Russian Diplomacy at the Vienna Platform: Peculiarities of Multilateral Interaction
Five working days of a group of young specialists in the field of non-proliferation, arms control and international security from Russia.
From November 6 to 10, a group of young Russian specialists engaged in arms control, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of atomic energy visited Vienna, where they learned about the work of international organizations, specialized UN institutions and NGOs involved in nuclear issues, as well as the basics of Russian diplomacy at the Vienna platform.
The visit was organized by the Primakov Center for Foreign Policy Cooperation and the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) with the support of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna.

Read the material for what the participants of the program visited and learned about.
Day 1. IAEA
On the first day, young researchers from Russia visited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Alexander Bychkov, Senior Expert in the INPRO Section and former IAEA Deputy Director General, and Vladimir Artisyuk, Senior Expert in the Nuclear Energy Technology Section, met them at the agency’s Department of Nuclear Energy and told them about the agency’s main activities

During the meeting, participants learned about the IAEA’s program to assist so-called newcomer countries, including through a comprehensive review of states' nuclear infrastructure and targeted support in the form of technical advice and training programs.
Thus, after 10 years of work with the agency, Belarus and the UAE have started using nuclear energy. Bangladesh, Egypt and Turkey are currently at the stage of constructing nuclear reactors.
The experts also focused on the small modular reactor (SMR) market, which is becoming increasingly attractive to countries around the world, as well as the use of nuclear power as one of the solutions to promote sustainable development and mitigate climate change.
This was followed by a meeting at the IAEA Department of Safeguards, where Alexey Anichenko, Director of the Technical and Scientific Services Division at the Department, introduced the young researchers to the basics of the Agency’s safeguards system, including its technical component. The program participants were also shown the equipment used by IAEA inspectors during inspections and monitoring of nuclear facilities.

At the end of the working day, the program participants met the Director General of the Agency, Rafael Grossi. The head of the IAEA Secretariat learned about each individual’s scientific interests in nonproliferation and answered all the questions.
Day 2. Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna and the CTBTO Preparatory Commission
The young researchers began the next working day at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna. The visit started with a talk to the Permanent Representative, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Mikhail Ulyanov. He welcomed the program participants, spoke about the work of the Permanent Mission in Vienna and how Russian diplomacy responds to current geopolitical challenges in the context of international tensions, and answered questions.

This was followed by a series of thematic briefings by Russian diplomats working in the Permanent Mission, which covered a wide range of topics, including the peaceful and military uses of outer space, features of the CTBT, nuclear security issues, and digital diplomacy tools.

Deputy Permanent Representative Sergey Federiakov shared Russia’s experience of working at the UN Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Emilia Sidorova, Senior Counselor at the Permanent Mission, spoke in detail about the CTBT’s peculiarities, its differences from the nuclear test limitation treaties that preceded it, and also focused on the current state of affairs surrounding it: despite the fact that the CTBT is almost approaching the status of a universal treaty, it has not yet entered into force. In the context of Russia’s recent withdrawal of ratification of the CTBT, the expert outlined the reasons that forced this step and explained what it means for Russia as a state party to the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO and as the holder of the second largest segment of the International Monitoring System.

For his part, Evgeny Shamin, Counselor to the Permanent Mission and representative of Rosatom, spoke about the specifics of the implementation of IAEA safeguards, noting that over the past few years this issue has become political rather than a purely technical one, as it used to be. At the end of the meeting, Third Secretary Ekaterina Blagodarina touched on ensuring nuclear and physical nuclear safety of facilities.

In the afternoon, a visit to#nbsp;the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom) took place. The participants were welcomed by#nbsp;the organization’s Executive Secretary Robert Floyd, who noted the CTBTO PrepCom’s commitment to its primary goal of signing and ratifying the treaty by States that have not yet done so. Four new countries are expected to join the CTBT by the end of the year, he said.

During the visit, the participants also visited the operations center of the CTBTO PrepCom International Data Center, where they were interviewed by#nbsp;Alexander Sudakov, Head of the Geophysical Data Analysis Section.

