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ISTC and The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Sign Cooperative Agreement

22 October 2008 -- The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today signed an agreement that calls for an increase in cooperation between the two organizations. The memorandum of understanding seeks to amplify their collaboration in the research and development of applications and technology that could contribute to the IAEA’s activities in the fields of verification and nuclear security, including training and capacity building.

ISTC Executive Director, Adriaan van der Meer, and IAEA Safeguards Director of Technical Support, Nikolay Khlebnikov, signed the agreement at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 22 October 2008.

On the picture: ISTC Executive Director, Adriaan van der Meer (right), and IAEA Safeguards Director of Technical Support, Nikolay Khlebnikov (left)


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ISTCSteve BourneISTC Communications Manager [7-495] 982

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About the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The IAEA serves as the world's foremost intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology. Established as an autonomous organization under the United Nations (UN) in 1957, the IAEA carries out programmes to maximize the useful contribution of nuclear technology to society while verifying its peaceful use.

Mr van der Meer's speech at the IAEA


I am very much pleased to be here today to participate in an important meeting strengthening our relationship. We have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding between ISTC and IAEA. We have defined our general and specific areas of cooperation in support of non-proliferation as well as nuclear safety and security. Today’s event confirms in a more formal way the contacts and exchange of information between us that have already been established some time ago .I would like to thank Nikolay Khlebnikov and his staff for making the signing of the document possible. I look forward to the first joint meeting in Moscow or Vienna under the Memorandum and I am certain that a valuable step is made today in furthering our cooperation in the nuclear science field. 

I am aware that you just have had the six-day General Conference of IAEA in which –rightly- the important role IAEA plays in nonproliferation issues was confirmed. This relates in particular to nuclear safeguards and verification, safety and security, and science and technology.

Both ISTC and IAEA are top-tier organizations engaged in the practical implementation of global nonproliferation policy.


The International Science and Technology Center

ISTC is effectively a non- and counter-proliferation technical mechanism that deals with the scientific aspects related to non-proliferation. It is a research funding agency that operates at the crossroads of international non-proliferation policy and international scientific cooperation. It directly seeks to engage with the scientists and to improve, and assist them to secure where necessary, the facilities and the environment in which they work. 

ISTC does not only relate to the human factor but assists in making laboratories safer and more secure places; to the benefit of the scientists working there, the surrounding communities, and the wider world. 

ISTC was established soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union when thousands of former weapons scientists found themselves unemployed or underemployed. The situation at that time represented perhaps the biggest proliferation challenge the world has faced. ISTC has countered this challenge and over the years its working methods have evolved to include specific programs aimed at commercialization of research, mobility of scientists, and promotion of institutional capacity.

ISTC also contributes to the implementation of the G-8 Global Partnership Program of 2002 against the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. 

And, the Center assists in the achievement of the objectives of the UN SCR 1540 on Global Non-Proliferation and Counter-Terrorism, in particular to the implementation of paragraph 8(d) that deals with industrial and academic, scientific, and engineering personnel. It addresses the concerns of greater involvement of non state actors through new programs.

All P5 members except China play a role in the Center. 

The work of ISTC has helped the implementation of international and national policies in the nuclear and non-nuclear energy fields as well as in the fields of health and environment. It has helped to contribute to the economic persification policy of Russia and other countries. As a result of our efforts, I am proud to mention concrete results such as the creation of new job opportunities and new products such as new medicine, new water purification systems and new orthopedic devices as well ensuring safer aircraft. It has brought Russian expertise to the Large Hadron Collider of CERN experimenting on the theory of the “big bang”. In almost all crucial large detector devices at LHC the results of ISTC projects are visible. In particular, all muon detection at LHC is handled by the (scintillation) crystals produced by the Russian institute identified and brought to collaboration with CERN through ISTC projects.

ISTC is also a matchmaking organization that assists private industry in technology search, connecting international industry with the high quality institutes in Russia and beyond. Various privileges exist to contribute to a policy of open innovation.

ISTC seeks the adoption of a new strategic vision, a vision to emphasize the continued relevance of its proven work in nonproliferation and promotes the sustainability of various institutes in Russia and elsewhere. 

The Secretariat, upon explicit request, is willing to make its accumulated know-how available to other regions in the world. This will allow for new avenues of collaboration and human engagement in non-proliferation matters. 


Nuclear sector as a priority area 

Work in the nuclear sector is one of the main priority areas of ISTC. Many projects in this field were established right at the beginning of the operation of the Center. 

The priority areas are the following:

- To support nonproliferation activities including support for nuclear material accounting and control. - ISTC projects address these issues mainly by creating software to keep track of materials, documents, equipment and staff. ISTC has funded projects in this area in all beneficiary countries, for example:

o In Belarus, upgrade of physical protection and material accounting systems at Sosny institute;

o In Kazakhstan, a nonproliferation monitoring system at the Irtysh River Basin; 

o In Russia and Kazakhstan, a set of projects for the development of prototype systems for nuclear materials control and accounting systems at nuclear facilities;

o A series of ISTC projects on the development of novel, advanced technologies for detection of undeclared nuclear activities and detection and identification of fissile materials in control stations ; and

o ISTC projects that support a worldwide program of conversion of experimental reactor from highly enriched fuels to low-enriched ones.

