National Progress Report: Georgia

Since the Nuclear Security Summit of 2014, Georgia has successfully continued to reinforce the implementation of nuclear security, and has lent substantial support to the build-up of the global security architecture by accomplishing relevant tasks in the following areas:

Strengthening Nuclear and Radioactive Material Security

1.    Georgia takes active steps to bolster its nuclear security regime. New amendments to the Law “On Nuclear and Radiation Safety” - that also envelop security tasks - were elaborated and adopted. These amendments consider the implementation of a new reform – namely, the Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety under the Georgian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection was transferred to the Legal Entity of Public Law, The Agency of Nuclear and Radiation Safety (ANRS). The Regulatory Authority (RA) rights along with certain responsibilities to support the state’s nuclear security regime were also transferred from the Department to ANRS. This move increased RA’s effectiveness, independence, and efficiency to make decisions, including those related to nuclear security matters.

2.    As a part of the reform, the Department for Radioactive Waste Management was created under the ANRS. The Department was assigned a task of operating the radioactive waste centralized storage and disposal facilities to ensure the waste safety and security, including the disused radioactive sources, which reinforced the state system for control of radioactive waste A new Law “On Radioactive Waste” was adopted to put in place legal requirements for handling waste. The adopted legal instruments provide a clear distinction between the functions of the ANRS and the Department for Radioactive Waste Management

3.    The Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan (INSSP) for the period of 2015-2019 was elaborated with the immediate support rendered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The plan was adopted by the Georgian government. The INSSP defines key activities that are essential for setting up a comprehensive nuclear security regime in the country, and for responsible Georgian state bodies to fulfill them. All those activities are divided into five functional areas with assigned objectives. The time table for the completion of each of those activities is fixed.

4.    Georgia had already formalized the Association Agreement with the European Union. According the Agreement’s Article 298, Paragraph “K” (Title VI Other Cooperation Polices), cooperation in the area of nuclear security may be pursued in accordance with the principles and standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as relevant international treaties and conventions concluded within the framework of the IAEA and, where applicable, in compliance with the Euratom Treaty.

5.    The CSF security system – a special facility, where a number of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources (DSRS) is stored (including recovered DSRS found as orphan radioactive sources) - was upgraded based on the program support provided by the U.S. Department of Energy own National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Radiological Security.

6.    The security system for radioactive waste disposal site was upgraded with the support of the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and that of IAEA.

7.    The security entrance checkpoint at the Applied Research Center of the Institute of Physics was upgraded with the support of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.

8.    Georgia has established and currently operates the special inventory for the sources of ionization radiation and associated facilities. The inventory contains detailed information on any activities related to the source, including the tracking history, inspection and enforcement data. Moreover, the legal requirements are established to provide the inventory sustainability.

9.    Georgia had adopted the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Threat Reduction Strategy along with the action plan for its implementation (CBRN NAP) for the period of 2015-2019. The plan includes the activities in R&N fields, including those related to nuclear security, and citations of timeframes and responsible agencies.

10. The training for Georgian specialists in the field of nuclear and radioactive materials transportation security was provided with the U.S. support.

11. The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) operates training centers (a police academy, a border police training center, an emergency management training center) for human resources development in CBRN, border security, counter-smuggling, emergency response, management, and other spheres related to the nuclear security of the state. These centers primarily serve the MoIA personnel.

12. The new law “On Radioactive Waste” sets requirements for elaboration of the radioactive waste management strategy for a 15-year period and an action plan for its practical implementation. The strategy and the action plan also envelop handling with DSRS and accounting for the tasks of physical protection. The elaboration of the documents has commenced in collaboration with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. The working plan and working groups have already been established for this purpose.

13. Georgia has made significant efforts to improve its regulatory framework to also encase nuclear security issues. A new regulation for physical protection is currently being elaborated. The licensee is obliged to set forth and implement the physical protection plan. The requirements for inspection and enforcement activities have already been elaborated and implemented.

Comment: The implementation of the INSSP and related plans are directed to establish all 12 elements of a state nuclear security regime. Additional support is welcome, especially for the aim of developing a nuclear forensic capability.

Minimizing Nuclear and Other Radioactive Materials

1.    Georgia operated only one nuclear research reactor, which was shut down in 1989. The spent and fresh fuel was exported from Georgia in mid-1990s. The decommissioning of the reactor and its auxiliary systems is ongoing. The last nuclear installation known as the “Breeder-1” was situated in the Institute of Physics. The installation, containing 1833 grams of the 36%-enriched Uranium and the Pu-Be radioactive source, was used for the neutron-activation analysis. Due to some technical reasons, the installation became non-operable. Georgia fully complies with the existing international standards and requirements for non-proliferation and for safeguarding the nuclear security regime. Therefore, according to the statement of The Hague Nuclear Security Summit Communiqué, the decision was made to repatriate the nuclear fuel to the country of origin. The plan for decommissioning the installation and for the repatriation activities was developed in close collaboration with IAEA and U.S. experts. The plan was reviewed and adopted by the Georgian Regulatory Authority.. All operations, including the HEU repatriation were supported by the RRRFR program. As a result, Georgia is no longer in possession of a significant amount of HEU.

