Governmental and regulatory infrastructures have to a large extent developed in parallel with national nuclear power programmes, certainly in Western Europe, US and Japan. The independence of regulatory bodies from the organs of government or private industry promoting nuclear power is an important requisite that is now generally internationally accepted. Countries in former Eastern Europe have made significant progress in establish their own independent regulatory bodies, during the 1990s, having previously relied on the centralised systems of the former Soviet Union.

IAEA Basic Safety Standards were established in the mid-1990s to ensure the safety of all applications of nuclear technology, particularly industrial and medical applications. In some countries, these had developed without adequate infrastructures to ensure the safety of these applications (IAEA/NSR/2002, 2003).

As stated in the IAEA principles earlier, one of the tenets for a strong independent regulator is the availability of an adequate pool of qualified staff. As noted in Chapter 2 with declining nuclear programmes in some countries, there are fewer qualified engineers available to regulatory bodies who frequently seek engineers who have acquired on-site experience in industry.

To meet these requirements, the IAEA has instigated various education and training programmes. These aim to promote self-sustaining capabilities in the member states, at all levels, national and regional. These include programmes to train trainers, disseminate materials and harmonise on-the-job training programmes. They are also establishing centres for education and training, centre networks and exploiting modern technology for distance learning and e-learning.

There is a large amount of information available on the safety and operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs), which has not been fully disseminated worldwide. Networks are being developed to share this information and provide a means of mutual sharing of information. International bodies including (e. g. IAEA, EC, CSNI) act as facilitators in various ways with regard to sharing this information.

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