At a three-day IAEA Regional Workshop for Pacific Islands States, held in Nadi, Fiji, from 29 April to 1 May 2013, 30 participants from 12 countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), in addition to an observer from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, met to learn more about the IAEA's support to States in the region, as well as to identify areas of possible cooperation in the future and help to establish channels of communication with the IAEA.
The workshop was hosted by the Government of Fiji, which, along with Papua New Guinea, joined the IAEA in 2012. The workshop participants learned how nuclear science and technology can support States in the Pacific region in areas of major social and economic significance, such as human health, water resource management, food and agriculture, marine and coastal environment protection, and climate change studies.
During the briefing, the national representatives received an update on the IAEA's marine benchmark study on the possible impact of the Fukushima radioactive releases in the Asia-Pacific region. The IAEA, together with the Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia, or RCA, are undertaking this Technical Cooperation project throughout the Pacific Ocean region. IAEA Member State, Fiji, Marshall Islands and Palau, as well as the non-Member States in the region, Cook Islands, Kiribati and Solomon Islands, are participating in the regional project. The participants recognized the usefulness and benefits derived from the regional project and shared their experiences. Palau will be hosting a project review meeting in August 2013.
The participants also received an in-depth orientation on the risk of illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials and border monitoring; the safety and security of radioactive sources; radiation protection; radioactive materials transport; and nuclear liability.
The workshop offered an opportunity to discuss IAEA safeguards, in particular regarding the additional protocols and amendments to the "Small Quantities Protocols", or SQP. An SQP is a protocol to a comprehensive safeguards agreement that is concluded between the IAEA and a State on the basis that the State has less than specified minimal quantities of nuclear material and no nuclear material in a facility.
Senior experts from IAEA Member States, as well as the IAEA Secretariat, provided presentations and discussed with the participants these issues in details.
On behalf of the IAEA Member States in the region, Palau made a presentation to share with the participants its experience in working with the IAEA. Palau is implementing IAEA Technical Cooperation projects, such as a project in integrated pest management to suppress the fruit fly population and thus improve the quality of fruits and vegetables, as well as a project in improving the quality of X-ray diagnostic radiology imaging.
In particular, the participants noted that the IAEA 2013 Regional Workshop for Pacific Islands States helped further their understanding of how nuclear technologies can support development in their countries, and offered insights into the need to take necessary measures for safety and security of radioactive materials. The IAEA reiterated its readiness to assist Member States in this regard and to work together to build the needed national capacity in a sustainable manner. The IAEA also underlined the importance of adherence to the strengthened IAEA safeguards system.
The three-day Regional Workshop was followed by an IAEA national workshop for Fiji on 2 May 2013, conducted in Suva, Fiji. The IAEA team briefed participants on various aspects of nuclear technology and the role of the IAEA, and discussed with the new IAEA Member State's national stakeholders the way forward for initiating bilateral cooperation.