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Enhancing Regulatory Framework for Nuclear Security in Africa

Participants at the IAEA workshop on strengthening regulatory frameworks for nuclear security in Africa that took place in Rabat, Morocco. (Photo: Moroccan Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security Agency)

Strengthening national regulatory frameworks for nuclear security against threats from malicious acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material in Africa is the main objective of a comprehensive IAEA project on 'Enhancing National Regulatory Frameworks for Nuclear Security in African States' launched at a regional workshop in Rabat, Morocco this month. 

"Nuclear security has become increasingly important given the emerging threats around the world," said Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Security. "The threats we face today are international in their nature and effective cooperation is essential to address them."

Regulators and legal experts from across Africa received important information on international instruments for nuclear security, such as relevant IAEA nuclear security guidance; the importance of adequate regulations for physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities, other radioactive material and associated facilities; and regulations for nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.

"It is widely acknowledged that the threat of nuclear terrorism is real and the response has to be global.  Nuclear security is vital for African countries as most of them use radioactive sources that could be misused for malicious acts," said Khammar Mrabit, Director General of the Moroccan Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security Agency.

Seventy five participants from 36 countries attended this workshop organised by the IAEA in cooperation with the Moroccan Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security Agency.

Enhancing nuclear security globally requires the development and implementation of stringent regulatory procedures at national level.

During the weeklong interactive sessions, participants were urged to assess their own legal framework on nuclear security and to identify the current and future steps to be taken by their competent authorities to establish regulations and processes to enhance nuclear security.

"This meeting helped me gain knowledge for my country to develop regulations to meet international recommendations and guidance," said Abigail Chilulu, a radiation safety officer with the Zambian Radiation Protection Authority, adding that "by sharing and learning from countries that have already developed their nuclear security regulations will help to strengthen Zambia's nuclear security."

The meeting also provided an opportunity to assess the gaps in the national regulatory frameworks and to work out country specific implementation plans for the development of nuclear security regulations, including interim measures. Support was provided for the drafting of regulations for the physical protection of nuclear and other radioactive material and associated facilities, transport security, and for the security of nuclear and other radioactive material out of regulatory control.

"This workshop is very important for Burundi because the recommendations will be useful to help decision makers to understand the importance of and the need to establish a regulatory framework for nuclear security," said Isaac Hacimana, Burundi national liaison officer from the Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation.

In conclusion Raja Adnan informed the participants that the workshop will be complemented by two sub-regional training courses later this year – one for French-speaking countries and the other for English-speaking countries.

"The project will continue with tailored training activities on the drafting of nuclear security regulations based on specific country needs, national expert missions and the review of draft regulations," he added.

The meeting in Rabat took place from 3 to 7 April.