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IAEA Director General Amano Discusses Cooperation During Visits to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, interviewed by Bolivia's national television. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

In a three-country tour around Latin America from 3 to 9 December, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano discussed cooperation with Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and emphasised the importance of applying nuclear science to address development needs.

During his visit to Ecuador, Mr Amano met with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa and Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy Elsy Parodi Ocaña to discuss cooperation on ways to protect the marine environment, particularly around the Galápagos Islands, as well as a major project to build capacity in Ecuador and the wider region on non-destructive techniques to provide assistance in the aftermath of earthquakes, evaluating the structure of damaged buildings. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit Ecuador in April 2016, killing close to 700 people and causing major damage in the northwest of the country.

“We take pride in being able to respond quickly to crises,” Mr Amano said. “For example, after devastating earthquakes in Ecuador and Nepal, the Agency sent experts in non-destructive testing techniques — including radiography — to assess the safety of hospitals and schools in danger of collapse.”

He also discussed progress on enhancements to Ecuador’s legal and regulatory framework. The IAEA assisted Ecuador in drafting a new nuclear law in 2015, followed by an advisory mission on regulatory matters in 2016.

Meeting with the head of the Peruvian Institute of Nuclear Energy (IPEN) Susana Petrick and senior officials in the Peruvian Foreign Ministry, Mr Amano discussed the renovation of Peru’s RP-10 research reactor, where the Agency has assisted in replacing the fuel elements which will be loaded into the reactor this week.  Refurbishment of the reactor will allow an expansion of the research and services provided by IPEN in health, agriculture and other areas, to benefit Peru and the wider region.

In Bolivia, Mr Amano met with Vice President Álvaro García Linera, Minister for Energy Rafael Alarcón Orihuela, Deputy Foreign Minister María del Carmen Almendras and head of the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN) Silverio Chavez Ríos. In addition to discussing progress on Bolivia’s draft Law on Radiation and Nuclear Safety, which was reviewed by the IAEA in 2016, Mr Amano and his hosts explored how to strengthen cooperation in support of the country’s new project, which includes a research reactor Bolivia is planning to construct. The IAEA has been supporting the development of this reactor through a dedicated technical cooperation project.

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