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First Time: International School on Nuclear Security in Arabic hosted in Egypt


Participants and speakers in the first International School on Nuclear Security for Arabic-speaking Countries, Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority)

Customs and law enforcement agents are normally the first line of defence against malicious acts. They joined other participants, including regulators, operators, and academics at the nuclear security school held for the first time in Cairo, Egypt.

The course is an excellent opportunity for young professionals in nuclear-related industries in the region to learn about nuclear security. “Due to the lack of educational resources available in their mother tongue many officers in some Arab countries have yet to familiarize themselves with the issue of nuclear security,” said Walid Ibrahim Zidan Mohamed, Vice Chairman of the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) and a professor of nuclear chemical engineering.

Specifically designed by the IAEA for young-professionals from Arabic speaking Member and Non-Member States, this course is one of a series of such schools, based on the curriculum run jointly by the IAEA and the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy since 2011.

Nuclear security is an on-going concern for States; therefore it is important for them to ensure that nuclear material is not stolen and used for malicious purposes, and to prevent sabotage at nuclear facilities, among other potential threats.

“The school will promote awareness of nuclear security and enhance the security infrastructure at the regional level, both for the Arabic and African countries,” said Zidan.

Thirty three participants from Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen attended the course.

Know more, better prepared

The IAEA and its Member States are working together to strengthen the nuclear security framework worldwide by securing nuclear and other radioactive materials that are in use, storage and transport. To ensure the effectiveness of that framework, States need highly qualified individuals. The International School on Nuclear Security plays an important role in supporting Member States’ nuclear security programmes.

The Cairo School provided comprehensive information on topics such as international and national legal framework for nuclear security; risk informed approach; physical protection of nuclear and radioactive materials, facilities, sources, and associated activities, including transport; computer and information security; nuclear security culture, dealing with materials outside regulatory control; nuclear forensics and crime scene management and security at major public events.

“The school in Cairo is an excellent opportunity to provide the Arabic-speaking countries with a comprehensive introduction to nuclear security,” said Scott Purvis, Head of the Information Management Section in IAEA's Division of Nuclear Security, in his opening remarks.

The curriculum goes beyond just lectures. “The course relies not only on presentation, but also case studies, for which participants had to provide solutions,” said Zidan.

Practical exercises were held to help incorporate this knowledge into actual plans and procedures to protect against threats. Participants received hands-on experience in the use of nuclear detection instruments which are used to track the illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.

“We teach them how to use it, how to calibrate it, how to operate it, and how to search for the missing nuclear materials and radioactive sources in some particular scenarios,” Zidan said.

Many participants agreed that this course has given them renewed understanding of Nuclear Security and knowledge learnt is relevant to their professions. “I will apply and implement what I have learnt from the school in my job in securing radioactive materials,” said one course participant.

In addition to the Trieste and Cairo International Schools, the IAEA plans to launch similar programmes in Jakarta, Indonesia for the Asia and the Pacific region, in Africa for both English and French-speaking countries (in Nigeria and Morocco), and in Spanish, in 2016-2018. These efforts are part of the IAEA assistance to Member States’ growing interest in gaining wide ranging knowledge on nuclear security.

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