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Strengthening Links With a New Member State: IAEA Mission to Turkmenistan Explores New Areas of Cooperation


The IAEA team held meetings with Ministries responsible for Health and Medical Industries; Agriculture and Water Resources; Communal Services and Defence. (Photo: IAEA)

During a busy week in Ashgabat from 6 to 10 November, a team of IAEA staff held detailed discussions with a wide range of government institutions in Turkmenistan, to set up the first technical cooperation programme in the country. This IAEA mission is the first step in a process designed to ensure that Turkmenistan can benefit fully from the IAEA technical cooperation (TC) programme.

National Liaison Officer Mr. Ilmammedov explained “Turkmenistan joined the IAEA in spring 2016.  We are keen to play a full part as a Member State of the IAEA and to share the benefits of this membership in our country. It has been very helpful to hold such detailed discussions across all aspects of the Agency’s work – health, agriculture, technology, safety and regulatory matters”.

Mission Leader Martin Krause (Director, Division for Europe, IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation) said “This was a great opportunity for us to listen carefully to our counterparts in Turkmenistan, to better understand their needs over a wide spectrum of activities and to seek ways to strengthen their involvement in the activities of the IAEA”.

The IAEA team held meetings with Ministries responsible for Health and Medical Industries; Agriculture and Water Resources; Communal Services and Defence.  They also made visits to the national radioactive waste disposal site, the national oncology centre, the national public health laboratories, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Oil and Gas Complex.  All these meetings and visits allowed greater understanding to develop through discussion.  This fact-finding mission will help the IAEA and Turkmenistan to begin shaping technical cooperation projects and to find other interactions which are of value to Turkmenistan.

Mission team member Ian Gordon (Section Head – Waste Technology, IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy) said “It was a real privilege to listen to the thoughts from a new Member State, to hear about their needs and to identify connections which will assist them.  Some early examples may include connectivity with the International Nuclear Information System, access to energy planning tools, participation in the Internet Reactor Laboratory, along with the safe and effective management of radioactive waste”.

Further strengthening of health care, particularly for women and children, has been identified by the President of Turkmenistan as a national priority.  Mission team member Francesco Giammarile (Nuclear Medicine Physician – Division of Human Health, IAEA Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications) noted, “Sharing global expertise in medicine continues to bring huge benefits to the health of people, across the world.  Hearing the details of Turkmenistan’s cancer prevention programme has helped us to shape a plan.  We hope that this will develop further and will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Turkmenistan”.

Mission team member, Ronald Pacheco (Unit Head, Control of Radiation Sources, IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security) explained “Through these discussions, we got a clearer view of the safety aspects and regulatory infrastructure in Turkmenistan.  This has helped both Turkmenistan and the IAEA to consider areas for cooperation, which will bring benefits in improving the safety of patients, workers, public and the environment.”

The mission concluded with a meeting of representatives from many Ministries, to share and to discuss the emerging considerations from the week – both for TC projects and for other interactions.  At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Ilmammedov said “We greatly appreciate all the opportunities made available by the IAEA.  The thoughtful and collaborative discussions with the mission team provided use with fresh insights which we will consider in detail.”


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