IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in Spain: Plans Agreed to Improve Radiation Medicine in Latin America and the Caribbean

IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano (left) and Resident Representative of Spain to the IAEA, Mr Gonzalo de Salazar Serantes  look on as IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Juan Carlos Lentijo (left) and Juan Jose Rodrigues Sendin, President of the Consejo General De Colegios Oficiales De Medicos Y Fundación De Los Colegios Para La Cooperación International (CGCOM) signed the agreement at a brief ceremony in Madrid, Spain on 26 October 2015. (Photo: C. Brady/IAEA)

The IAEA and the Association of Medical Practitioners of Spain will work together to improve radiation medicine in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean under a Practical Arrangement that both parties signed on 26 October.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, in Spain for a two-day official visit, attended the signing ceremony for the agreement, under which  both parties will  assist the Latin American and Caribbean region in the promotion of health using nuclear science and technology. The Practical Arrangement covers collaboration in training and capacity building in radiation medicine, including nuclear medicine, diagnostic imaging, radiation oncology, radiation biology and medical physics, as well as in nutrition and health related environmental studies. Mr Amano has repeatedly highlighted his personal commitment to combating cancer and improving the availability of comprehensive cancer control services in developing countries. 

Areas of cooperation will include:

• training of radiation medicine and nutrition professionals from IAEA Member States, in particular from Latin America and the Caribbean.  

• development of interactive educational materials in Spanish in the fields of radiation medicine and nutrition, to be posted on the IAEA Human Health Campus.

• provision of technical/scientific advice by CGCOM through the services of cost free experts and/or junior professional officers in the areas of nuclear medicine and diagnostic imaging, bio-dosimetry and radiation oncology, and nutrition.

• identification of high-level clinical centres or universities for the training of fellows  from the Latin American region.

• provision of expert support for IAEA education and training activities, with particular focus on Latin America and the Caribbean.

• participation of Spanish clinical centres in IAEA coordinated research activities.

Nuclear Security Transport Exercise

While in Spain, Mr Amano also attended the ‘Gate to Africa’ exercise, a Spanish-Moroccan nuclear security exercise, which simulated a high speed hijack of radiation sources at sea and efforts to recover them. “The transport of nuclear and other radioactive material is probably the most vulnerable phase in the lifetime of these materials,” he said. “So exercises such as this, covering international transport of high activity radioactive sources, are very important.” The aim of the exercise was to assist Morocco and Spain in strengthening national transport security arrangements for nuclear and other radioactive materials.

The IAEA Director General said it was extremely important that countries work together to prevent terrorists or other criminals from obtaining nuclear and other radioactive material. “This is primarily a national responsibility,” he added. “But the IAEA, with 165 Member States, plays the central role in helping the world act in unison against nuclear terrorism.”

The 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM

Mr Amano also said the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) would greatly strengthen global nuclear security. “Entry into force of the Amendment would reduce the likelihood of terrorists being able to detonate a dirty bomb in a major city. It would also reduce the risk of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant that could result in a release of radioactivity,” he said.

Mr Amano urged countries that have not yet done so to adhere to this important nuclear security instrument. WIth Iceland depositing its instrument of ratification to the amendment on 27 October, the adherence by only 13 more countries is needed for it to come into force. 

The Amendment to the CPPNM makes it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and materials in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport.

Peaceful uses of nuclear energy

On 27 October, Mr Amano also took part in a discussion on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for power and other applications, along with José Manuel Soria, Spain’s Minister for Industry, Energy Tourism, and Fernando Marti Scharfhausen, the President of the Nuclear Safety Council. Mr Amano noted that the IAEA had been contributing effectively to sustainable development for nearly 60 years through its technical cooperation programme. It will make peaceful nuclear technology available to help achieve the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.

“The peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology are an extremely important part of the IAEA’s work,” Mr Amano said. “Their impact in the daily lives of millions of people around the world is extraordinary and deserves to be better known.”

Mr Amano also met with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García Margallo during his visit to Spain.