At the end of the day, the Russian researchers took part in a discussion with IAEA Secretariat staff and current Agency inspectors on the specifics of working in international organizations.
Day 3. CTBTO PrepCom and IAEA Analytical Laboratories
The third working day of the program was held in Seibersdorf, located 35 km southeast of Vienna. It is home to the CTBTO PrepCom Training and Technology Support Center and the IAEA analytical laboratories, where the young researchers were scheduled to pay a visit.

First, a visit was made to the IAEA Department of Safeguards laboratories. The Head of the IAEA Safeguards Analytical Laboratory Division, Veena Tikare, briefed the project participants on the laboratory’s activities and showed them the way environmental samples submitted by the agency’s inspectors are analyzed. It is noteworthy that the analysis is conducted on a confidential basis and several laboratories are engaged. During the presentation, the expert noted the importance of inspecting samples to detect illicit diversion of nuclear materials.

The participants were then introduced to the work of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory, the Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory, the Animal Production and Sanitation Laboratory, and the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory.

The young professionals learned that the IAEA Environmental Sample Laboratory examines more than 100 samples each year using a multi-stage examination format, including highly sensitive techniques capable of detecting traces of the uranium enrichment process. Participants were familiarized with similar activities during a visit to the Nuclear Materials Laboratory, which examines samples for traces of uranium and plutonium.

After the IAEA laboratories tour, the researchers participated in a discussion on Russia’s role in resolving the situation around Iran’s nuclear program.
Day 4. UN Agencies: Office for Disarmament Affairs and Outer Space Affairs
On this day the participants of the program were organized to visit specialized UN agencies located in Vienna. Thus, during they stay at the Office for Disarmament Affairs the young specialists were addressed by#nbsp;Rebecca Jovin, Director of the Vienna Office of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), who spoke in detail about the main areas of work of the organization.

In the afternoon, participants visited the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

During the visit to UNOOSA, the experts shared an important observation about the lack of consensus on the altitude to call it outer space — a number of experts note an altitude of 100 kilometers, others less, but one way or another there is still no clear definition enshrined in the regulatory framework. The history of UNOOSA dates back to the establishment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 1958, which transformed into the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs in 1992 and moved to Vienna a year later.
The main areas of work of UNOOSA are promoting international cooperation, ensuring a sustainable space environment, enhancing the safety of space activities, and increasing access to the benefits of space applications.

The day concluded with a round table discussion entitled Is the Vienna Spirit Still Here? attended by participation of leading experts.

The participants were addressed by Tariq Rauf, Independent Consultant, Verification and Security Policy Coordinator, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, 2002−2011), Deputy Head of the IAEA Delegation to#nbsp;the NPT Review Conferences (2003−2011), Laura Rockwood, Senior Independent Researcher, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Studies, Head of the IAEA Legal Office Division (1985−2013), as well as Thomas Hajnoczi, Independent Expert, Director of the Department for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (1996−1999, 2017−2021).

The day concluded with a seminar attended by Alexander Kmentt, Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the New Review Cycle of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): Possible Ways to Achieve the Impossible.
Day 5. Relevant Research Organizations of Vienna
On the final day of the program, the participants visited the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Studies (VCDNP). Elena Sokova, Executive Director of the organization, told the young specialists about the work of the center, its main activities, and the role played today by nuclear-related research and analysis centers.

Then a round table discussion was held with the participation of Noah Mayhew, Senior Researcher at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation Studies. During the discussion, the parties touched on Australia’s nuclear submarine acquisition agreement as part of the AUKUS and its implications for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In the afternoon, participants went to the research organization Open Nuclear Network for a short briefing with Research and Analysis Manager Marcy Fowler. She outlined the main areas of work of the research organization and also held a question-and-answer session. This was followed by a presentation by Nikita Degtyaryov, Research and Engagement Assistant, who gave a detailed introduction to the participants on how open sources can be used to reduce nuclear risks.

At the end of the work program, the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna organized a reception for the program participants. Viсtoria Karslieva, Executive Director of the Primakov Center for Foreign Policy Cooperation, and Anton Khlopkov, Director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, expressed their gratitude to all those who made the program possible. The organizers of the program noted the importance of maintaining international contacts in the changing system of international relations. Afterwards, the participants were awarded certificates during a ceremony joined by Permanent Representative Mikhail Ulyanov.