[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 132 (Thursday, July 10, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 39415-39418]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-16173]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

[NRC-2014-0112]


Nuclear Regulatory Commission International Policy Statement

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Policy statement; issuance.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing an 
International Policy Statement. The International Policy Statement 
captures a brief history of almost 40 years of involvement in 
international activities and how this has impacted the NRC. The 
International Policy Statement also outlines how international 
activities directly support the NRC's goals and mission, and enumerates 
specific elements in which the NRC will proactively engage.

DATES: The International Policy Statement is effective July 10, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2014-0112 when contacting the 
NRC about the availability of information for this policy statement. 
You may access publicly-available information related to this policy 
statement by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2014-0112. Address 
questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-287-
3422; email: Carol.Gallagher@nrc.gov. For technical questions, contact 
the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document.
     NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System 
(ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the 
ADAMS Public Documents collection at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select ``ADAMS Public Documents'' and 
then select ``Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.'' For problems with ADAMS, 
please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 
1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to pdr.resource@nrc.gov. The 
International Policy Statement is available in ADAMS under Accession 
No. ML14132A317.
     NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public 
documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 
Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jack Ramsey, Office of International 
Programs, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-
0001; telephone: 301-415-2744; email: Jack.Ramsey@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    The NRC's participation in international activities has evolved 
since the establishment of the agency in 1975. The NRC's international 
activities are wide-ranging, encompassing treaty implementation, 
nuclear nonproliferation, export-import licensing for nuclear materials 
and equipment, international safeguards support and assistance, 
international safety and security cooperation and assistance, 
international safety and security information exchange, and cooperative 
safety research. These activities support the NRC's domestic mission, 
as well as broader U.S. domestic and international interests.

[[Page 39416]]

II. Discussion

    The purpose of this International Policy Statement is to 
acknowledge the well-established Commission position that international 
activities are integral to the NRC's core mission to ensure adequate 
protection of public health and safety, to promote the common defense 
and security, and to protect the environment. The International Policy 
Statement captures a brief history of almost 40 years of involvement in 
international activities and how this has impacted the NRC. The 
International Policy Statement also outlines how international 
activities directly support the NRC's goals and mission, and enumerates 
specific elements in which the NRC will proactively engage. Finally, 
the International Policy Statement provides the context of policy 
elements, including their interrelationships, and establishes 
Commission expectations for the consideration, prioritization, and 
conduct of international activities. The NRC's International Policy 
Statement is published in its entirety in the attachment to this 
document, and is also available in ADAMS under Accession No. 
ML14132A317.

III. Procedural Requirements

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

    This policy statement does not contain new information collection 
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.).

Public Protection Notification

    The NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to, a request for information or an information collection 
requirement unless the requesting document displays a currently valid 
Office of Management and Budget control number.

Congressional Review Act

    This action is not a rule as defined in the Congressional Review 
Act (5 U.S.C. 801-808).

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 2nd day July, 2014.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Annette L. Vietti-Cook,
Secretary of the Commission.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission International Policy Statement