2.    Georgia applies a respective strategy to fully minimize the number of DSRS and unused nuclear materials that do not require additional resources for safe storage and physical protection. Every license applicant must demonstrate and guarantee that all radioactive sources imported by him will be repatriated to the country of their origin following their respective utilization. The requirement are set forth for reducing a number of DSRS and using the existing resources more effectively to provide physical protection of the already existent DSRS.

Countering Nuclear Smuggling

1.    In a formal letter addressed to the IAEA Director General, Georgia expressed its full support for the principles laid out by the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its supplementary Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources. In reality, Georgia conducts a stricter control compared to the existing standards, and the utilization as well as the exports and imports of all five categories of radioactive sources are subject to strict authorization.

2.    In cooperation with the EC, the Nuclear Forensics Laboratory in the Crime Forensics Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was provided a modernized equipment to conduct nuclear forensic investigations. This activity represents a yet another step towards attaining the highest standards in nuclear forensics and the starting point for launching effective worldwide communication with nuclear material libraries.

3.    To enhance the process of control over military and dual use commodities - and in addition to the law “On Control of Military and Dual Use Commodities” - the Government of Georgia issued special decrees in 2014 that define the list of military and dual use commodities and control measures.

4.    Georgia conducts a robust control over the export and import of nuclear and radioactive materials. The control system includes:

  • Legal issues pertaining to the export and import of all five categories of sources that require the issuance of special permits;
  • Technical issues pertaining to the movement of nuclear and radioactive materials through Georgian borders controlled by special portable radiation monitors and hand detectors;
  • Administrative issues pertaining to special response actions through which responsible state bodies are defined for the alert cases on the borders.

To enhance Georgia’s border control, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has elaborated a 5- year Program for Modernization, Standardization and Unification of Georgian Border Police, which was adopted upon the Ministerial Order 404 on 8 June 2015. To improve the intelligence-led planning in the Border Management, a Concept of the Unified System of Analysis on Risks and Threats on the State Border of Georgia was approved by the Ministerial Order 92 on 31 January 2015.

5.    To increase the response effectiveness against the illegal movement of nuclear and radioactive materials, the legal act titled “The Procedure for Responding to the Illegal Trafficking of Nuclear and Radioactive Substances” was adopted.

6.    Sweden is committed for further work in the area reducing the risk or likelihood of smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials in the years come. Sweden plans to organize a conference in Tbilisi, Georgia together with partners of Georgia, USA and Poland for states of the wider Black Sea region on implementationof Nuclear Security Summit’s commitments and objectives

7.    In 2015 and 2016, two cases of illegal turnover of radioactive sources (Cesium-135 and Cesium-137) were detected. In total 8 people were held liable.

Supporting Multilateral Instruments

1.    Georgia supports the existing global nuclear security regime by implementing its requirements at the national level and demonstrating its commitment to the international legal instruments: Georgia is a party to the Convention on Physical Protection (CPPNM), its amendment (CPPNME) and Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT). The country is a signatory to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and fully implements UN Security Resolution 1540. Georgia is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The country actively participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).

2. The Tbilisi Regional Secretariat of the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centers of Excellence (CoE) Initiative uniting 9 states – namely, Albania, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine - has been successfully functioning since 2013. The secretariat was established through joint efforts by the Georgian Government, the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and is hosted by the MoIA Academy.

3. The Georgian Government, together with the Governments of Philippines and Morocco, initiated the establishment of the UN Group of Friends on the CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security Governance. The first meeting of the GoF, chaired by Georgia’s Permanent Representative, was held at the UN headquarters on 8 December 2015 and was attended by the representatives of 27 UN member states. 

4. Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially addressed the Japanese Government for country’s membership in the G-7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

Comment: According to INSSP, the following activities are planned for multilateral instruments:

  • Accession to the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency (ASSIST)
  • Signing up to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA (P&I)
  • Joining and adhering to the obligations of States Parties in the 2005 Protocol to the 1988 SUA Convention 

Collaboration with International Organizations

1. Georgia obtains IAEA assistance in various fields related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and contributes to several technical meetings by providing expertise for the drafting of the IAEA nuclear security series and other related documents.

2.     Georgia carries on its cooperation with the IAEA through implementing a national Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan (INSSP), which functions as a roadmap for achieving the highest level of state nuclear security.

