End of Czech-Russian nuclear research after more than 60 years

The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, one of the main nuclear research centers in Europe, was founded by the countries of the Eastern Bloc in 1956, only two years after the creation of CERN, the Organization European Commission for Nuclear Research, in Geneva.

One of the 10 founding members of the research center, located in the Moscow region, was then Czechoslovakia. Since then, Czech scientific activities in the field of nuclear research have been closely linked to this institution, explains Vladimír Wagner from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Academy of Sciences:

“We recently had great success with neutrino mass verification, which was part of the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino experiment in Germany. It was a follow-up to the research carried out in Troitsk and Dubna, which were mostly international projects.

While the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva is home to the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, research in Dubna in Russia is more varied, focusing, for example, on the discovery of superheavy elements.

Dubna Joint Nuclear Research Institute |  Photo: Hrustov, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Both centers operate on a principle similar to that of the European Space Agency. Each member state pays an annual fee, with the Czech Republic sending around $6 million each year to Dubna. The money then flows back to scientists and companies through grants and projects.

The Czech Republic has become the first country to leave Russia’s 19-member Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. According to Education Minister Petr Gazdík, it is no longer possible for Czechia to cooperate in research in the field of nuclear technology with a state that has militarily threatened the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Jan Dobeš is the Chairman of the Cooperation Committee between the Czech Republic and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.

“In practice, steps are being taken to suspend Czech activities as well as fees. There are currently 25 experts from the Czech Republic working at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and all have been asked to leave.

Meanwhile, the other four EU member states that are part of the Dubna Joint Nuclear Research Institute, including Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, are also considering ending their membership.

Czech scientists are now looking for alternative solutions for their international projects, but many of them risk remaining unfinished due to the end of cooperation.

A number of scientific collaborations between the Czech Republic and institutions in Russia and Belarus have already been interrupted or suspended following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Berta D. Wells