Science & Tech

Zimbabwe’s MPs in Austria to seek safe use of nuclear technology

MEMBERS of the Parliament of Zimbabwe have met with officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, to discuss ways of enhancing the country’s national nuclear legislation, consistent with international and national nuclear law and regulatory developments.

The IAEA reported that its legal and nuclear safety and security experts met with representatives from Zimbabwe’s parliament, attorney general’s office and radiation protection authority last month, from 21 to 24 January.

Zimbabwe is one of several countries in Africa that is in the process of enhancing its national nuclear legislation with IAEA support in the framework of the technical cooperation programme.

“While countries seek to update their national laws to reflect the latest developments in nuclear law, they should also seek to adhere to the relevant international legal instruments for the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear energy and ionizing radiation,” said Wolfram Tonhauser, Section Head of IAEA’s Nuclear and Treaty Law Section, Office of Legal Affairs, who attended the meeting in Vienna.

In the fields of nuclear safety and security, Zimbabwe is taking steps to adhere to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Assistance in Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency as well as the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment.

“The update of the national legislation will allow Zimbabwe to strengthen its legal framework and to bring it in line with the most recent international standards as well as the international legal instruments that our country intends to become a party of, while enhancing mechanisms for regulatory control of ionizing radiation sources,” said Vongai Mavurayi, Legal and Corporate Secretary, Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe.

Support for updating Zimbabwe’s nuclear legal framework is part of the legislative assistance activities that the IAEA provides to its Member States, to help countries benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in a safe and secure manner, consistent with national plans for the development or expansion of nuclear applications.

Zimbabwe’s Radiation Protection Act adopted in 2004 is the current legal basis for controlling the use of ionizing radiation sources in the country.

However, important international developments in the areas of nuclear safety and security since then has resulted in the country seeking to reflect on them and consider their consolidation in a new comprehensive nuclear law that also takes into account the national regulatory experience under the 2004 Act.

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