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IAEA to Assist Panama on Nuclear Security for World Youth Day with Pope Francis

Vienna, Austria

Practical Arrangements between the IAEA and Panama on nuclear-security cooperation for World Youth Day 2019 were signed on 16 November in 2017 at the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Government of Panama have signed an agreement aimed at strengthening nuclear-security measures for World Youth Day 2019, a week-long event for young Catholics that Pope Francis is expected to attend.

Practical Arrangements outlining the terms of cooperation were signed on 16 November 2017 at the IAEA’s headquarters by IAEA Deputy Director Juan Carlos Lentijo and Jonattan Del Rosario, Deputy Minister of Public Security of Panama. The IAEA will assist Panama through technical meetings, workshops, training and the provision of radiation-detection equipment to enhance security at the January 2019 event.

“All countries need strong and efficient nuclear security systems, and precautions are particularly needed while hosting major public events. The IAEA has solid experience in providing support on request,” said Lentijo, who is head of the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security. “World Youth Day provides a good opportunity to promote nuclear security not only in Panama, but in Central America as a whole.”

While nuclear security is a national responsibility, the IAEA serves as the global platform through which countries cooperate to prevent nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way. The IAEA provides Member States with practical assistance, expert advice, training and equipment.

“Panama will receive on loan, free of charge, more than 150 portable radiation identification and detection devices,” Del Rosario said. “The equipment will be placed at border control points and strategic areas to guarantee the security of the Panamanian people and the hundreds of thousands of visitors that we will receive during the Pope's visit.”

World Youth Day is an international celebration for young Roman Catholics held every two or three years. According to organizers, the Pope typically presides over an evening vigil before celebrating mass on the final day. Some three million people attended the last World Youth Day in 2016, held in the Polish city of Krakow.

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