation made under article 21.
The original of this Convention, of which the Arabic, Chinese,
English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic,
shall be deposited with the Director General of the International
Atomic Energy Agency who shall send certified copies thereof to
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized, have
signed this Convention, opened for signature at Vienna and at New
York on 3 March 1980.
Levels of Physical Protection to be Applied in
International Transport of Nuclear Materials as Categorized in
- Levels of physical protection for nuclear material during
storage incidental to international nuclear transport include:
- For Category III materials, storage within an area to
which access is controlled;
- For Category II materials, storage within an area under
constant surveillance by guards or electronic devices, surrounded
by a physical barrier with a limited number of points of entry
under appropriate control or any area with an equivalent level of
- For Category I material, storage within a protected area
as defined for Category II above, to which, in addition, access
is restricted to persons whose trustworthiness has been
determined, and which is under surveillance by guards who are in
close communication with appropriate response forces. Specific
measures taken in this context should have as their object the
detection and prevention of any assault, unauthorized access or
unauthorized removal of material.
- Levels of physical protection for nuclear material during
international transport include:
- For Category II and III materials, transportation shall
take place under special precautions including prior arrangements
among sender, receiver, and carrier, and prior agreement between
natural or legal persons subject to the jurisdiction and
regulation of exporting and importing States, specifying time,
place and procedures for transferring transport responsibility;
- For Category I materials, transportation shall take
place under special precautions identified above for
transportation of Category II and III materials, and in addition,
under constant surveillance by escorts and under conditions which
assure close communication with appropriate response forces;
- For natural uranium other than in the form of ore or
ore-residue; transportation protection for quantities exceeding
500 kilograms uranium shall include advance notification of
shipment specifying mode of transport, expected time of arrival
and confirmation of receipt of shipment.
Table: Categorization of Nuclear Material
||2 kg or more
||Less than 2 kg but more than 500 g
||500 g or less but more than 15 g
- uranium enriched to 20% 235U or more
- uranium enriched to 10% 235U but less than 20%
- uranium enriched above natural, but less than 10%
5 kg or more
Less than 5 kg but more than 1 kg
10 kg or more
1 kg or less but more than 15 g
Less than 10 kg but more than 1 kg
10 kg or more
||2 kg or more
||Less than 2 kg but more than 500 g
||500 g or less but more than 15
|4. Irradiated fuel
||Depleted or natural
uranium, thorium or
(less than 10%
a/ All plutonium except that with isotopic
concentration exceeding 80% in plutonium-238.
b/ Material not irradiated in a reactor or material
irradiated in a reactor but with a radiation level equal to or
less than 100 rads/hour at one metre unshielded.
c/ Quantities not falling in Category III and natural
uranium should be protected in accordance with prudent management
d/ Although this level of protection is recommended,
it would be open to States, upon evaluation of the specific
circumstances, to assign a different category of physical
e/Other fuel which by virtue of its original fissile
material content is classified as Category I and II before
irradiation may be reduced one category level while the radiation
level from the fuel exceeds 100 rads/hour at one metre
Meeting of Governmental Representatives to Consider the
Drafting of a Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear
- The Meeting of Governmental Representatives to Consider the
Drafting of a Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear
Material met in Vienna at the Headquarters of the International
Atomic Energy Agency from 31 October to 10 November 1977, from 10
to 20 April 1978, from 5 to 16 February and from 15 to 26 October
1979. Informal consultations between Governmental
Representatives took place from 4 to 7 September 1978 and from 24
to 25 September 1979.
- Representatives of 58 States and one organization
participated, namely, representatives of:
|Algeria||Korea, Republic of
|Argentina||Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
|German Democratic Republic||Switzerland
|Germany, Federal Republic of||Tunisia
|Guatemala||Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
|Holy See||United Arab Emirates
||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|India||United States of America
|Italy||European Atomic Energy Community
- The following States and international organizations
participated as observers:
Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development
- The Meeting elected Ambassador D.L. Siazon Jr. (Philippines)
as Chairman. For the meetings in April 1978 and February 1979
Mr. R.A. Estrada-Oyuela (Argentina) was elected Chairman.
- The Meetings elected as Vice-Chairmen:
Mr. K. Willuhn of the German Democratic Republic, who at the
meeting in February 1979 was succeeded by Mr. H. Rabold of the
German Democratic Republic;
Mr. R.J.S. Harry, Netherlands, who at the meeting of October
1979 was succeeded by Mr. G. Dahlhoff of the Federal Republic of
Mr. R.A. Estrada-Oyuela, Argentina, who at the meeting of
October 1979 was succeeded by Mr. L.A. Olivieri of Argentina.
Mr. L.W. Herron (Australia) was elected Rapporteur. For the
meeting in October 1979 Mr. N.R. Smith (Australia) was elected
- Secretariat services were provided by the International
Atomic Energy Agency. The Director General of the Agency was
represented by the Director of the Legal Division of the Agency,
Mr. D.M. Edwards and, in succession to him, Mr. L.W. Herron.
- The Meeting set up the following groups:
- Working Group on Technical Issues
Chairman: Mr. R.J.S. Harry, Netherlands
- Working Group on Legal Issues
Chairman: Mr. R.A. Estrada-Oyuela, Argentina
- Working Group on Scope of Convention
Chairman: Mr. K. Willuhn, German Democratic Republic
- Drafting Committee
Chairman: Mr. De Castro Neves, Brazil
Members: Representatives of Australia, Brazil, Canada,
Chile, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Federal Republic of
Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Qatar, Tunisia, Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics, United States of America.
- The Meeting had before it the following documents:
- Draft Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear
Materials, Facilities and Transports, as contained in document
- IAEA document INFCIRC/225/Rev.1: The Physical
Protection of Nuclear Material;
- IAEA document INFCIRC/254: Communications Received from
Certain Member States regarding Guidelines for the Export of
Nuclear Material, Equipment or Technology.
- The Meeting completed consideration of a Convention, the text
of which is attached as Annex I[*].
reservations with regard to particular provisions in the text.
These are recorded in the documents and in the Daily Reports of
the Meeting. It was agreed that the text will be referred by
delegations to their authorities for consideration.
- The Meeting recommended that the text of the Convention be
transmitted for information to the twenty-third General
Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- The Convention will, in accordance with its terms, be opened
for signature from 3 March 1980 at the Headquarters of the
International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and at the
Headquarters of the United Nations in New York.
Vienna, 26 October 1979
D.L. Siazon Jr.
 The text of the Convention was
transmitted to the twenty-third (1979) regular session of the
General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Final Act, as document
[*] Since the Convention has been opened for
signature it is not attached here as Annex I; it is reproduced as
the first part of this document.