Iranian officials and a visiting European Union (EU) delegation headed by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini on 16 April signed various memoranda of understanding for cooperation on research. Iran’s participation in the EU Horizon 2020 framework programme was also discussed, Iranian media reported. The European commission, and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) issued a joint statement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy which would include establishment of a regular high-level dialogue meeting once a year (the Framework for Partnership on Nuclear Energy) to review topics of common interest in the nuclear field.

Partnership activities should cover: nuclear safety; radiation protection; emergency preparedness & response; waste and used fuel management; nuclear research & development; and non-power applications of nuclear energy. Working groups and expert groups could be established as necessary and meetings held as frequently and for as long as necessary to effectively implement the partnership activities.

The statement said: "It is the intention of the two sides to launch the first activities during 2016 under the instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation with the funding from the EU of the project ‘Enhancing the capabilities of Iran regulatory Authority (INRA)’. The project addresses:

  • Cooperation on the stress test process for existing and planned nuclear power stations in support of the operator of the nuclear power stations and of the regulatory authority;
  • Feasibility study for establishing a safety centre in Iran;
  • Support to the Iran Nuclear Regulatory Authority (INRA) to jointly review Iran’s regulatory framework, taking into account the lessons learnt from Fukushima Daichii accident, and enhance the INRA’s technical capacity and organization;
  • The provision of training and tutoring to nuclear safety professionals;
  • Assistance and collaboration in outreach activities, in particular supporting the organization of an international conference on nuclear safety, possibly in Iran.

The two sides also intend to work together to develop:

  • Support for Iran’s access to, and exchange of experience on, the principal international legal instruments and conventions governing nuclear safety and security, waste and spent fuel management, and nuclear physical protection;
  • Exchange of experiences for the prevention of, and preparedness and response for, emergencies with radiological consequences;
  • Exchange of experience with Iran from European nuclear safety regulators and European technical support organizations;
  • Cooperation in training and skills development, including hosting Iranian research staff at EU research facilities;
  • Facilitating Iranian participation and involvement in fission and fusion research actions under Euratom Framework Research Programme 2014-2018 including bilateral cooperation with Joint research Centres as well as examining the deepening of cooperation with the ITER project to construct a demonstration fusion power reactor;
  • Promotion of ties between industrial actors.

Following the talks, AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Tehran and the European Union could now launch a joint venture at the Fordo uranium enrichment plant in Central Iran. "We have held good talks with the EU delegation on nuclear cooperation which can start from the Fordo site," he said. He added that Tehran and the EU have decided to set up an advanced nuclear centre in Iran to provide the country and neighbours with related services.

Earlier, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi noted that in the wake of the nuclear deal between Iran and the international community (the US, China, Russia, France and the UK plus Germany), "Cooperation (with other countries) has started in practice and we have exchanged delegations with the EU, China, South Korea, Japan, the far East and countries which enjoy nuclear technology, whose number is not so high; we will interact with all of them." Kamalvandi also announced that Iran is holding talks with different foreign states to construct more NPPs. "The AEOI has presented a 15-year plan for research and development (R&D) and enrichment to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and we want to reach the stage to build at least one NPP every 15 years," he said.

"After this stage, we will have a better opportunity in different fields, including increasing the number of power plants, and we are in talks with different countries to attain this goal," Kamalvandi added.

Last year, Salehi announced that Iran is compiling a 15-year plan to further expand its peaceful nuclear know-how and capabilities, which would be reviewed every five years. "One of our plans is to move on the path of commercialization and we hope to gain success in this arena," he said. He announced plans to construct a nuclear hospital and two small nuclear plants in the Southern province of Bushehr to desalinate water. Also last year, President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran would commercialize nuclear technology as soon as the nuclear agreement comes into effect.