IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation, Ana María Cetto travelled to Baku from 17 to 18 May to meet government representatives and discuss issues related to Azerbaijan's technical cooperation (TC) programme. She was accompanied by Andrei Chupov, Programme Management Officer for Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is a ‘young’ Member State — the country joined the Agency in 2001, yet it already has a strong, dynamic TC programme. The technical cooperation projects address a range of issues, including improving human health, protecting the environment, ensuring nuclear safety and security and applying nuclear technologies in industry. The Agency for Nuclear and Radiation Safety was recently created under the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and is headed by Mr Siyavish Azakov. The authorities are working on the development of a national policy for nuclear technology applications and on the finalication of the 2010-2015 Country Programme Framework (CPF) in order to identify national development needs and trends, as well as the future priority areas of cooperation with the TC programme.
During her meeting with Mr. Mahmud Karimov, President of the National Academy of Sciences, Ms Cetto discussed studies carried out on potential radioactive contamination of the aquatic environment and for the planning and establishment of a research reactor and a radiation processing centre in Azerbaijan. Mr Karimov presented Ms. Cetto with an honorary doctorate of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.
Ms Cetto’s travel to Azerbaijan also included a meeting with Mr Novruz Guliev, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, on the establishment of an automated gamma background monitoring network for the identification and control of background radiation in Azerbaijan. Six monitoring stations have been installed on the Azeri borders through a national TC project.
With Mr Ramiz Hasanov, Chairman of the State Committee on Standardization, Metrology and Patents the IAEA delegation exchanged views on the planned establishment of a second standard dosimetry laboratory in Azerbaijan. A meeting with Mr. Yaqub Eyyubov, First Deputy Prime Minister, emphasized the importance of developing a national policy for the application of nuclear technologies. The meeting also addressed the pending completion of the 2010–2015 Country Programme Framework, as well as future priority areas of cooperation under the TC programme. Ms. Cetto welcomed the Government’s good practice to cost-share implementation of large equipment components within TC projects.
Ms Cetto also visited the main waste disposal facility in Azerbaijan, where all radioactive wastes are stored. As strengthening radioactive waste management is a governmental priority, the existing storage and treatment capabilities for radioactive wastes are currently being upgraded. It was agreed that the training facilities and the existing laboratories of the Radioactive Waste Site "IZOTOP" could be used for training students from other countries.
Ms. Cetto also participated in the opening ceremony of the IAEA regional training course on Evidence Based Radiation Oncology in Common Cancers in the National Oncology Centre. In her meeting with Dr. Prof. Jamil Aliyev, Director of the National Oncology Centre (NOC), and Mr. Niyazi Asgarov, Head of the Radiotherapy Department, it was noted that improvement of human health remained a high priority for the Azeri government and technical cooperation is essential for knowledge and technology transfer. TC projects have helped achieve progress in upgrading the human health infrastructure and will continue to assist in modernizing the medical sector, where radiation is applied, to improve the services and to minimize the dose received by patients and personnel. Support is also planned for the further development and upgrading of the interventional radiology for diagnosis of disease and treatment of patients, and the establishment of am adequate QA/QC system for interventional radiology.