The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has struck an agreement with Zimbabwe under which the Austria-headquartered global organisation will equip the country’s four international airports and 13 border points with nuclear detection facilities.
The IAEA will invest $1.5 million in the project. On October 11 a trial-run of three radio-nuclide identification devices and 21 personal radiation detection gadgets, donated by the IAEA, was conducted at Victoria Falls International Airport and Victoria Falls Border Post.
A workshop attended by IAEA nuclear security officer, Noor Fitriah Bakri and security sector representatives in Zimbabwe was held from October 10 to 14 in Victoria Falls. It was part of the first phase of the implementation of the project to strengthen the nuclear security detection systems in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the event, deputy chief secretary to the office of the president, Justin Mupamhanga said nuclear and radiological terrorism pose a threat to national and global security thus Zimbabwe should build capacity to be able to respond to it.
“By virtue of its geographical position within the region,” he said, “Zimbabwe enjoys a lot of transit shipment. This detection infrastructure ensures that we eliminate illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and other radioactive sources outside regulatory control. Illicitly trafficked materials cause safety, security and health problems to frontline officers and members of the public. Therefore having clear nuclear detection capability at the points of entry and exit will also ensure the health, safety and security of people in these environments.”
In the first phase of the project to be rolled out shortly, detection equipment will be installed at the country’s busiest ports of entry – Harare International Airport, Beitbridge and Chirundu border posts.
Bakri said Zimbabwe has made a “right step” in working with the IAEA on the project. She said: “Some of your trained experts in our laboratories have shown their skills to show the knowledge that they have received from the IAEA and this is in line within the sustainability promotions that we would like implemented within member states, and Zimbabwe has made a very reasonable and right step forward.”