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IAEA Director General Visits Morocco

IAEA Director General Amano's visit to Morocco also included a tour of the Centre for National Radiation Protection. (Photo Credit: C. Brady/IAEA)

During a visit to Morocco from June 23 to 25, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano welcomed the country's efforts to share its expertise in peaceful nuclear applications in human health and other fields with neighbouring countries in Africa.

The Director General noted that Morocco was active in providing postgraduate training in radiation oncology to students from francophone countries, while its National Centre for Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (CNESTEN) in Maamoura was one of three recognised centres in the African region which host an IAEA postgraduate education course in radiation safety, waste and transport. The Director General was briefed on CNESTEN's plans to build a training facility to expand the courses it can provided both nationally and to other countries in Africa.

"It is important that the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology are available to all countries, both developed and developing," he said after talks with senior government ministers in Rabat. "Morocco provides an excellent example of 'south-south cooperation', passing on the knowledge and skills it has acquired across a range nuclear applications to other countries in Africa."

The Director General visited the Radiotherapy Department of the National Institute of Oncology and a number of other institutions.

In a speech at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Rabat, Director General Amano said that, as a scientific and technical organization, the IAEA made an important contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

"We help countries to improve human health, fight cancer and improve nutrition," he said. "We help to improve access to electricity. We help to increase food production, manage scarce water resources and monitor environmental pollution. All of these are areas where nuclear techniques have an important role to play."

Key IAEA activities in Morocco included nutrition projects involving the use of nuclear techniques to determine whether new-born babies are getting all the nutrients they need.

In the Souss Valley in the south of the country, the IAEA had assisted with a pilot project to deploy the so-called sterile insect technique to suppress the Mediterranean fruit fly, a major pest which can destroy entire crops of mandarin oranges and other citrus fruits. These are important Moroccan exports.

The pilot project had been a success, the Director General said. "The government of Morocco and fruit producers are now working, with IAEA assistance, to make greater use of this valuable technique."

Director General Amano noted that Morocco is one of a number of countries that are considering adding nuclear power to their energy mix. The IAEA is working closely with its Moroccan partners in this area.

He thanked the Moroccan authorities for their strong support for the Agency's nuclear security activities and for hosting an important IAEA exercise, known as ConvEx-3, last year which tested countries' readiness to respond swiftly to a dirty bomb attack.