While the Government of Barbados is committed to the Caribbean region remaining a zone of peace, it has also maintained that cooperation is crucial for strengthening and the preservation of nuclear security.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, made these remarks during the opening of a two-day workshop for some CARICOM countries on the Universalization of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its 2005 Amendment (ACPPNM) at the Hilton Barbados, recently.
ICSANT is one of the key legal instruments for nuclear security, which seeks to criminalize acts of nuclear terrorism. The CPPNM is the only legally binding instrument in the area of physical protection of nuclear material, and requires states to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, in storage and in transport.
Minister Walcott stated: “It must be noted that the Government of Barbados is committed to ensuring that the Caribbean region be known as a zone of peace. Therefore, we will willingly, according to our means and resources, join with regional and international partners, to work together in preventing acts of terror or the misuse of nuclear materials, thereby making sure that our region remains a zone of peace.
“For while Barbados acknowledges that nuclear security remains the responsibility of individual states, we also recognize that international cooperation is essential for the strengthening and preservation of that security and in ensuring the protection of our people and our environment. We understand that real development cannot occur without security.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister lauded the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for hosting the workshop to increase awareness of fully implementing the ICSANT, CPPNM and the 2005 amendment.
“Barbados appreciates the efforts of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime to keep these Conventions on the front-burner of those CARICOM countries, like Barbados, which have not yet signed on to them. We know that as members of the international community, we are obliged to play our part, even though we do not produce nuclear materials or explosives, nor have nuclear reactors, or nuclear facilities,” he said.
Also speaking was Regional Implementation Coordinator CARICOM-UNSCR 1540 Implementation Programme, O’Neil Hamilton. He pointed out that “the need for concerted action within the region remains significant”.
Mr. Hamilton suggested that to meet some of the requirements under the CPPNM, regional governments needed to implement the various resolutions; adopt licensing procedures; and conduct “rigorous end-user and end-use analysis” to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
He insisted terrorists, syndicates, violent extremists and lone actors were committed to using nuclear materials to produce weapons of mass destruction, and argued that there was an erroneous notion that such materials were difficult to access.
However, he outlined that radioactive materials are extensively used within the region in medicine, agriculture, research, manufacturing and minerals exploration.
Mr. Hamilton also called for regional control export arrangements, which he said would control items that are transiting or being transshipped through the Caribbean’s waters, airspace or territories, including free ports.
UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean States, Didier Trebucq, told participants at the workshop: “The transnational nature of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism requires a responsible and coordinated response from the international community and member states.”
High Commissioner of Canada, Marie Legault, echoed his comments, noting that nuclear security is important, and requires cooperation and coordination.
She added that the Government of Canada was pleased to co-host the technical workshop with Barbados, which attracted participants from 11 countries.
“The Caribbean’s security is Canada’s security; we are all intertwined. Security knows no boundaries,” she said.