The Draft Convention on Nuclear Terrorism applies to the use or threat to use nuclear material, nuclear fuel, radioactive products or waste, or any other radioactive substances with toxic, explosive or other dangerous properties. It covers the use or threat to use any nuclear installations, nuclear explosive or radiation devices in order to kill or injure persons, damage property or the environment, or to compel persons, States or international organizations to do or to refrain from doing any act. In this category of crimes are the unauthorized receipt through fraud, theft or forcible seizure of any nuclear material, radioactive substances, nuclear installations or nuclear explosive devices belonging to a State party. Demands by threat or use of force, or any other forms of intimidation for the transfer of such material would also be regarded as acts of nuclear terrorism. Important elements of the proposed draft convention were drawn from the 1980 Physical Protection Convention, which is under IAEA auspices and largely deals with the use of nuclear material for peaceful purposes.
A new convention to consider nuclear threats by terrorists would help to fill the gaps in efforts to combat international terrorism. A draft of this convention has been proposed by the Russian Federation, and considered by the Legal Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. The work is centred in an Ad Hoc Committee that was established in December 1996 by a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Committee met in New York from 17-27 February 1998 and considered a number of proposals during a detailed review of the 20-article draft convention submitted by the Russian Federation. The Committee considered whether to elaborate a new convention or a protocol to either the Physical Protection Convention or the 1997 Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Philippe Kirsch (Canada) chairs the working group elaborating a draft international convention.
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