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Sovereign missions

​Since its creation in 1945, The CEA has been entrusted with sovereign missions concerning the uses of nuclear energy. It contributes to the French Government’s strategic decision-making capacity. It brings its expertise to bear in the drafting and implementation of government policy for international nuclear cooperation (foreign nuclear policy) and national initiatives for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and associated sensitive technologies. It represents France within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Atomic energy Community (Euratom), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA).

Published on 6 July 2016

The different sovereign missions:

  • The CEA Chairman is a member of the Nuclear Policy Council chaired by the President of the Republic. The nuclear policy council defines the leading orientations of national nuclear policy and ensures that they are implemented, in particular with regard to exports and international cooperation, industrial policy, energy, research, safety, security and environmental protection policies.

  • The CEA Head of International Relations is the Governor for France in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The CEA thus plays an essential role in drafting and defending France’s positions with the Agency and in coordinating the participation by French entities in the activities of the IAEA. Through its expertise, financing and training contributions, CEA supports IAEA in its actions to assist States wishing to acquire nuclear power generating capacity, by helping them to develop the infrastructures necessary for the use of nuclear energy in the best conditions of safety, security, non-proliferation and environmental protection. The CEA also supports the technical cooperation and nuclear applications promotion programmes. It also takes part in IAEA activities in the field of nuclear safety and security: monitoring of international conventions on the use of nuclear energy, drafting of nuclear safety standards and nuclear security recommendations, implementation of the IAEA action plan on nuclear safety, adopted in September 2011 in particular to learn the lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

  • The Head of International Relations at CEA is also Vice-president of the office of the Steering Committee of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and heads the French delegation at the six-monthly meetings of this Committee.
    Jointly with the General Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE), the CEA’s role is therefore to coordinate the consolidation of French positions on subjects regarding NEA governance and it contributes to facilitating exchanges of information between the French representatives on the seven technical committees of this body (nuclear sciences, regulatory nuclear activities, facilities safety, radiological protection and public health, radioactive waste management, technical and economic studies on the development of nuclear energy and the fuel cycle, nuclear law).

  • The CEA International Relations Division acts as secretary for the Euratom Technical Committee (CTE) reporting to the Prime Minister. The CTE supports the General Secretariat for European Affairs regarding questions concerning the application of the Euratom treaty instituting the European Atomic Energy Community. It prepares the French positions and provides technical coordination for implementing the provisions of the treaty. It monitors implementation of the international undertakings made by France in the nuclear field, under agreements on the supply of nuclear material, equipment or technologies, to ensure peaceful uses of nuclear energy and monitors the performance of international checks on nuclear material carried out in France by the European Commission under Chapter VII of the Euratom treaty and by IA, under the agreement between France, the European Atomic Energy Community and IEA concerning the application of safeguards in France. It also prepares the declarations to be submitted to IAEA and manages complementary access on French territory under the additional protocol to the above-mentioned Safeguards protocol. Within the framework of its missions, the CTE is the point of contact for the European Commission and IAEA. Finally, the CTE issues permits for the transfer of nuclear material form an activity subject to Euratom security controls to one that is not subject to this control, and vice-versa.

  • In close liaison with the Ministry for foreign affairs, the CEA International Relations Division manages a network of nuclear advisers within France’s embassies abroad, who provide local support for France’s foreign policy in the fields of nuclear and renewable energies, acting as the interface between the key players in the host countries and their French counterparts: politicians, administrations, industry and research organisations. This network is a valuable tool for understanding and exerting influence and is deployed in the major nuclear countries and in countries with significant growth and development based demand.

Network of the CEA's nuclear advisers in the world
Network of nuclear advisers in the World © CEA

  • The CEA takes part in defining French positions concerning non-proliferation and monitoring the review cycles for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (TNP).
  • The CEA took part in negotiating and defining the International Monitoring System for the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It is responsible for setting up and operating 16 monitoring stations on French soil and is building 8 other stations internationally.
  • The CEA takes part in drawing up France’s position and monitoring negotiations within the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which brings together 46 States and the aim of which is to contribute to non-proliferation through the implementation of directives on the export of nuclear goods and technologies.