I. Background

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) international 
activities are wide-ranging, encompassing treaty implementation, 
nuclear nonproliferation, export-import licensing for nuclear materials 
and equipment, international safeguards support and assistance, 
international safety cooperation and assistance, international 
regulatory/safety information exchange, and cooperative safety 
research. These activities support the NRC's domestic mission, as well 
as broader U.S. domestic and international interests.
    The NRC's participation in international activities has evolved 
since the establishment of the agency in 1975. By statutory mandate, 
Congress made the NRC the export-import licensing agent for the U.S. 
Government for nuclear materials and equipment. As authorized under 
U.S. Government-negotiated agreements pursuant to Section 123 of the 
Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, or through its own statutory 
authority, the NRC issued, and continues to issue, licenses authorizing 
export of U.S. nuclear power technology and nuclear material globally. 
This, in turn, resulted in many countries' nuclear power programs being 
based on or derived from U.S. technology or being dependent on supplies 
of U.S.-origin fuel, equipment, maintenance, technical expertise, and 
other support services. This exporting of U.S. nuclear technology 
created a much larger operational experience base for U.S. technology 
than existed in the U.S. alone. These developments directly supported 
and influenced the NRC's domestic activities. For example, the NRC 
sought close engagement, primarily through conduct of joint research 
and exchange of operational experience information, with foreign 
regulatory counterparts that had oversight of nuclear power technology 
comparable to that in the U.S. This cooperative relationship included 
both short-term and long-term working assignments at the NRC for 
international regulatory counterparts.
    Since its inception, the NRC has also maintained extensive 
engagement with international organizations such as the International 
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the 
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 1981, the NRC 
and IAEA signed their first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU 
allowed the NRC's regulatory and safety expertise to be shared with the 
IAEA and, subsequently, the world. Further, the agreement between the 
United States and the IAEA covering application of safeguards in the 
United States, consistent with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, 
entered into force in late 1980. This agreement granted the IAEA 
permission to apply safeguards to many NRC-regulated nuclear facilities 
and activities. Internationally, the Convention on Physical Protection 
of Nuclear Material was adopted.
    Starting in the late 1980s, in recognition of changes in the U.S. 
domestic nuclear power program and the international nuclear community 
occurring as a result of both 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 significantly 
expanded. 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, knowledge, and training to international 
regulatory counterparts with oversight of Soviet-designed reactors to 
assist them as they developed their national regulatory infrastructure 
and programs. Internally, NRC Management Directive 9.14, ``Organization 
and Functions, Office of International Programs,'' was developed to 
reflect the NRC's steadily increasing and continually evolving 
international activities and to establish roles and responsibilities 
for international activities among the various NRC offices. 
Internationally, the NRC, as a U.S. Government lead agency, actively 
supported both the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear 
Accident or Radiological Emergency and the Convention on Early 
Notification of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.
    Also, beginning in the late 1980s, as the NRC's cooperation 
activities with other mature nuclear regulatory programs continued to 
grow, the agency added a broad program of safety and, after 2001, 
security assistance activities. These activities are focused on 
providing information, knowledge, and training to other countries to 
assist them as they develop their national nuclear regulatory 
infrastructure and programs. These resources are expended without the 
expectation that the exchange will provide immediate benefits to an NRC 
regulatory program area. However, such exchanges are viewed by the 
Commission, the larger U.S. Government, and the international community 
as invaluable tools for establishing multilateral coalitions, enhancing 
global nuclear safety and security, and strengthening regulatory 
programs for nuclear power plants, research reactors, and radioactive 
materials.
    In the 1990s, the breadth and scope of the NRC's cooperative 
efforts continued

[[Page 39417]]

to expand. Regulatory counterparts in countries to which U.S. nuclear 
technology had been exported had now gained ten-plus years of 
experience in oversight of the design, construction, and operation of 
this technology. The NRC also gained knowledge and operating experience 
information from other countries and applied this knowledge and 
information directly to its domestic regulatory program. 
Internationally, both the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint 
Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of 
Radioactive Waste Management were negotiated and entered into force.
    The 1990s also saw the foreign nuclear safety, security, and 
nonproliferation policies of the broader U.S. Government directly 
impact the NRC. A key nuclear security and non-proliferation foreign 
policy objective of the U.S., for example, was elimination of stocks of 
excess highly enriched uranium (HEU) from defense programs of the 
Russian Federation, also known as the Megatons to Megawatts Program. 
Achieving this policy goal entailed downblending this HEU into low 
enriched uranium (LEU), transporting the resulting LEU to facilities in 
the U.S. for conversion and processing, and eventually utilizing the 
resulting LEU as fuel in commercial nuclear power plants. This activity 
impacted the NRC's export-import licensing functions as well as the 
NRC's safety, security, and safeguards responsibilities covering 
transport of nuclear materials, fuel cycle facilities, and commercial 
nuclear power plants. In addition, the Commission supported greater 
controls over HEU exports to eliminate possible stockpiling of this 
weapons-usable material in other countries while recognizing that the 
manufacture of medical radioisotopes in existing research reactors 
would require ongoing HEU exports as these essential medical supplies 
no longer were manufactured in the United States. The NRC also shared 
its regulatory expertise with foreign counterparts as research reactors 
around the world are retooled to use LEU fuel, further promoting U.S. 
nonproliferation goals.
    Finally, in the last two decades, several momentous events have 
significantly changed the landscape within which the NRC conducts its 
domestic and international activities. These events include the 
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent increased 
focus on securing radioactive materials of concern. In response to the 
latter, countries made political commitments to implement the IAEA's 
Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources 
beginning in 2004. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 ensured the United 
States adopted the Code in its entirety, which resulted in extensive 
revisions to NRC's export-import requirements. Further, there has been 
a resurgence of new build for commercial power reactors in the U.S. and 
abroad, including the significant number of ``new entrant'' countries 
seeking nuclear power programs. As a result, the manufacture of nuclear 
parts and the provision of nuclear services have been significantly 
reduced in the U.S. for domestic nuclear power reactor construction, 
which has created dependence on the global marketplace among U.S. 
nuclear power plant owners/operators. Also, first-of-a-kind 
construction of new nuclear power plants, including technologies under 
consideration for use in the U.S., is now occurring outside of the U.S. 
and sensitive nuclear technology (including enrichment technology) has 
been imported into the U.S. Finally, the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi 
accident following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami had a 
deep impact on the international community which is still absorbing the 
``lessons learned'' from those events. All of these trends have sharply 
increased the visibility of international standards and international 
peer reviews, the need for strengthening and harmonizing the 
international export-import regime, and the need for strong, 
independent regulatory authorities.

