Egypt will host the second ministerial African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) in the first week of November, Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, announced on Monday.
It came during Shaker’s speech at the 63rd annual regular session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna, Austria.
The AFRA will discuss many issues related to the field of human resource development and the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology in Africa.
Shaker stressed Egypt’s keenness to benefit from all advisory services provided by the IAEA to the member states. The ministry has presented a self-assessment report to the agency in January 2019, and received two technical delegations from the agency in preparation for the visit of the IAEA Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission in October. This reflects Egypt’s transparency policy in all steps related to its nuclear programme, especially with regard to ensuring the completion of INIR, preparing qualified staff, and studying existing agreements and treaties that Egypt can join in the coming period.
Egypt supports the three main pillars of the IAEA’s work: safeguards, nuclear safety and security, and technical cooperation, the minister asserted.
He added that Egypt’s commitment to the IAEA technical cooperation programmes is reflected in several aspects: payment of all financial commitments to the Technical Cooperation Fund, where Egypt appreciates the importance of providing adequate financial resources to the fund.
Egypt also looks to benefit from its current chairmanship of the Group of 77, China and the Arab Group to emphasise the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and linking it to the achievement of development goals, especially in developing countries, Shaker continued.
He stressed the importance of the IAEA safeguards and verification activities. Safeguards are a set of technical measures applied by the IAEA on nuclear material and activities, through which the agency seeks to independently verify that nuclear facilities are not misused, and nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful uses. They are an essential component of the international security system under the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons.
Shaker added that Egypt continues its serious efforts to free the Middle East from nuclear weapons and commit all nuclear facilities in the region to the comprehensive safeguards system. Egypt calls on the IAEA Director-General to make every effort to implement the resolution submitted by Egypt annually to the IAEA General Conference, which calls for the application of the IAEA guarantees in the Middle East and committing all nuclear facilities to the safeguards system.
He added that Egypt welcomes the holding of the first session of the conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in New York in November, in preparation for applying the decision adopted by the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018. Egypt is hoping that this conference will be an essential step in launching an extended process that will contribute to the drafting of an agreement to free the Middle East from nuclear weapons.