The importance of regulatory independence is recognized in the Convention on Nuclear Safety [11] and the IAEA Safety Requirements on legal and governmental infrastructure for safety (Ref. [2]). Both documents address the establishment of a regulatory body and the need for its separation, or independence, from the promoters of nuclear technology. The primary reason for this separation is to ensure that regulatory judgements can be made, and enforcement actions taken, without pressure from interests that may conflict with safety. Furthermore, the credibility of the regulatory body in the eyes of the general public depends in large part upon whether the regulatory body is regarded as being independent from the organizations it regulates, as well as independent from government agencies or industry groups that promote nuclear technologies. It is recognized that a regulatory body cannot be absolutely independent in all respects from the rest of government: it must function within a national system of laws and budget constraints, just as other governmental and private organizations do. Nevertheless, it is important for its credibility and effectiveness that the regulatory body has effective independence in order to make the necessary decisions with respect to the safety of workers, the public and the environment. The need for independence of the regulatory body does not imply that it needs to have an adversarial relationship with operators or any other stakeholder. The following paragraphs provide a more detail discussion of a number of elements of regulatory independence:

Elements of regulatory independence

Political: The political system shall ensure clear and effective separation of responsibilities (duties) between the regulatory body and organizations responsible for the development of nuclear technologies. In this regard, it is important to distinguish between independence and accountability. The regulatory body should not be subject to political influence or pressure in taking safety decisions. The regulatory body should however be accountable with regard to fulfilling its mission to protect workers, the public and the environment from undue radiation hazards. One way of providing this accountability is by establishing a direct reporting line from the regulatory body to the highest levels of government. In the case where a regulatory body reports to a government agency that has responsibility for exploiting or promoting nuclear technologies, there should be channels of reporting to higher authorities to resolve any conflicts of interest that may arise. This accountability should not interfere with the independence of the regulatory body in making specific safety decisions with neutrality and objectivity.

Legislative: In the legislative framework of a national regulatory system (e.g. atomic laws or decrees) the role, competence and independence of the regulatory body with respect to safety should be defined. The regulatory body shall have the authority to adopt or develop safety regulations that implement laws passed by the legislature. The regulatory body shall also have the authority to take decisions including enforcement actions. There should be a formal mechanism for appeal against regulatory decisions, with predefined conditions that must be met for an appeal to be considered. The regulatory body shall have the responsibility for adopting or developing safety regulations that implement laws passed by the legislature.

Financial: "The regulatory body shall be provided with adequate authority and power, and it shall be ensured that it has adequate staffing and financial resources to discharge its assigned responsibilities." (Ref. [2] , Para. 2.2 (4)) While it is recognized that the regulatory body is in principle subject to the same financial controls as the rest of government, the budget of the regulatory body should not be subject to review and approval by government agencies responsible for exploiting or promoting nuclear technologies.

Competence: The regulatory body should have independent technical expertise in the areas relevant to its safety mission. The management within the regulatory body should therefore have the responsibility and authority to recruit staff with the skills and technical expertise they consider necessary to carry out the regulatory functions. In addition the regulatory body should maintain awareness of the state of the art in safety technology. In order to have access to outside technical expertise and advice that is independent of operator or industry funding/support to support its regulatory decisionmaking, "The regulatory body shall have the authority to obtain such documents and opinions from private or public organizations or persons as may be necessary and appropriate" (Ref. [2], Para.2.6 (10)). In particular, the regulatory body shall have the ability to set up and fund independent advisory bodies to provide expert opinion and advice (Ref. [2] , Para. 2.4, (9)) and to award contracts for research and development projects.

Information to the Public: One of the responsibilities of the regulatory body is to provide information to the public. "The regulatory body shall have the authority to communicate independently its regulatory requirements, decisions and opinions and their basis to the public." (Ref.[2] , Para. 2.6, (11)). Since the public will only have confidence in the safe use of nuclear technology if the regulatory process and decisions are transparent, government should set up a system to allow independent experts and experts from major stakeholders (for example, the industry and the workforce and the public) to provide their views. The experts' findings should be published.

International: "The regulatory body shall have the authority to liaise with regulatory bodies of other countries and with international organizations to promote co-operation and exchange of regulatory information." (Ref.[2] , Para. 2.6, (14)).