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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the nature and extent of international organizations' efforts to strengthen their responses to nuclear emergencies; (2) current efforts of the U.S. government and international organizations to address nuclear safety problems; and (3) efforts to achieve greater international nuclear power plant safety.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State 1. The Secretary of State, in cooperation with IAEA member states, should promote the adoption of uniform and higher levels of safety standards for nuclear power plants. The present international climate may propel IAEA member states into adopting binding standards. The Secretary of State should, therefore, reassess the U.S. position against mandatory compliance with safety standards.
Closed - Not Implemented
The State Department does not agree with the recommendation. Instead, State says it supports the establishment of an international safety convention that would codify the basic elements of an effective nuclear safety regime for parties to the convention. State supports the idea of a convention based on principles rather than standards. GAO followed up on the approach. In a May 14, 1993 report (GAO/RCED-93-153), GAO reported on progress toward reaching agreement on an international convention to improve nuclear reactor safety. A preliminary draft of the convention has been developed but discussions are continuing, and when the final convention text will be completed and presented to international atomic energy agency member states for signature is uncertain.
Department of State 2. The Secretary of State should propose to other IAEA member states that: (1) IAEA be given more discretion in selecting reactors for review under the OSART program; (2) more of those reviews be made; and (3) IAEA routinely follow up on its operational safety review recommendations to ascertain if they have been implemented.
Closed - Not Implemented
State does not support granting the IAEA authority to choose the reactors it will review or the review frequency. Regarding routine followup on IAEA operational safety review recommendations, State supports followup and says it has encouraged IAEA to do so. GAO disagrees and continues to believe that IAEA should schedule safety reviews that address the most unsafe nuclear power plants. While State has not officially approached IAEA concerning this recommendation, IAEA has undertaken more OSART reviews and is routinely following up on OSART recommendations to ascertain if they have been implemented. GAO continues to believe that IAEA should conduct OSART reviews for the most unsafe nuclear power plants. In a GAO report on IAEA to be issued shortly, GAO reaffirmed the need for IAEA to perform OSART reviews for those nuclear plants operating unsafely.

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