Statement by Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka At the International Conference on Nuclear Security 01st - 05th July, Vienna

Mr. President,

Let me begin by congratulating H.E. Janos  Martonyi on his effective leadership to this International Conference on Nuclear Security. My delegation welcomes the convening of the conference and the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration yesterday.

Mr. President,  

Relevant to the subject under discussion, my delegation would like to higlight a few points to the attention of this conference.  

First, what the ongoing deiberations as well as previous international and regional processes have brought to focus is the fact that nuclear security is an issue which does not exist in isolation, but is one which is inter-related, and inter-connected with other areas of nuclear activity. It is but one component of a larger concept of the use of nuclear energy or nuclear applications. The Ministerial Declaration that was adopted yesterday captures this nexus clearly, to some extent.  

My delegation is of the view that this aspect of inter-relatedness and inter-connectedness, however, becomes all the more important in the context of nuclear disarmament, on which progress within the multilateral fora has been halting for quite long time. To advance nuclear security more effectively, an urgent priority remains to make progress in the area of nuclear disarmament. Re-energizing the agenda for nuclear non-proliferation and nucelar disarmament is a call that we can not fail to fulfill any longer.  

Second, the Ministerial Declaration makes clear that primary responsbiltiy for ensuring nuclear security, as is the case with nuclear safety, lies with national governments. However, the question of resources, knowhow and expertise, and capacity is pertinent. It is here that the role of international cooperation becomes vital.  Recognizing the nexus between nuclear security and capacity building, it is imperative that assistance be extended to States, at their request, to put in place arrangements at the national level for effectively advancing nuclear security. A nuclear security infrastructure, linking nuclear safety regime and peaceful uses framework at the national level, is ptivotal to an environment which leaves no room for vulnerabilties to be exploited by persons or groups with malicious intent.

An effective national security infrastructure would include, among others, adherence to the international legal frameworks such as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment as well as the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Introduction of detection and nuclear forensic techniques, capacity building including education and training, and the promotion of research and development, complemented by enhanced international coordination and cooperation, the sharing of technical knowhow, and response preparedness, are ingredients of an effective nuclear security culture. It is important to emphasise in this regard that the effectiveness of nuclear security does not depend on one single factor but on a combination of factors, which are not mutually exclusive. Success of some measures may also depend on their relationship to other factors which are not within the same basket.  For instance, the effectiveness of measures taken under the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism could be further strengthened by simultaneously taking measures under an equally important legal framework, International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, which denies financial support for those acting with malicious intent.

Third, in successfully advancing nuclear security, the importance of collective efforts by a multitude of stake-holders needs to be emphasized. States, IAEA, the civil society and the media have a role to play in preventing threats to nuclear security and in helping to detect trafficking of nuclear material and deter activities that may be pursued with malicious intent. However, in doing so, we should not be tempted to approach nuclear security from the perspective of nuclear terrorism alone. While countering nuclear terrorism forms part of it, nuclear security, as part of an overarching national security concept, is broader than just contering nuclear terrorism. If we are not imaginative to address this aspect today, it is possible that we may at some point be compelled to revisit our approach towards nuclear security, in view of circumstances that may evolve in the future. Our approach should not be restrictive, but permissive within the mandate of the organization within which we seek to address this issue. It is important to be proactive therefore in our prevention strategies.

Fourth, nuclear security can not be advanced more effectively without protecting sensitive information. Seeking access to such information, incuding by breaching cyber security, is a challenge that requires innovative and pragmatic responses. It is important to note in this regard that the focus now is shifting from conventional design-specific information to strategy-specific information.   

Fifth, we now have a declaration which makes clear, our intent to move forward. What is more important, however, in our view, is to identify medium and long term priorities for international nuclear security cooperation and to consider how best the ongoing approaches and strategies may be improved to address future challenges more effectively. At the national level we should emphasize the need for enhanced nuclear security infrastructure while at the international level, we should continue with the ongoing efforts for improving the nuclear security culture and cooperation framework.

Finally, nuclear security, nuclear safety and international cooperation should go hand in hand to achieve the desired results.  While nuclear security and safety, as emphasised earlier, are a matter, primarily,  of national responsibility, international cooperation is a tool which helps mould that responsibility in a concept of “each for all.” 

Mr. President,

Sri Lanka regularly participates in, and contributes to, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. We also actively pursue the Non-proliferation Security Initiative. Currently, the legislation relating to use of nuclear energy and nuclear applications is being revised. An important feature of the draft legislative Act is provision for protection of nuclear security.

Thank you, Mr. President

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