II. Statement of Policy on International Activities

    International activities are integral to the NRC's public health 
and safety and common defense and security mission and directly support 
U.S. foreign policy objectives. Specific elements in which the NRC will 
engage include:
     Implementing obligations pursuant to international 
treaties and conventions and, with U.S. Government partners, supporting 
development and adoption of those pertaining to the NRC;
     Providing international assistance to foreign regulatory 
counterparts for improving safety and security of civilian uses of 
radioactive materials;
     Fostering international technical cooperation, sharing 
regulatory and operational experience, and supporting collaborative 
research for the mutual benefit of NRC programs and those of our 
international counterparts;
     Enhancing development of global nuclear safety, security, 
and safeguards regulatory partnerships; and
     Demonstrating leadership on regulatory issues, both within 
the international community and the U.S. Government.

III. Discussion

    The policy statement provides four key, inter-related elements 
within which international activities are examined, prioritized, and 
conducted as an integral component of the NRC's mission. These 
components must be balanced in effective agency programs that reflect 
current Commission and U.S. Government priorities and the range of 
organizational and technical priorities and objectives. As used in this 
policy, the term ``radioactive materials'' is intended to cover all 
aspects of use, including the fuel cycle, nuclear power generation, and 
medical and industrial applications.
    International activities are best conducted in an ongoing, 
collegial manner in which the NRC is proactively engaged to provide 
information and learn from others for the mutual benefit of all 
participants. In certain cases, the NRC is requested to, and frequently 
does, provide leadership for activities that reflect a high degree of 
technical expertise or a focus upon process and solutions that are of 
mutual benefit and a clear understanding of the cultural, political, 
and technical needs and solutions.
    The policy elements are not a specific priority ranking of 
activities, although obligations mandated by law, treaties, and 
conventions will be given the highest priority. Implementation of this 
policy requires consistent dialogue and consultation across 
organizational lines to ensure that the NRC's response to issues and 
requests reflects both internal NRC and broader U.S. Government 
priorities.
    International activities is a very general term that includes a 
variety of activities and program elements. Some of these elements 
represent the changing marketplace and the globalization of the supply 
chain. For example, regulatory activities that were previously 
conducted exclusively within the United States, such as activities in 
support of licensing and inspection, are now being conducted 
internationally. Likewise, research on various issues is being 
conducted both within the United States and internationally, and the 
most effective leverage of resources and expertise will dictate a 
particular approach for any given situation. All of the above are 
international activities but are intertwined with domestic activities.
    Other activities are more obviously identified as 
``international,'' where the specific focus involves cooperation and 
assistance activities with international counterparts and 
organizations. These

[[Page 39418]]

