For Immediate Release
June 3 , 2015
Contact: Deepika (Dee) Choudhary 703-434-0951, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congress Passes Critical Anti-Nuclear Terror Legislation with Today’s Surveillance Reform Bill
WASHINGTON – The Senate on Tuesday passed the USA Freedom Act, which includes a critically important measure that will help prevent nuclear terrorism.
The legislation includes language to implement requirements of two international treaties that enhance global efforts to counter nuclear terrorism. Failure to pass these implementing pieces of legislation has been blocking full ratification of these important treaties for years.
The two treaties, the 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and the 2005 International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), set standards on protecting materials that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. They also include requirements for punishing acts of nuclear terrorism.
The risk from terrorists or other criminals getting their hands on the materials to make a nuclear bomb is a global threat that requires global solutions. While the United States already has strong measures to prevent and prosecute nuclear terrorism, the agreements will help to ensure that other countries do the same.
Nuclear security experts from the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), a coalition of 80 organizations dedicated to preventing nuclear terrorism, praised this step forward.
“These rules need to be universal to work, but other countries have had a ready excuse for inaction in the absence of U.S. leadership” said FMWG Co-Chair Miles Pomper. “More than a dozen countries still need to ratify the important 2005 CPPNM amendment for it to enter into force.”
“It took a decade, but Congress has finally passed legislation vital to global efforts to prevent and punish nuclear terrorism. This measure will make us safer by helping to secure material that could be used to make a nuclear bomb and by punishing nuclear terrorists,” said Angela Canterbury of the Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
Implementing legislation has been mired for years over death penalty and wiretapping provisions that experts agree have little relevance to the legislation’s substance and outcomes.
To overcome deadlock in the Senate, the House Judiciary Committee attached the implementing language to the USA Freedom Act, which passed in the House on May 14 by a vote of 338-88.
“The leadership of the House Judiciary Committee deserves enormous credit for its bipartisan persistence in support of the treaties and passage of implementing legislation,” according to Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association.
Congress Finally Passes Important Legislation to Prevent and Counter Nuclear Terrorism, by Kingston Reif (June 2, 2015)
Fact Sheet from the Center on Arms Control and Non-Proliferation (June 13, 2013)
US Failure to Ratify Key Nuclear Security Conventions, by Matthew Bunn (March 12, 2014)