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Joint Convention background

The Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the first legal instrument to directly address these issues on a global scale, was opened for signature on 29 September 1997, the first day of the 41st regular session of the IAEA’s General Conference.

The Joint Convention applies to spent fuel and radioactive waste resulting from civilian nuclear reactors and applications and to spent fuel and radioactive waste from military or defense programmes if and when such materials are transferred permanently to and managed within exclusively civilian programmes, or when declared as spent fuel or radioactive waste for the purpose of the Convention by the Contracting Party. The Convention also applies to planned and controlled releases into the environment of liquid or gaseous radioactive materials from regulated nuclear facilities.

The obligations of the Contracting Parties with respect to the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management are based to a large extent on the principles contained in the IAEA Safety Fundamentals document "The Principles of Radioactive Waste Management", published in 1995. They include, in particular, the obligation to establish and maintain a legislative and regulatory framework to govern the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management and the obligation to ensure that individuals, society and the environment are adequately protected against radiological and other hazards, inter alia, by appropriate siting, design and construction of facilities and by making provisions for ensuring the safety of facilities both during their operation and after their closure. The Convention imposes obligations on Contracting Parties in relation to the transboundary movement of spent fuel and radioactive waste based on the concepts contained in the IAEA Code of Practice on the International Transboundary Movement of Radioactive Waste. Also, Contracting Parties have the obligation to take appropriate steps to ensure that disused sealed sources are managed safely.

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| Last update: Wednesday, 22 April, 2015.