By Lincoln G. Peters
The Liberia Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Risk Mitigation (CBRNe-Liberia) in Collaboration with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Department of Energy has begun the development of a national roadmap document for Liberia’s adherence to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and it’s amendment (CPPNM).
The three days brainstorming symposium officially kicked off Tuesday, 1 August, and will climax on Thursday, 3 August 2023 at a local hotel in Congo Town.
It is also being held in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to raise awareness of the International Legal framework for nuclear security and its amendment and benefits of adherence and implementation.
The initiative also aims to familiarize stakeholders in Liberia with the available legislative and technical assistance to the state towards adherence to and effective implementation of the International Legal Instrument.
The symposium also aims at facilitating the development of a roadmap for Liberia’s adherence to the CPPNM and its amendment.
The CPPNM was adopted on 26 October 1997. Also, the amendment to the CPPNM was adopted on 8 July 2005 and entered into force on 8 May 2016.
The CPPNM, as strengthened by its amendment, is one of the main international tools to protect nuclear materials and facilitates criminal or intentional unauthorized acts by providing a foundation for establishing an effective physical protection regime.
It also forms a basis for cooperation and assistance and harmonizing approaches to combating criminal acts aimed at or involving nuclear materials and facilitates.
The new obligation for the state under the amendment of the CPPNM seeks to significantly strengthen the original CPPNM instead of only requiring physical protection measures for nuclear materials in international transport.
The amendment extends the scope of the original treaty, setting out obligations for parties to ensure the physical protection of all nuclear facilities and nuclear materials used for peaceful purposes under the jurisdiction.
The amendment also adds to the list of criminal offenses by covering nuclear material smuggling and sabotage of nuclear materials and facilitates.
The amendment also provides for enhanced international cooperation, including assistance and information sharing in the event of sabotage.
Speaking in an interview with this paper, Wednesday, 2 August 2023 at the symposium in Congo Town, the National Coordinator of CBRNE, Asst. Prof. Martin Scott-Tabi said they are having the high-profile engagement to inform the national stakeholders on the risks Liberia exposes itself to of not being aware of the consequences of having laws to protect its citizens and environment from radio nuclear materials.
He said that they have over sixty participants and approximately thirty government line ministries and agencies and non-state actors attending the symposium.
“We are developing this roadmap document to bring to bed rules and regulations and enforceable guiding principles and procedures which could serve as deterrence.”
Making a brief remark, Lofa County Senator and Chair on Defense, Steve Zargo expressed excitement and appreciation to CBRNe-Liberia for the initiative.
He encouraged participants to take the symposium very seriously and make sure they become ambassadors.
He added that there is a need for the protection of Liberia’s nuclear materials.
“We extoll you for this initiative because it’s a great milestone achievement. There is a need that our nuclear materials be protected before [they] get in the hands of the bad guys,” he said.