United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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International Assistance

The NRC has an international assistance program that provides technical information and training to help countries develop or expand their national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure and programs.  These activities are viewed by the Commission, the larger U.S. Government, and the international community as an invaluable tool for establishing multilateral coalitions, enhancing global nuclear safety and security, and strengthening regulatory programs for nuclear power plants, research reactors, and radioactive materials.

In response to the Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl accidents and significant foreign policy events such as the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the NRC's international engagements expanded in the late 1980s.  The NRC, in close coordination with other parts of the U.S. Government, established a nuclear safety cooperative effort with its (then) Soviet regulatory counterpart.  This effort later evolved to include providing information and training to international regulators responsible for the oversight of Soviet-designed reactors to assist them as they developed regulatory infrastructure and programs.  Since then, the NRC's international assistance program has further developed to a broader program in support of global nuclear safety.  Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent increased focus on securing nuclear facilities and radioactive materials, the NRC added a program of source security and physical protection assistance to protect U.S. national security interests and to help prevent the misuse of radioactive sources for malevolent purposes.

Two of the NRC's major international assistance activities are managed under the following:

  1. The Radiation Sources Regulatory Partnership (RSRP)

The RSRP assists member country partners in establishing and strengthening regulatory control over the use of radiation sources and X-ray generators.  The RSRP program accomplishes this through:  providing assistance to regulators in order to develop and implement laws, regulations, and guidance for safe and secure use of radiation sources; developing user licensing guidance and conducting workshops to facilitate the licensing process; and helping member countries conduct an inventory and develop a registry of their radiation sources.  RSRP program elements follows major recommendations of International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Code of Conduct for Safe and Secure Use of Radiation Sources (IAEA, 2004).  The program is consistent with applicable IAEA safety standards and recommendations.

  1. The International Regulatory Development Partnership (IRDP)

The IRDP assists member country partners with new or expanding nuclear power or research and test reactor programs to establish and maintain an effective nuclear safety and security regulatory authority.  The IRDP accomplishes this through:  providing technical assistance to help develop organizational infrastructure and programmatic resources for licensing and oversight of nuclear reactors; sponsoring workshops on topics ranging from the fundamentals of reactor safety regulation to the details of licensing reviews to construction and vendor inspections; and bilateral consulting to further enhance agency development in specific areas.

The NRC's international assistance program is consistent with the United States' peaceful uses commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires that NPT non-nuclear weapon states agree to never acquire nuclear weapons in exchange for NPT nuclear weapon states sharing the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology. 

For any questions about the NRC's International Assistance Program, please send an e-mail to NRC-InternationalAssistance@nrc.gov.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, July 24, 2018