TACIS, the European Union's programme of assistance to the republics of the former Soviet Union, is working with the partner countries to reinforce the security of existing nuclear reactors and other civilian nuclear facilities and to strengthen the responsible supervisory bodies in this area. TACIS is the largest donor in the world working with the New Independent States (CIS) to improve nuclear safety. TACIS has recently launched a number of new projects in nuclear safety within the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. Some of these projects build on initial work carried out under earlier TACIS projects, and prepare the way for continued TACIS support. At the Kalinin nuclear power plant (NPP) TACIS experts have been working for some time with the operators of the plant to supervise the purchase of urgently needed safety-related equipment. The Kalinin NPP will receive laboratory analysis equipment within the coming weeks. A second phase of the programme has recently been launched to install and test the equipment and to train the relevant personnel in its operation. In addition, TACIS experts will remain on-site for the next 18 months to work with the plant operators on all aspects of operation and maintenance and prepare technical specifications for the purchase of additional safety equipment. Russian experts will also travel to the EU Member States to study the operation of EU NPPs. In another project, TACIS experts are making a detailed study of the degradation of the irradiated areas of reactor pressure vessels. This study will provide an important insight into the current state of irradiated vessels and the effectiveness of maintenance procedures adopted to date. Some feasibility studies are already available, including those for a VVER-230 simulator and for an Early Warning System (Ukraine and Belarus). The results of the latter are currently being applied in a pilot project. Through the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC), the EU has committed ECU 20 million to design, develop and finance specific projects which will redirect the skills of nuclear weapons specialists towards civilian sectors and therefore to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. The Centre became operational in March 1994, and a large series of nuclear-related projects have already been launched.