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International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and other IAEA officials have signed several agreements at the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), during Grossi’s first official visit to China. Grossi met with several high-level officials and visited nuclear facilities and institutions in Beijing, Shanghai and Shandong.

“China is one of the IAEA’s most important partners and a global leader in nuclear energy,” he said, noting the remarkable progress of China’s nuclear energy programme. The talks covered cooperation in nuclear applications and indispensable exchanges on non-proliferation and nuclear safety. China has more than 50 operational nuclear power units with 24 more under construction. By 2035, China’s nuclear power generation will account for 10% of its electricity generation, according to the latest Blue Book of China Nuclear Energy Development Report.

The agreements signed with CAEA seek to strengthen cooperation on small modular reactors, nuclear fusion, nuclear data, fuel cycle & waste management, as well as communication activities. An agreement was also signed in support of Rays of Hope, the IAEA initiative to promote cancer care by improving availability of radiotherapy services, medical imaging and nuclear medicine.

“I thank CAEA Chairman Zhang Kejian for the wide-ranging and open exchange on all areas of our rich bilateral agenda, from China’s nuclear energy programme to technical cooperation, non-proliferation and nuclear safety and security,” Grossi said.

China, a member of the IAEA since 1984, is involved in 93 IAEA technical cooperation projects spanning national, regional and interregional activities as well as 49 coordinated research projects. During the visit, Grossi designated China’s Nuclear & Radiation Safety Centre as an IAEA Collaborating Centre. China already hosts t two other IAEA Collaborating Centres: the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences (CAAS) for research, development & capacity building of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture, and the CAEA for research, development, testing & training on nuclear security detection and physical protection technologies.

Grossi visited China’s State Nuclear Security Technology Centre accompanied by Liu Jing, Deputy Director of the CAEA. “Nuclear security is an essential component for the successful development of nuclear energy. China’s State Nuclear Security Technology Centre and the IAEA will further strengthen our collaboration, in particular with IAEA’s nuclear security centre in Seibersdorf,” Grossi said. The Centre is part of the International Network for Nuclear Security Training and Support Centres (NSSC Network), which is coordinated by the IAEA and plays a key role in international cooperation and the sharing of best practices in nuclear security.

At the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), the main research institute of the China National Nuclear Corporation, Grossi met with researchers and discussed the role of nuclear technology to address current challenges. “CIAE showcases impressive developments of nuclear technology in China, including the advanced research reactor and proton cyclotron,” he noted.

Talks were also held with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Ecology & Environment, and the China International Development Cooperation Agency. Grossi also visited Tsinghua University, Peking Union Medical College Hospital and the Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Plant, among other nuclear facilities and institutions.

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang during talks with Grossi, urged the IAEA to perform its duties in an objective, fair and professional manner. He said he hoped IAEA would properly handle the nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia as well as the Japan's plans to dispose of treated nuclear-contaminated water to the sea, according to Chinese media.

Qin called on the IAEA to resolutely resist actions stretching national security and interfering with and undermining the normal order of international cooperation. He stressed that China follows a self-defensive nuclear strategy and is firmly committed to safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation system with the on the Non-Proliferation Treaty as its cornerstone.

Qin told Grossi that China's cooperation with the IAEA has solid foundation and good prospects He said China supported the IAEA’s playing a greater role in global governance in the nuclear field and making new contributions to reform and improve the global nuclear governance system.

Grossi in turn said the Agency is willing to deepen cooperation with China and is committed to preventing nuclear proliferation, respecting member states' decisions, and will remain neutral and conduct relevant consultations on US-UK-Australia nuclear submarine cooperation in a transparent manner. He also made it clear that the IAEA will not endorse any country's decision to dump nuclear-contaminated water into the sea and will not agree to any activities that violate international safety standards.

Image: IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, and other IAEA officials signed several agreements at the China Atomic Energy Authority during Grossi’s first official visit to China, which reflect the diverse scope of work between the IAEA and China (courtesy of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Date: Friday, 26 May 2023
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