There are 19 in-service civil research reactors in China nowadays, which are quite diverse on reactor type, usage, power levels, operation modes and safety features [1]. The common practice in nuclear energy advanced countries is to do safety classification and classified management of research reactors. In recent years, China has gradually refined and improved the related work. This paper summarizes the existing research reactor graded approach and safety management requirements included in certain regulations, guidelines and technical documents of IAEA, the United States, Japan and China, and specific practice and experience on operational level as well. And then the classification principles, classification elements, classification methods, safety management requirements and other aspects of the countries or government organizations mentioned above are compared from the view of research reactor safety classification. It comes to the conclusion: As far as China’s research reactor graded approach and safety management requirements are concerned, more work are needed. The relevant provisions of research reactor graded approach of IAEA are comprehensive, and have good reference value for China’s legislation system, but the classification method operability is not strong enough, and there are no detailed management and technical guides as the supplement to the graded approach. The relevant provisions of the research reactor graded approach of the United States and Japan are not systemic enough, but the classification methods are clear and operable, which are referable for China’s relevant practice on research reactor safety classification. After the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, the classified management of the research reactors has achieved quite good results in comprehensive safety inspection of China’s civil research reactors. Finally, some suggestions in respect of the establishment and improvement of China’s research reactor safety classification guidelines and documents, standardization the use of graded approach, and application in the review and supervision of research reactor in China are put forward.

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