Further priority areas include:

- nuclear and radiation safety of operating nuclear power plants. For example, to develop methodologies to increase safety and efficiency of the nuclear power plant as well as predicting the reactor lifetime. ISTC is funding projects related to nuclear safety and life-time extension of the VVER reactors. The ISTC Contact Expert Group in Plant Life Management (CEG PLIM) advices to ISTC and gathers European experts in this field in close collaboration with IAEA 

- ISTC promotes novel nuclear reactor concepts and Nuclear Fuel Cycle options. 

For example: 

o ISTC has actively supported IAEA’s INPRO program - International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles A set of the ISTC projects, related to novel reactor concepts and relevant for the INPRO project have been funded:

Lead and lead-bismuth cooled fast reactor;

Sodium-cooled fast reactor with new fuels;

Gas-cooled fast reactor;

High-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) – principal critical experiments and key helium technologies;

Molten-salt technologies ;

Super-critical water-cooled reactor – hydro-dynamic modeling.

o ISTC has an Observer status in the INPRO Steering Committee and in the Technical Working Group on Fast Reactors (TWG-FR)

- It is one of ISTC’s priorities to improve nuclear science management. Projects have led to the retention of information and know-how resulting in various international handbooks. In particular a program of funding publications in selected nuclear technology fields is worth to mention, 

- ISTC has contributed to nuclear power plant decommissioning. New decommissioning concepts were developed and assessed.

o Particular efforts have been directed into decommissioning of fast reactors: 12 ISTC projects were focused on solving practical problems of decommissioning of reactor BN-350 in Kazakhstan (0); 3 ISTC projects supported decommissioning of the fast reactor BR-10 in Obninsk (0) 

o ISTC representatives are active member of the IAEA Contact Experts Group (CEG) for International Radioactive Waste Projects in the Russian Federation (0)

- Also, the Organisation has contributed to the development of nuclear fusion. For example, ISTC contributed to the building of a new, smaller, less expensive fusion reactor called Tokamak GLOBUS-M. The ISTC/STCU Contact Expert Group on Fusion supports coordination of fusion projects between Euratom and CIS countries. 

- And lastly, but by no means as less important regarding our priorities is ISTC’s contribution to the development of nuclear technologies for medicine, such as for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In total, in the last 15 years, 400 projects in the nuclear sector, with over 130 million USD involving 170 Russian and other institutes have been implemented.

ISTC intends to carry out this work on the basis of a programmatic approach via the issuing of targeted calls for proposals. The implications of the current nuclear renaissance due to climate change and energy and security concerns will be taken into account in our work. There is also a need for renewed attention to nuclear safeguards, safety and security.


Specific fields of cooperation

ISTC is ready to launch a targeted call for proposals in advanced nuclear technology, under the title: “Sustainable Nuclear Energy with enhanced safety, security and minimal environmental impact”. The focus will be on:

Optimizing performance, safety and fuel cycle of the existing nuclear power reactors;

Development of sustainable nuclear systems with inherent nonproliferation features. Advanced fuel cycles with innovative fuels and claddings, partitioning and transmutation; 

Coolants and materials for advanced nuclear reactors;

Integral/Demonstration experiments in support for advanced nuclear fuel cycle and/or advanced reactors;

Knowledge management, development and exchange for nuclear safety and advanced nuclear system.

The activities of ISTC and IAEA could be complimentary. While IAEA is focused primarily on policy and safeguard implementation related to nuclear power and nuclear technology, ISTC’s main mode of operation is funding international projects delivering practical solutions to nuclear power/nuclear technology safeguards, safety and security. ISTC is ready to start practical cooperation in a number of areas.

1. to launch a coordinated call for project proposals focused on development nuclear instrumentation and technology for national safeguards and security, as well as for international verification;

2. to prepare a priority list of the most important nuclear data to be improved in the nearest future through new experiments and evaluations;.

3. ISTC will encourage and support project proposals leading to an optimal use of the existing nuclear experimental base in Russia and CIS for the best of civil knowledge development. ISTC will support joint seminars and workshops, training and capacity building in the nuclear technology field, including the development of joint educational and training courses. We would like to support common activities for the development of a non-proliferation culture and an increased awareness of the responsibility of scientists for counteracting the misuse of science.

I suggest today that we establish a Working/ Group for ISTC-IAEA collaboration. This Group will manage day to day implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding.



It is common knowledge that dealing with high-risk materials and technologies, including know-how, has the potential for inappropriate and unauthorized use that could result in great harm. The human factor is a key element of an effective non-proliferation regime. Actions directly targeted at the grassroots level, i.e. inpidual scientists and engineers, are crucial.

At the international level, few programs exist to ensure the promotion of such a “culture of responsibility”. The International Science and Technology Center in Moscow works to instill such a culture. It looks forward to our closer cooperation with IAEA to contribute to the international policy of nuclear non proliferation via technical means, and I congratulate those in both organizations who have worked to bring today’s MOU signing together. We have, through our past cooperation and in the document we have agreed today, a real basis for genuine and necessary collaboration in a field of science crucial to us all.