How the IAEA Standards are developed
The safety standards are developed on the basis of scientific knowledge and technical developments, and regulatory experience gained in these areas. The preparation and review process for the standards is led by the IAEA Secretariat and involves experts from its Member States. An important aspect of the preparation and review process is consultation and collaboration with other international organisations and specialised agencies, while reviews are done by the IAEA Secretariat and the IAEA Member States. The final decision on all IAEA Safety Standards is taken by the IAEA Board of Governors and approved by the General Conference. The IAEA Standards represent a consensus of the broad majority of its Member States on what constitutes a high level of safety for the protection of people and the environment from harmful effects of ionising radiation. The standards apply to the operation of nuclear installations, the use of radiation and radioactive sources, the transport of radioactive material and the management of radioactive waste. The safety standards comprise the Safety Fundamentals (Fundamental Safety Principles), a set of Safety Requirements and supporting Safety Guides.
The IAEA is advised by four safety standards committees, for nuclear safety, radiation safety, the safety of radioactive waste and the safe transport of radioactive material, and a Commission on Safety Standards which oversees the IAEA safety standards programme.
History of Standards development in IAEA
The IAEA's Statute authorises the IAEA to establish or adopt standards of safety and to provide for their application. The first IAEA safety standard was issued in December 1958. Experience accumulated over the past 50 years and a focus on continuous improvement have led to a global recognition of the high quality and relevance of the safety standards and have generated wide interest in their use.
How are the IAEA Standards used?
The internationally agreed IAEA standards are a cornerstone of the global nuclear safety regime. They provide a basis for countries to demonstrate their performance in fulfilling the binding obligations on contracting parties that are set out in the international safety-related conventions.
Many countries use the standards and guidelines as a basis for their own legally binding standards. The international standards provide countries, whether striving to achieve best practices or embarking on the use of nuclear energy, with a reference in developing national regulations and in applying good practices. The principal users of IAEA safety standards are regulatory bodies and other relevant national authorities. They are also used by organizations involved in the design, construction and operation of nuclear installations and in the use of radiation and radioactive sources.
The European Commission has recognised the IAEA Standards as providing a basis for the harmonisation of nuclear safety standards within the European Union.