3.     Georgia actively cooperates with the IAEA ITDB (Illicit Trafficking Data Base) office by exchanging the relevant information. Cooperation with this international mechanism for global information flow helps Georgian authorities analyze more effectively the trends in worldwide nuclear smuggling. This, by itself, retains great importance for the relevant state agencies as they plan and execute counter-smuggling activities. The ANRS, acting as a focal point for the IAEA ITDB, cooperates with the state law enforcement agencies in this regard.

4.     The ANRS acts as a National Competent Authority (NCA) for the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and provides the IAEA through the USIE system notifications information on nuclear incidents, and also has access to the information provided by other countries. The established information exchange helps maintain confidence among the countries and define possible risks and support from other countries.

5.     The IAEA conventional exercises are conducted on a regular basis within the frames of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident. These exercises enhance the capabilities of the Georgian team to respond and harmonize its activity with international experts.

6.     The IAEA provides through various projects support to Georgia in developing its national framework for nuclear and radiation safety and security. The technical collaboration is based on the Country Program Framework (CPF), which was officially adopted for the period of 2015-2019. Such support is usually provided through a) the knowledge and experience sharing; b) equipment supply; c) experts support; and d) elaboration and implementation of programs and activity plans.

7.     Georgia actively collaborates with the IAEA-supported International Network for Nuclear Security Training and Support Centers (NSSC) to define the needs and goals for trainings in the field of nuclear security.

8.     Georgia is an active user of the IAEA Nuclear Security Information Portal (NUSEC). This information sharing system helps Georgia systemize the information pertinent to its nuclear security regime as well as identify ways for effective implementation of the requirements for Nuclear Security Integrated Management System (NUSIMS).

9.     Georgia conducted the installation of several radiation portal monitors as a first step of collaboration with the EU in the field of nuclear security. The EU also provided nuclear forensic equipment to MoIA’s own criminalistics laboratory. The EU, through the initiation of the Center of Excellence, supports the regional activity aimed at strengthening the CBRN first response capabilities and regional cooperation in South East Europe, Southern Caucasus, Moldova and Ukraine. Another EU project to upgrade research capabilities to support the nuclear security regime is underway. 

Partnering with external Stakeholders

1.     Based on the support provided by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Georgia created and sustained the inventory of the sources of ionization radiation and related activities. The RIS computer program is used for this purpose.

2.     Georgia actively implements tasks and projects detailed in the Joint Document of U.S. and Georgian Delegations on Georgia’s Priority Needs to Improve Its Capabilities to Combat Nuclear Smuggling formalized on 2 February 2007 and amended in 2009. Various projects related to the agreement, which was funded by the U.S. DoE, the U.S. DoD, the U.S. DoS, US DTRA, EU and UK. These include strengthening Georgia’s nuclear RA (RA has been provided with equipment, vehicles, communication and office commodities); increasing patrols of green borders; supporting Georgian border police aviation; equipping mobile radiation detection patrols; sponsoring international cooperation in nuclear forensics; developing a joint maritime coordination center; and supporting maritime patrols of the coast guard.

3.     The implemented agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources on cooperation to enhance the security of Georgia’s radioactive sources was signed in September 2011. Under this agreement, Georgia continues cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy to enhance the security level and physical protection infrastructure for high-activity radiation sources. By the implemented agreement, nearly all disused high activity radiation sources have been consolidated and transported to the CSF, and the latter’s physical protection system was upgraded. The upgraded system was also installed on relevant other facilities. The installed equipment is covered by a long-term – namely, a three year-long - U.S. DoE warranty that includes maintenance.

4.     Georgia collaborates with the U.S. Department of State’s EXBS (Export Control and Border Security) program and receives assistance in human resource development and capacity building in this sphere. The EXBS program has initiated and funded a Joint Maritime Operations Center in located Supsa, western Georgia (Black Sea coast). The Center can, headed by the Border Police, hosts various agencies such as MFA, Customs, Patrol Police, MoIA’s Anti-Terrorist Center, and MOD. The purpose of the Center is to exchange intelligence information between the agencies to adequately address maritime threats and challenges.

5.     The U.S. DoE’s own NNSA supports training for the physical protection of personnel serving in the facilities with high-activity radiation sources and control of dual use commodities.

6.     The assistance provided by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) encompasses various issues. The SSM supports participation of Georgian experts in a range of meetings. The SSM supported the regional office of Georgian RA, especially in terms of responding to illicit trafficking. The SSM participated in the upgrading of physical protection of the Applied Research Center of the Institute of Physics. The most recent important contribution by the SSM was its support thrown behind the elaboration of the national strategy for radioactive waste management, including the related security issues, for the next 15-year period.