The Governing Board of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) held its 54td meeting in Moscow The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald Lehman..
Representatives of various ISTC Parties attended the meeting, including Canada, the European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United States of America, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan participated as rotating CIS Board member.
The Members of the ISTC Governing Board gathered in Moscow to discuss developments with respect to the ISTC and set the direction and priorities for future action.
The Governing Board held a discussion on the consequences of the diplomatic note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation of 13 July 2011 announcing the withdrawal of Russia from ISTC by 2015. During that time, the diplomatic note states, all the provisions of the ISTC Agreement will remain fully in force. All approved projects in the Russian Federation will be completed within the remaining timeframe. The Board invited the ED to ensure the timely closure of the remaining projects in Russia on the basis of the time-schedule as foreseen in each of them.
The Board stressed the importance of the technical consultations between the ISTC funding parties and the Russian Federation covering a broad range of issues related to Russia’s withdrawal.
The following points were made with respect to other individual items:
- The funding parties urged the Russian party to find an umbrella solution with respect to the tax-free and customs duty-free continued use and/ or transfer of ISTC delivered equipment to all relevant Russian institutes and companies. Such an approach would facilitate a smooth outcome of the transfer s, thus avoiding detailed and time consuming procedures. The transfer of ownership of this equipment should not result in any tax liability, either for the funding parties or for the host-country research institutes, laboratories and companies involved;
- The Governing Board reconfirmed its position that, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the ISTC Agreement, ISTC funds are not to be used to payany tariffs, dues, customs duties, import taxes, and other similar taxes or charges imposed by the Russian Federation and the other ISTC countries of the CIS and Georgia;
- The funding parties would like to see more progress also on other outstanding issues, for example with respect to the repayment of outstanding loans and the repayment of renovation/ maintenance costs at ISTC Headquarters in Moscow as referred in a Memorandum of 26 October 2011 and of 23 November 2011. These costs were paid from ISTC AOB budgets in response to urgent needs on a recoverable basis by the ISTC funding parties;
- The ED was invited to continue the preparations of a proposal on the retention and disposal of relevant ISTC records in view of the wind down of the work of the ISTC in Russia. The proposal needs further discussion at the next Governing Board meeting;
- The ED was asked to prepare a plan on the total liquidation of the activities of the ISTC in Russia within the timeframe set forth in the 13 July diplomatic note. The plan needs to be in conformity with the relevant provisions of the ISTC agreement and relevant Russian legislation;
- The funding parties encouraged the Russian Federation to make additional efforts to ensure re-employment of ISTC staff working at the Secretariat. Information about these individuals who are being redeployed was forwarded to the Russian party.
Representatives of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan stated that ISTC should continue its activities in their countries – now and beyond 2015 - on the basis of the ISTC Agreement of 1992. They asked the funding parties to continue project funding and the execution of various supplemental programs for the benefit of scientists and engineers in their countries.
The funding parties thanked the Government of Kazakhstan cordially for their generous offer to locate the ISTC’s Headquarters in the country. In this respect they appreciated the preparatory work done by the secretariat and invited the ED to continue with these activities. A progress report is to be presented at the next ISTC Governing Board meeting.
The Board also discussed the consequences of the withdrawal of Russia for the longer-term operation of the Center. It was agreed that some changes might possibly be needed in the existing ISTC statutory documents. The Board asked the ED to prepare a discussion paper for the next Governing Board meeting, setting out ways to guarantee the smooth functioning of the organization after Russian withdrawal has actually been effected.
The parties who are also members of the STCU instructed the ED to begin discussion with his STCU counterpart on ways that the two separate centers can work more closely together. In the expectation that the STCU will be willing to enter into such discussions, they instructed the ED to assess coordinating certain administrative/ financial functions and activities, as appropriate, while retaining the separate legal foundations of both centers and respecting their separate memberships. It was agreed that the Executive Director would report progress at the spring 2012 CEC meeting.
The Governing Board agreed on the desirability of continuing discussions regarding the possible establishment of a new multilateral framework for scientific and technological cooperation based, for example, on the objectives and principles identified in the report of the working party adopted by the Governing Board on 14 July 2010. The parties agreed that such discussions should continue in a variety of venues and should include consideration of the many issues associated with multilateral scientific and technical, as well as nonproliferation cooperation. Representatives of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan looked forward to participation in a future discussion on a new framework for international scientific cooperation with nonproliferation aspects.
The Governing Board approved the new staffing table and staffing policy, and authorized that the Executive Director implement these decisions in accordance with the established ISTC procedures and applicable Russian and international law.
The Governing Board approved the FY2012 administrative operational budget AOB on the total amount of $5,951,600.
The Governing Board approved all the FY2012 supplemental budget SB programs’ activity plans, overall budget amounts, and individual contributions by each party, it is recognized that each Party can provide further contributions throughout the year. The total amount is $1,743,466.
The Governing Board approved the proposed annual wage indexation/cost of living adjustment for Russian and other CIS and Georgia staff at 7%, effective 1 January 2012.
The Governing Board welcomed the progress made on the review of the results of ISTC projects in the following scientific areas: nuclear safeguards, nuclear radiation sensors and research related to technologies to support the oil and gas sector. It looked forward to the reports of the expert review panels to be discussed at the next ISTC Governing Board meeting. On that occasion, the Board will also consider whether to carry out expert reviews in other selected scientific areas of interest.
The Governing Board took note of the implementation of the new program to make expertise available in order to contribute to the solution of the situation in and around Fukushima. It welcomed the first exchange of views between scientists and authorities on the results of funded ISTC projects in the field of severe accident management and environmental remediation.
A number of additional events will be organized in 2012 to continue the dissemination of relevant scientific and technological information to interested parties in Japan, including acquired experience in dealing with similar cases that have taken place in the former Soviet Union.
The Governing Board approved the final Project Funding Worksheet (FS54). The ISTC approved 1 new project representing over 398,809 USD in new funding for activities in Armenia. It thanked SAC cordially for the evaluation of the project proposals. It set 16 March 2012 as a deadline for the submission of project proposals for consideration at the next funding session FS55.
The total sum for partner projects that received funding after GBM53 is 1,029,500 USD and 70,000 Euro for 5 new projects. Currently there are 376 projects under implementation at ISTC. This total is divided into 174 regular projects, 182 partner projects and 20 innovation and communication support projects.
The Governing Board thanked the ISTC Secretariat for their professionalism in fulfillment of its tasks during the past year. The Board expressed its understanding for the challenging circumstances under which work currently is being carried out.
The Governing Board thanked representatives from Kazakhstan for the valuable contribution to the work of Governing Board of ISTC in their function as rotating Governing Board Member. From 1 January 2012, Armenia will take this position of rotating Governing Board Member.
The Governing Board noted with satisfaction the approval by written procedure of the appointment of Dr. Masanori Araki as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee for a 5-year term.
The Governing Board approved the extension of Mr. Adriaan van der Meer as Executive Director of the ISTC Secretariat until 30 April 2013. It also approved the extension of the contract of Mr. Sergey Vorobiev, Principal Deputy Executive Director until 15 April 2013. The contract of Mr. Michael Einik as Deputy Executive Director was extended for one year until 24 April 2013.
The Governing Board decided to convene the next Governing Board meeting on 26 June 2012 in Moscow.