International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Key milestones

• 4 August 1992 – Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, of 1968.

• 24 May 1999 – Agreement signed between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (INFCIRC/580).

• July 5 2000 – Visit of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Heydar Aliyev to Austria and his meeting with IAEA Director General Mr. Mohammed El-Baradei.

• 18 September 2000 – IAEA General Conference approved Azerbaijan’s membership of the IAEA.

• 20 December 2000 – Additional Protocol  to the Agreement Between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (INFCIRC/580/Add.1) was signed.

• 13 February 2001 – Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on accession to the Statute of the IAEA was adopted.

• May 2002 – Visit of the IAEA Director General Mr. Mohammed El-Baradei to Azerbaijan took place. 

• 19 January 2004 – Accession to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

• 24 April 2008 – Establishment of the State Agency on Nuclear and Radiological Activities Regulation (SANRAR) within the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

• 28 January 2009 – Ratification of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism of 2005.

• 2009-2011 – Azerbaijan membership at the Board of Governors.

General overview

Azerbaijan has been developing its multifaceted cooperation with IAEA as a full-fledged member since 2001. With a view to further expand and deepen cooperation with the Agency on 14th September 2002 the State Commission on cooperation between Azerbaijan and IAEA was set up and Deputy Prime-Minister of Azerbaijan was appointed as its Chairman. To undertake a number of specific tasks the Commission has established a group of senior experts in a number of fields of science and technology.

In the framework of cooperation with the IAEA, topmost priority is given to strengthening the regulatory infrastructure and the application of nuclear methods and technology in the high priority sectors of health, environmental protection, industry, energy and science. Establishment of the State Agency on Nuclear and Radiological Activities Regulation (SANRAR) within the Ministry of Emergency Situations in 24 April 2008 was an important step in this regard.

Agency’s expertise in the areas of nuclear installation safety, radiation safety, transport safety, safety of management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, safe decommissioning of nuclear facilities and other facilities using radioactive material, safety and security of radioactive sources, preparedness and response for nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies is of particular interest for Azerbaijan.

Since its membership Azerbaijan has received technical assistance from the IAEA through a number of national Technical Cooperation (TC) projects; it also participates in many regional projects of the TC programme for the European region.

Azerbaijan attaches importance to the Agency’s Action Plan on Nuclear Safety which was elaborated after Fukushima accident. Ensuring transparency in all issues of nuclear safety through timely and consistent exchange and distribution of comprehensive information is necessary to increase confidence and safety in the South-Caucasus region.

Safeguards:

The IAEA is the key instrument of international community for preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensuring that the use of nuclear materials is done in the safest and securest way possible. In this context, Azerbaijan applies relevant safeguards regime and fully cooperates with IAEA. 

Sharing international community’s concerns, Azerbaijan ratified Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on August 4, 1992 and supported extension of the Treaty indefinitely in 1995. Azerbaijan considers that it is important to universalize the NPT, which now has 189 States parties, and encourage remaining hold-out countries (Israel, DPRK, India, and Pakistan) to join the treaty.

Azerbaijan considers NPT as the main element of the regimes of the global nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Azerbaijan believes that one of the ways of strengthening nuclear weapons non-proliferation regimes, as well as international and regional security lies through establishment of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones.

Nuclear Safety & Security

Azerbaijan supports nuclear security and safety regimes and initiatives and pays special attention to the international and regional multilateral mechanisms in this area. Azerbaijan is a party to a number of international, regional and bilateral instruments (agreements, conventions and etc.) on nuclear safety and security. At domestic level, in spite of the fact that there are no nuclear installations or facilities in Azerbaijan, except for few applications of ionizing radiation sources for civilian
purposes, country have put in place a robust safety and security mechanisms.

2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, attended by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Ilham Aliyev, provided an ample opportunity to systematize the existing international mechanisms and to reinforce common aspiration to achieve the nuclear security by re-affirming and generating new national commitments on securing all nuclear material, maintaining proper safety and security standards for civilian nuclear facilities, eradicating illicit nuclear trafficking, and preventing terrorists and other non-state actors from access to nuclear material and other radioactive substances.

