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Regulatory Cooperation Forum Unveils 2020 Strategic Plan to Enhance International Cooperation for Nuclear Safety


The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant construction site in the United Arab Emirates in 2016. (Photo: L. Potterton/IAEA)

To help nuclear regulators in the growing number of countries introducing or considering nuclear power, regulators from countries with established nuclear power programmes are stepping up support to their peers from nuclear newcomers. The Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF), established ten years ago, has launched a new strategic plan to focus this support around overcoming six typical key challenges. 

“Safety must be considered in each element of the development of a nuclear power programme,” said Greg Rzentkowski, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. “A strong and effective regulator capable of shouldering this responsibility is necessary to do it right.” The international community can help in this regard, he added.

A number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria and Poland, have plans or show interest in introducing a new nuclear power programme, in addition to those constructing new nuclear power plants. This is a major undertaking that requires careful planning, preparation and investment in time, institutions and human resources.

Nuclear safety remains the responsibility of individual countries, and they must establish regulators with adequate competence, independence and authority to oversee the industry in an effective and transparent manner.  Furthermore, there is a need to establish sustainable and acceptable safety policies and requirements for nuclear installations and waste disposal facilities.  These challenges are supported through close international collaboration and sharing of experience.

The 2020-2024 Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF) Strategic Plan, released this week, provides strategic objectives to address the identified six common challenges in developing regulatory framework for countries introducing or expanding their nuclear power programmes. These are: maintaining independence, securing adequate funding for regulators, human resource development for regulators, development of regulations and guides, effective management of technical support organizations, and the involvement of the public by the regulator.

"With the accumulation of experience of RCF embarking countries, we identified the common issues to focus on,” said Masahiro Aoki, Senior Nuclear Safety Expert at the IAEA. “Through the Strategic Plan, we can direct our attention to these issues and work with members to overcome them and effectively coordinate the support from experienced countries. For example, regarding the issue of regulations and guides for the industry, existing IAEA services such as the IAEA School of Drafting Regulations and review services on draft regulations can be utilized.”

The RCF Strategic Plan will be a topic of discussion at a virtual side event taking place during the 64th IAEA General Conference.  The event will be livestreamed on 25 September between 13:00-15:00.

The RCF is a member-driven forum of nuclear safety regulators and made up of nuclear safety regulators from 26 countries as well as the European Commission, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the IAEA. The Forum promotes the sharing of regulatory knowledge and experience through international cooperation with the goal of achieving a high standard of nuclear safety that is consistent with the IAEA safety standards.

 “The RCF Strategic Plan was conceived with the objective to effectively provide a standard for cooperation and support amidst varying forms of assistance around the globe,” said Bismark Tyobeka, RCF Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the National Nuclear Regulator of South Africa. “With this foundation, we aim to ensure that the assistance provided to regulators is targeted, timely and ultimately impactful.”

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