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Empowering South-South Cooperation in ARASIA: Highlights from Board Meeting at the 67th IAEA GC


ARASIA has grown quickly since its inception in 2002. Initially comprising three State Parties –  Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen – the Agreement has expanded to include ten State Parties. (Photo: J. O'Brien/IAEA) 

Representatives from the Cooperative Agreement for Arab States in Asia for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (ARASIA) have discussed and agreed on strategic actions to enhance South-South and triangular cooperation, increasing the impact of technical cooperation in areas including health, agriculture and environmental monitoring. The discussions took place at the annual ARASIA meeting on the margins of the IAEA General Conference. The delegates also reviewed progress in the implementation of technical cooperation projects and finalized arrangements for the forthcoming 2024-2025 technical cooperation cycle, with a focus on initiatives in nuclear medicine.  

"ARASIA has begun the implementation of multidisciplinary projects, in the strategic areas of health, agriculture, and environmental monitoring, as well as in the field of cultural heritage and combatting the illicit trafficking of cultural and art objects using nuclear techniques. These projects aim to fortify networking by showcasing ARASIA'S Regional Resource Centres and ongoing technical cooperation projects,” said Bilal Nsouli, ARASIA Chair and Director of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission in his opening remarks.

In his statement to the delegates, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, Hua Liu, highlighted ARASIA’s recent successes.

“I commend ARASIA on the significant steps taken to enhance programme implementation. These include, inter alia, strategic actions in the areas of human capacity building, resource mobilization, and outreach and communication,” said Deputy Director General Hua Liu.

During the meeting, the delegates focused on the proposed programme for the 2024–2025 cycle of the IAEA technical cooperation programme, and on strategic actions taken by ARASIA during the year. The proposed new programme includes a novel project on cultural heritage artefact tracing that aims to combat the illicit trafficking of art and archaeological artefacts using nuclear analytical techniques, such as non-destructive testing.

In August 2023, ARASIA finalized the review of its medium-term strategy. The gathering provided delegates with the opportunity to discuss strategies to support its implementation based on regional priorities including the impact of climate change on water resources, and the strengthening of diagnostic and interventional radiology. Strategies were also tailored to align with the IAEA’s major initiatives, such as ZODIAC, NUTEC Plastics and Rays of Hope.

ARASIA has recognized five Regional Resource Centres, starting in 2018. The centres support the IAEA technical cooperation programme by providing quality health care and nuclear medicine services in ARASIA States Parties and enhance ARASIA’s goal of furthering South-South cooperation in the region.

Delegates at the meeting reviewed activities supported by two of the Regional Resource Centres: The American University of Beirut’s Medical Centre and Kuwait’s Cancer Control Centre. Both centres are actively providing support by hosting IAEA trainees facilitated through technical cooperation projects. Action plans were adopted to enhance cooperation amongst these Regional Resource Centres with the aim of increasing South-South cooperation.

ARASIA, in cooperation with the IAEA, promotes and coordinates activities for training, research, development and applications of nuclear science and technology. (Photo: J. O'Brien/IAEA) 

“Kuwait's ARASIA Regional Resource Centre in Nuclear Medicine is a valuable asset to the region, providing essential training, research, and information exchange opportunities for specialists in nuclear medicine,” said Nader Al-Awadi, Executive Commissioner for International Cooperation, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research.

“The centre has played a key role in advancing nuclear medicine in ARASIA countries, and its recent hosting of two regional training courses on trends of theranostics and production of radiopharmaceuticals provided participants with the latest knowledge and skills in nuclear medicine, enabling them to provide better care to their patients. These courses are especially important in light of the growing demand for nuclear medicine services in ARASIA and a testament to Kuwait's commitment to supporting the region's development,” continued Al-Awadi.

New proposals for the Regional Resource Centres were presented to explore other areas of support such as a new radiological environmental monitoring initiative to monitor air, land and ocean pollution in the region. South-South cooperation is particularly important in this area due to the transboundary nature of the issue, with dust storms and ocean currents capable of carrying pollutants thousands of kilometres from their origins.

Through the exchange of knowledge, training, education and harmonized data practices, ARASIA States Parties are assisting one another in their environmental pollution monitoring efforts and becoming self-sufficient as a region.

ARASIA is currently preparing a new publication which will serve as a reference document to highlight the region’s capacity developments in nuclear medicine. The booklet will provide an overview of the Regional Resource Centres and the ways in which they are strengthening diagnostic and interventional radiology with support from the IAEA technical cooperation programme.


The Co-operative Agreement for Arab States in Asia for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (ARASIA) is an intergovernmental agreement established under the auspices of the IAEA in 2002. The aim of the agreement is to harness nuclear science and technology in support of socioeconomic development through effective cooperative approaches, taking advantage of the potential for networking and partnership in the region.

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