Regulatory infrastructure

The State Agency on Nuclear and Radiological Activities Regulation (SANRAR) was created in accordance with Presidential Order in 24 April 2008 within the Ministry of Emergency Situations as the only regulatory body, responsible for all practices and activities using ionizing radiation, including medical practices and radioactive waste pre-disposal and disposal operations. The State Agency, as the regulatory body for ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in Azerbaijan, is responsible for drawing up legislative acts and regulations, issuing licenses for all types of practices involving ionizing radiation, and performing radiation safety and inspections. SANRAR oversees the compliance with regulations on radiation safety and physical protection in enterprises and organizations involved in nuclear and radiation activities. 

Radiation protection, control of radiation sources and waste management

Raising radiological safety in accordance with international practices and meeting social requirements and purposes of agriculture, industry and environmental protection are among Azerbaijan’s priorities. To this end the Law on Radiation Safety of the Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan was adopted at the end of 1997. Within the scope of several national and regional TC projects, the Agency has assisted the country in upgrading the radiation protection infrastructure and regaining control over orphan radiation sources. The legal and regulatory framework has been strengthened and firm measures have been taken to ensure full conformity with the International Basic Safety Standards (BSS).

Strengthening the system for radioactive waste management remains a priority issue for the Government. Azerbaijan is undertaking a strict inventory of radioactive wastes arising in industry, medicine and scientific institutions. The issues of collecting, processing, transport and storage of radioactive wastes are being steadily settled. Work has commenced to modernize the existing and to create new repositories for the long-term storage of radioactive materials. In this regard, the
“Izotop” Specialized Industrial Complex is the main enterprise under the Ministry of Emergency Situations responsible for the collection, processing and disposal of radioactive waste. The radiation safety level has significantly improved after the disused radioactive sources were removed from the temporary storages in the storage facility at the Izotop for further conditioning and safe storage.

Combating illicit trafficking

Taking into account proliferation challenges and due to our geographic location, Azerbaijan attaches a particular importance to the prevention of use of our territory as a transit route for nuclear and radioactive material trafficking. In close cooperation with international partners, Azerbaijan developed a strong export control system on the basis of a solid legislation based on high standards. To prevent illegal trafficking in radioactive and nuclear materials Azerbaijan in close cooperation with the Agency has taken a number of measures in recent years to train personnel and to equip its border and customs services with appropriate technology.

The IAEA, within the framework of the Technical Cooperation programme, has provided assistance to Azerbaijan to prevent illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material through its national territory. The eastwest and northsouth routes were selected to begin with and portable radiation control devices were installed at two checkpoints – namely Bara (seaport of Baku) and Astara (border of Azerbaijan and Iran). The mobile expert support group of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Radiation Problems was provided with the necessary equipment and staff training to support two other checkpoints. In February 2007, a joint mission to Azerbaijan by representatives of the IAEA and the European Commission verified the significant improvement in Azerbaijan’s capacities to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material.

Nuclear Sciences and Applications

Azerbaijan attaches special importance to the nuclear science and technologies and Nuclear Science Programme of the IAEA, which contributes in many ways to the health, development and security in countries worldwide. In the healthcare system ensuring progress in the oncology field remains a top priority. In this context measures are taken to upgrade public medicine through the application of radiation with a view, inter alia, to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancers. This programme includes the provision of Government support for the introduction of up-to-date technology and instrumentation, such as linear accelerators (LINACs) for the regional centres. The question of the future introduction of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) as a method of early diagnosis is under discussion by the Ministry of Health.

The establishment of the radiotherapy centre in the Oncology Dispensary in Ganja has increased access to modern radiotherapy services for cancer patients from the East Provinces of Azerbaijan, who can now receive radiotherapy services safely, economically and in accordance with internationally recognized standards. In addition to the new 60Co radiotherapy unit, the quality of the radiotherapy treatment has also been improved with modern treatment planning systems, immobilization equipment and the introduction of new radiotherapy protocols and a quality control/quality assurance programme. Following this successful project, the Government of Azerbaijan is planning to establish several more new radiotherapy centres outside the capital to improve the cancer treatment in Azerbaijan.

Environment

Another priority area for cooperation between Azerbaijan and IAEA is nuclear methods of protection, rehabilitation and monitoring of the environment. Keeping in mind that Azerbaijan borders countries which are operating nuclear power plants, an automated gamma background monitoring network was designed and installed to monitor the radiation background across the country. Radiation control equipment was installed at six meteorological centres and environmental monitoring was initiated under the supervision of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

In support of the goals set by the Government for protecting the environment and improving environmental situation in the country, a number of laws, legal documents and state programmes have been adopted. The Law on Protection of the Environment sets out the legal, economic and social framework for the protection of the environment, including the requirements with respect to radiation sources. The Law on Environmental Safety regulates the relations and obligations of institutions, competent bodies and persons as regards environmental safety. In particular, this law prohibits the import of radioactive waste and spent reactor fuel.

