As agreed in international conventions, all countries are responsible for their own radioactive wastes. This does not exclude centralizing activities (such as waste conditioning) or facilities (for storage or disposal) in specific countries.
No country should transfer radioactive wastes to another unless it is assured that the organizational and technical requirements for safe management of these wastes are adequate in the importing country. No potential host country can be compelled to accept foreign wastes from others.
International repositories in willing host countries can have economic, environmental, safety, and security advantages. There are, nevertheless, very divergent views on the political feasibility of implementing such facilities in the near future. On the other hand, it is widely accepted that international or regional repositories must eventually become a reality.
International initiatives should recognize the sensitivities of national programs and make efforts not to harm these programs. In particular, international siting programs should not be presented as a search for the safest sites or interpreted as disqualifying national sites. Conversely, national programs should not, for parochial reasons, encourage a negative view of international concepts. Taking strong positions against international proposals for short-term objectives may make matters difficult for small countries in the future and can work against global environmental and economic optimization.
In summary, international cooperation in radioactive waste management has two rather contradictory aspects. On one hand, the high public and political profile of all radioactive waste issues in most countries has encouraged intensive collaboration to try to solve common problems facing countries intent on fulfilling their responsibilities for managing their wastes. This is clearly demonstrated by numerous bi- and multilateral projects and by the strong support for the efforts of international organizations. On the other hand, the sensitivity of radioactive waste issues has slowed progress toward common solutions based on shared facilities for storage or disposal. The committee believes that technical cooperation has helped national programs move ahead, that collaboration could be intensified more in both the technical and the social sciences, and that both national and international storage and disposal facilities will be needed in the future.