A country's decision to embark on nuclear power is very complex and requires considerable analysis. The IAEA supports Member States throughout the decision-making process from initial assessment to siting, construction, operation and decommissioning.
To highlight the work of the IAEA in supporting new nuclear power programmes, the IAEA's Department of Technical Cooperation and the Department of Nuclear Energy co-organized a side event on Supporting New Nuclear Power Programmes in Developing Countries on 4 May 2012. The event was addressed to the participants of first Preparatory Commission Meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, convening in Vienna on 2 May 2012. Delegates from Member States, international organizations and NGOs attended the event.
Ali Boussaha, Director for the Asia and the Pacific Division from the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation, provided an overview of IAEA's services and technical cooperation activities supporting newcomers to nuclear power. Wolfram Tonhauser, Section Head for Nuclear and Treaty Law at the Office of Legal Affairs, focused on the legal assistance that the IAEA offers to countries wishing to embark on new nuclear programmes. Anne Starz, Head of the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Group at the Department of Nuclear Energy, opened and moderated the session.
Increasing global demand for energy, concerns about climate change, volatile fossil fuel prices and the security of energy supply are among the high-priority challenges that IAEA Member States are addressing when they consider including nuclear power in their national energy mix. While it is up to each country to decide whether or not to opt for nuclear power, the IAEA's role is to ensure that the development of nuclear power programmes takes place in a safe, efficient, responsible and sustainable manner. In turn, Member States have to make sure that they are able to fulfil their international obligations in maintaining safety, ensuring security and preventing nuclear proliferation.
In his presentation, Ali Boussaha explained how the IAEA assists newcomer countries in building nuclear power infrastructure through its Technical Cooperation programme. "The IAEA recommends that Member States take a comprehensive phased approach to building national nuclear infrastructure," said Boussaha. The services offered by the IAEA include publications and international standards, but also training, advisory services and peer reviews.
The IAEA's Office of Legal Affairs helps Member States draft national legislation that makes the peaceful use of nuclear energy the law of the land. Tonhauser explained that as a first step, the Office raises awareness on the existing international treaties. Then, it helps countries establish national legislation for nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation according to these obligations. Because nuclear law is very complex and is usually not taught at the national level, the Office organizes national and regional training courses and has created most recently, a Nuclear Law Institute, a two-week course training lawyers from the IAEA's Member States covering all areas of nuclear law. The first course took place in November 2011 in Vienna and trained 87 participants from 61 Member States.
In the concluding question and answer session, the audience discussed with the panellists the legal aspects of nuclear power infrastructure and the support provided by the IAEA's technical cooperation programme.