EU strengthens ties with Atomic Energy Agency

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The European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) took steps to strengthen their cooperation in a range of nuclear activities including nuclear science applications during the fifth annual Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Brussels this week.

The European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) took steps to strengthen their cooperation in a range of nuclear activities including nuclear science applications during the fifth annual Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Brussels this week.

The talks on 15 February 2017 at the EU headquarters provided a forum to exchange views on enhancing collaboration in nuclear safety, security, safeguards, sustainable development and nuclear energy research and innovation and nuclear science applications. In addition, mechanisms to strengthen regional cooperation were discussed, including for the environmental remediation of uranium legacy sites in Central Asia. There were exchanges on the 2017 PrepCom of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The EU continues to attach great importance to the IAEA’s core responsibilities in the field of non-proliferation, nuclear energy, nuclear safety, nuclear security and technical cooperation. The strong political support by the Union and its Member States is backed also financially and technically.

The EU and the IAEA continue to strengthen their cooperation. The SOM was a good opportunity to review progress and to discuss next steps in priority areas, in particular support to Member States in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting was co-chaired by Marco Giacomini, Deputy Managing Director for Human Rights, Global and Multilateral Issues on side of the European Union and Cornel Feruta, Chief Coordinator for the International Atomic Energy Agency. Senior officials of DG Energy and DG DEVCO also participated.

The SOM acknowledged that nuclear safety is a key priority that will remain at the centre of cooperation between the EU and the IAEA. Participants reiterated their willingness to work towards an ambitious implementation of the Vienna Declaration supporting continuous safety improvements for countries that operate or are building new nuclear power plants, including in the EU neighbourhood. The EU emphasized that issues linked with the back end of the life cycle of nuclear facilities, such as decommissioning and radioactive waste management, should receive additional attention and benefit from increased stakeholder involvement with a focus on increasing transparency on funding and processes leading to national and/or shared repositories.

The EU and the IAEA reaffirmed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) based on their respective mandates. The EU High Representative, as Coordinator of the Joint Commission established under the JCPOA, will remain in close contact with the IAEA regarding continued implementation of the agreement. The EU will provide technical support to the IAEA such as equipment and training. The EU also informed about its bilateral cooperation with Iran in implementation of Annex III of the JCPOA, particularly in the area of nuclear safety including research.

EU support for a variety of IAEA activities has delivered consistent and concrete results in several important areas, including global assistance projects. In the margins of the SOM, Aldo Malavasi, Deputy Director General for Nuclear Sciences and Applications for the IAEA and Vladimir Sucha, Director General of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, signed practical arrangements on cooperation in the field of nuclear science and applications for sustainable development.

Nuclear security was also on the agenda, with talks focused on how to achieve more effective and sustainable measures, including the Union support for IAEA activities in the area of nuclear security, strengthening the security of nuclear and radioactive materials, building on the results of the 2016 International Conference on Nuclear Security and preparations for the International Conference on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities. Developments regarding the IAEA LEU Bank in Kazakhstan, including continued EU support, were also discussed.

On safeguarding nuclear materials, the SOM underlined the close collaboration under the existing arrangements and through the EC support programme.