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IAEA Director General Visits Argentina: Highlights Nuclear’s Role in Energy, Cancer Care and Development


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visits CAREM 25, Argentina’s first prototype small modular reactor, currently under construction. (Photo: I. Dambrauskas/CAREM)

“The IAEA will continue to support Argentina’s nuclear applications and its contribution to regional development through the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said during his first official visit to the country, where this week he is meeting with several high-level officials and visiting nuclear facilities and institutions.

On Tuesday, Mr Grossi met with Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez and Santiago Cafiero, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, and expressed gratitude for Argentina’s support of the IAEA’s efforts to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. “In these difficult times of uncertainty, international organizations must also rise to the occasion,” he said. Mr Grossi has in recent weeks engaged in high-level consultations with Ukraine and Russia aimed at agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone as soon as possible, stressing it is urgently needed to help prevent a nuclear accident.

In a meeting with Flavia Royon, Secretary of Energy, discussions revolved around the importance of Argentina’s nuclear power programme and its role in the country’s energy mix. Argentina has three nuclear power plants in operation: Atucha I and II, both of which Mr Grossi visited on Tuesday, and Embalse. Nuclear power generates 7.5 per cent of the country’s electricity. Argentina is also in the process of building its first prototype small modular reactor (SMR), CAREM 25. Mr Grossi visited the new reactor site, which will include the containment of the reactor, the control room and all the safety and operating systems. CAREM-type reactors will produce 32 megawatts of electricity and will be the first nuclear power reactor designed in Argentina.

In addition to CAREM 25, Argentina is building a new research reactor, RA-10. Mr Grossi also toured the construction site of RA-10, which will have wide implications in the areas of health, science, technology and industry. “RA-10 will support Argentina in radioisotope production for medical purposes, food security, agriculture and more,” Mr Grossi said.

Beyond nuclear power and research reactors, Argentina is also harnessing nuclear applications to address cancer care. During his tour of the progress toward the establishment of the Argentine Proton Therapy Center on Monday, Mr Grossi reiterated the IAEA’s readiness to support Argentina in its efforts to deliver cancer care for all, through the IAEA initiative Rays of Hope. The initiative, launched on World Cancer Day this year, aims to tackle the global inequity in access to cancer care. “Cancer is by far more devastating in developing than in developed countries, and it is not cancer's strength that causes this inequality,” Mr Grossi said. “The root of this problem lies in the lack of access to lifesaving treatments, such as the different forms of radiotherapy.” The Argentine Proton Therapy Center will be the first of its kind in Latin America. The Center will use proton therapy – a radiation treatment – which is particularly beneficial in treating tumour cells in vital or hard-to-reach organs in the body.

Mr Grossi also met with Agustin Arbor Gonzalez, President of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN), to discuss regulatory challenges and the essential role of having a regulatory basis for Argentina’s various projects, such as CAREM 25 and the Argentine Proton Therapy Center.

Last month, the IAEA completed an Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission to review all regulatory functions and responsibilities of ARN against international safety standards. The mission found that Argentina has a comprehensive and robust regulatory system for nuclear and radiation safety, and recognized that it has been successfully implementing a comprehensive education and training programme in radiation and nuclear safety for more than 40 years for countries in the region.

Cooperation and development

Argentina has been a member of the IAEA since 1957 and has actively participated in IAEA technical cooperation projects and coordinated research projects. Meeting with experts from Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) yesterday, Mr Grossi discussed the IAEA NUTEC Plastics initiative, which aims to help countries recycle and trace plastic pollution. He highlighted the indispensable role of nuclear science and technologies in monitoring plastics in the marine environment and in recycling and creating biodegradable plastics to address plastic pollution.

During his visit, Mr Grossi unveiled a plaque recognizing CNEA as an IAEA Collaborating Centre up to 2026. The CNEA was first designated a Collaborating Centre in 2018, enabling work on joint projects on nuclear power, fuel cycle and nuclear science techniques for development and environmental protection. Celebrating the work of the CNEA, Mr Grossi reiterated the IAEA’s support of the Commission to strengthen education and research in nuclear field.

Over the next three days, Mr Grossi will meet with representatives of Argentina’s Foreign Ministry, the CNEA and the Association of Metallurgical Industrialists of the Argentine Republic. He will visit the research and development Bariloche Atomic Center and RA-6 research reactor, and the Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy Centre, among other nuclear facilities and institutions. Mr Cafiero and Mr Grossi will meet again to sign two agreements in support of Rays of Hope and NUTEC in Antarctica. “We’re partnering to bring cancer care for all in Latin America and to establish a presence in Antarctica to protect the oceans,” Mr Grossi said.

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