DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS A PROPOSAL FROM SWITZERLAND TO AMEND ARTICLE 18 OF THE CONVENTION ON NUCLEAR SAFETY
In December 2013, Switzerland submitted to the Director General of the IAEA a proposal to amend Article 18 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). At the 6th Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the CNS held in March 2014, the contracting parties decided, by a two third majority, to submit the Swiss Proposal to a Diplomatic Conference. A South African delegation participated in the Diplomatic Conference in February 2015. The ambassador of South Africa of the Permanent Mission presented a country statement to the President of the Diplomatic Conference and the 77 Contracting Parties present.
In respect of the preparatory process to the Diplomatic Conference two issues emerged. The first being that contracting parties are unequivocally committed to nuclear safety and more will be expected from MS. The second would be that on the matter of nuclear safety, divisions and disagreement must be avoided. It was established in the IWG that it was not possible to reach consensus in regard to the proposed Swiss amendment. The valid alternative presented by the IWG was the need to adopt the “Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety” to signal the importance of strengthening nuclear safety worldwide in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
The essential principles that have been formulated in the “Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety” can be implemented as part of the peer review process of the National Reports of the Contracting Parties, are as follows:
- Accidents should be prevented in the design, siting, and construction of new nuclear power plants. Should an accident occur the radiological consequences be mitigated to avoid long-term off-site contamination and restricting early radioactive releases that are large enough to require long-term protective measures.
- Comprehensive and systematic safety assessments are to be carried out regularly and periodically throughout the operating life time of existing nuclear power plants in order to identify safety improvements that are aimed at meeting the above objective.
- National requirements and regulations for addressing this objective throughout the lifetime of nuclear power plant are to take into account the relevant IAEA Safety Standards, and other good practices identified in the Review Meetings of the CNS.
The outcome of the Diplomatic Conference was the Adoption of the “Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety” by all Contracting Parties. This meeting represents a historical and important milestone for the strengthening of nuclear safety worldwide in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.