The National Programme on Environmentally Sustainable Socioeconomic Development covers environmental aspects of the country’s overall development strategy. It has determined the main areas of sustainable development and included an Action Plan for 2003–2010 as a first step towards solving the current problems. The action plan identified the types of activity, the main implementing institutions and time frames for addressing a range of issues associated with sustainable development, including environment, industry, agriculture, tourism, education, science and culture. This programme is a national strategy document and serves as guidance for action in the aforementioned areas. Four sector priorities were established: a) Water and sanitation; b) land degradation; c) decentralized energy and d) transport.


Water resources

Water resources are under increased attention of the Government of Azerbaijan. Recognizing that contamination, improper use of waste water and an increasing demand for clean water are becoming crucial factors, and taking into account that the wastewaters from those power plants may end up in the Caspian Sea, the Government of Azerbaijan is conducting a wide-ranging assessment of the status of ground and surface waters of the Araz and Kur rivers and the Caspian Sea and of the impact of contaminants with a view to preserving a clean environment and ensuring proper and safe water supply.

Bearing in mind the environmental problems affecting the coastal area, soil, rivers, lakes, and groundwater in Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea as a consequence of the contamination resulting from different human activities (oil production, use of DDT and other pesticides, heavy metals, industrial and domestic waste water, etc.) a study has been performed under the IAEA programme in the Araz and Kur rivers flowing into the Caspian Sea and in the Azerbaijan part of the Caspian Sea to monitor potential radioactive contamination of the aquatic environment. Results of the sampling campaigns of 2005 and 2006 have been described in two reports (“Radiological Survey of the Araz and Kur Rivers Azerbaijan” and “Investigation of Marine Radioactivity in the Azeri region of the Caspian Sea”).

The Law on Water Supply and Waste Water sets forth the legal framework for the water management sector. It regulates the use of natural water resources and their protection, primarily from contamination (domestic and industrial). 


Technical Cooperation

Azerbaijan supports the Secretariat’s activities in implementing its technical cooperation strategy and in its efforts to ensure that the cooperation programme corresponds to national priorities. Further increasing the effectiveness and level of cooperation is one of the priorities for Azerbaijan’s work with the Agency. The national programme of Azerbaijan within the framework of Technical Cooperation has been developed based on the Country Programme Framework signed in 2003, which identified the priorities of the country in the areas of regulatory and legal infrastructure, human health, radioactive waste management and control of radioactivity in food and environment. 

In this context, the following successful results have been achieved:
• Provision of International Nuclear Information System (INIS) services;
• Establishment of an infrastructure to combat illicit trafficking of radiation and nuclear material;
• Significant increase in the level of radiotherapy and diagnostic capacities and patient cancer treatment;
• Up-do-date instrumentation (hardware and software: MAED, Model for Analysis of Energy Demand; WASP- Wien Automatic System Planning Package; ENPEP-Energy and Power Evaluation Program; and MESSAGE-Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts) introduced for energy planning;
• Modernization of the governmental, legal and regulatory infrastructure for radiation safety; and
• Establishment of a radiation monitoring system.

In 2009–2011 cycle, Azerbaijan continued to focus on strengthening radiation oncology services, conducting a feasibility study for planning and establishing a research reactor, and establishing a secondary standards dosimetry laboratory and a national radiation processing centre for use in health care, agriculture, food processing, cultural studies and science.

Azerbaijan’s 2012–2013 TC programme includes 4 projects which focus on the introduction of cyclotron and positron emission tomography in clinical practice, establishment of laboratories for radiation processing, preparation of the National Radiological Emergency Plan and creation of technology for management of disused radioactive sources. Azerbaijan will also participate in regional projects that are meeting its national priorities.

Currently, the relevant authorities are working on the finalization of the 2013-2017 Country Programme Framework (CPF) in order to identify national development needs and trends, as well as the future priority areas of cooperation within the framework of TC programme.

The successful outcomes in the various parts of the programme give evidence of the Government’s commitment to continue the technical cooperation with the IAEA in areas of importance for national development, to expand the use of nuclear technologies in a broad spectrum of applications, and to ensure safe and secure use of nuclear technologies.






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