Bulgaria has been elected as a member of the IAEA Board of Governors

The 66th Regular Annual Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held in Vienna, Austria rom September 26 to 30, 2022. Of key importance for our country was the election of Bulgaria as a member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA for the period 2022-2024. The General Conference approved the Agency’s budget, resolutions in the field of nuclear safety and security and the IAEA Safeguards System and other important documents for the IAEA’s activities. As head of the Bulgarian delegation during the session Mr. Tsanko Bachiyski presented a national speech on behalf of Bulgaria. In his speech, Mr. Bachiyski emphasized our country’s full support to the internationally recognized safety and security principles and standards in the nuclear sector, developed and approved within the framework of the IAEA. He emphasized the need for strict compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the IAEA safeguards system. Bulgaria is a responsible and constructive partner of the international community in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and supports the efforts of the IAEA to find a harmonized approach to the regulation of new technological solutions in the sector. Outside the plenary sessions, Mr. Bachiyski held bilateral meetings with high-ranking representatives of the IAEA, the European Commission and similar regulatory bodies from other countries. At the meeting with IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Ms. Lydie Evrard issues related to the IAEA’s NHSI (Nuclear Harmonization and Standardization Initiative) aimed at exchanging information and harmonizing regulatory requirements for safety in relation to small modular reactors, and the cooperation between the regulators and the industry in this area were discussed. The holding of a workshop on IAEA safety standards in June 2023 in Bulgaria and an IAEA IRRS mission in October 2024 were also considered. At the joint meeting, together with the heads of the regulators of the EU countries with VVER reactors, with the deputy director of the General Directorate “Energy” of the European Commission Mr. Massimo Garriba, issues on the diversification of nuclear fuel supplies for VVER reactors were discussed. In a separate meeting of Mr. Gariba with the Deputy Minister of Energy Mr. Elenko Bozhkov and the members of the Bulgarian delegation, the implementation of projects within the Kozloduy NPP Units 1-4 Decommissioning Programme was discussed, with a special focus on the project for the rehabilitation of Chaira PSHPP. The implementation of the activities on diversification of supplies of fresh nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy NPP was also considered. At the meeting of Mr. Tsanko Bachiyski with Mr. Daniel H. Dorman, Executive Director of Operations of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, issues on the diversification of fresh nuclear fuel supplies, the US experience in the licensing process for small modular reactors were discussed. The continuation of the terms of validity of the existing Agreement between the two regulatory bodies, signed in 2018, was also considered. In the talks with the President of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Türkiye, Dr. Zafer Demircan, the two sides discussed concrete measures for exchange of experts based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2022. The meeting with the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency the possibilities of expanding the cooperation between the two regulatory bodies within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2018 were discussed. The chairman of the BNRA also participated in the meetings of the Bulgarian delegation with Mr. Anthony Wier, U.S. Department of State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Policy, with representatives of the US industry led by the Dr. Monica Gorman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing of the U.S. Department of Commerce, with the Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic Mr. Tomáš Ehler and with representatives of the French company EDF. At the meetings, Deputy Minister Bozhkov presented the current state of Bulgaria’s nuclear program, and the plans for its development. Issues related to the technologies for small modular reactors being developed by the US and France were also discussed. Issues related to the diversification of nuclear fuel supplies were considered with the US representatives. During the conversation with Framatome, Mr. Bachiyski informed the representatives of the French company with the nuclear fuel licensing procedures for Kozloduy NPP EAD.