may be both bilateral and multilateral in nature and may, in any 
particular circumstance, reflect several of the international policy 
elements.
    Because of the breath of its programs, resources, and expertise, 
the NRC is often looked to for leadership in a wide variety of venues. 
The NRC should, when it is appropriate to do so, provide such 
leadership in a cooperative and collegial manner. The NRC should 
continue to build partnerships with our international counterparts, and 
should propose approaches to our counterparts that ensure equal 
partnerships so as to be a positive influence in creating workable 
technical and policy alternatives.
    NRC participation in international activities should clearly 
reflect our role and responsibilities as an independent regulatory 
agency. Thus, our focus should be upon safety and security.
    Satisfying international treaty and convention obligations, as well 
as statutory mandates, is a significant priority for both the NRC and 
the broader U.S. Government. For example, the NRC is a lead agency 
within the U.S. Government for implementation of the Convention on 
Nuclear Safety. The NRC has significant responsibilities supporting 
broader U.S. Government commitments made through the Nuclear 
Nonproliferation Treaty, the Convention on Physical Protection of 
Nuclear Material, the Convention on Assistance in Case of a Nuclear 
Accident or Radiological Emergency, the Convention on Early 
Notification of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, and the 
Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the 
Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The NRC also has a lead role in 
domestic implementation of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and 
Security of Radioactive Sources and the Code of Conduct on the Safety 
of Research Reactors. By statutory mandate, Congress made the NRC the 
export-import licensing agent for nuclear materials and equipment for 
the U.S. Government. As such, the NRC has upheld, and will continue, to 
uphold obligations pursuant to international treaties and conventions. 
Further, the NRC proactively engages with its U.S. Government partners 
on the development and adoption of proposed international treaties and 
conventions that are relevant to its mandate.
    International guides, standards, and recommendations document 
internationally-accepted benchmarks and best practices. Such documents 
are relied upon by the international nuclear safety and security 
community. The NRC participates in the development, adoption, and 
implementation of many such documents. Specifically, the NRC 
participates in the Commission on Safety Standards; the Nuclear 
Security Guidance Committee; and the Nuclear, Radiation, Transport, and 
Waste Safety Standards Committees of the IAEA. The NRC also 
participates in the work of the International Commission on 
Radiological Protection and the United Nations Scientific Committee on 
the Effects of Atomic Radiation. This participation allows the NRC to 
share its experience broadly with the international standard-setting 
community and to learn from others' experiences. As such, the 
Commission believes that the NRC should support such efforts, as 
appropriate. The Commission also expects the NRC's regulatory programs 
to be appropriately informed by such international guides, standards, 
and recommendations.
    The NRC's international activities benefit, both directly and 
indirectly, the NRC and its stakeholders. The NRC shares its regulatory 
knowledge and experience with international regulatory counterparts. 
Likewise, the NRC also seeks knowledge and experience from 
international regulatory counterparts. The NRC continuously assesses, 
and where relevant incorporates, international operating experience and 
research insights into NRC's domestic regulatory program. The NRC also 
routinely shares international operating experience and research 
insights with the international community. The NRC provides 
opportunities for assignment to the NRC of staff from international 
regulatory counterparts. Likewise, the NRC seeks opportunities for 
assignment of NRC staff to international regulatory counterparts to 
broaden staff experience and perspectives. The NRC participates in 
international cooperative research, through the NEA and others, 
effectively leveraging resources and international expertise. The NRC 
also provides assistance to international regulatory counterparts 
looking to enhance their regulatory programs. Regulatory counterparts 
of countries considering nuclear power, for example, request advice and 
support for establishing their regulatory programs. Other counterparts 
seek NRC's advice and assistance for enhancing oversight of their 
existing nuclear power and research reactor programs. In addition, 
NRC's advice and assistance for enhancing oversight of the use of 
radioactive sources is often sought after globally. The Commission 
believes that the partnerships created by the NRC's cooperation and 
assistance efforts benefit the regulatory programs of the NRC and of 
international counterparts, as well as the global nuclear safety and 
security community. The Commission also supports broader U.S. 
Government interests within the context of a strong, independent 
regulatory agency.
    The international community is united in its endorsement of the 
need for open, transparent, and effective regulatory oversight of the 
use of nuclear and radioactive materials. For almost 40 years, the NRC 
has had regulatory safety and security oversight of one of the most 
extensive civilian nuclear programs in the world. This includes power 
and research reactors, fuel cycle facilities, waste facilities, and 
radioactive sources. From this, the NRC has gained extensive and 
diverse regulatory experience. The NRC's international activities also 
align with broader U.S. Government foreign policy initiatives. 
Assisting regulatory counterparts in enhancing oversight of radioactive 
sources, for example, supports broader U.S. Government nuclear security 
initiatives by reducing the likelihood that malevolent actors could 
obtain such material for use in a radiological dispersal or exposure 
device. As such, the Commission believes that the NRC should 
demonstrate leadership on regulatory issues, both within the 
international community and the U.S. Government.

[FR Doc. 2014-16173 Filed 7-9-14; 8:45 am]
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