Kazakhstan Embassy’s Engagement with the African Commission on Nuclear Energy
Central Asia and Africa will benefit from Inter-Regional Dialogue on Nuclear Energy Governance
29 August 2020
Photo: Dr. Messaoud Baaliouamer, Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE) and Mr Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to South Africa
In a special interview with Dr. Messaoud Baaliouamer, Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), dedicated to the 29 August – the International Day against Nuclear Tests, the high-ranked African diplomat commended H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, First President of Kazakhstan and Leader of the Nation, for the initiative seeking to establish dialogue among nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs), and praised the role and contribution of Kazakhstan in the promotion of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of WMD, and to a world free of nuclear weapons.
During the conversation Dr. Baaliouamer informed the Embassy of Kazakhstan in South Africa about the scheduled joint activities to be organized by AFCONE Secretariat, Government of Kazakhstan, International Science and Technological Center (ISTC) and other stakeholders in this sphere from September – November 2020.
The first event – an online webinar on "Virtual Meeting on Uranium Resources in Africa: Exploration, Exploitation and Cooperation Opportunities" with the participation of representatives of ISTC, AFCONE and the African Union, which is expected to be held on September 8, 2020.
And preliminary in October-November 2020, the second event an international online seminar on the theme – “BENEFITS FROM INTERREGIONAL DIALOGUE ON NUCLEAR GOVERNANCE: AFRICA AND CENTRAL ASIA” is planned to be organized jointly by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, AFCONE Secretariat, ISTC. One of the outcomes is expected to be the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (AfNWFZ) and the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ).
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According to the AFCONE Executive Secretary, the upcoming online event (Webinar) should be considered as the continuation of the International Seminar held in Nur-Sultan on 28 August 2019 on strengthening cooperation among the NWFZs. In his opinion, in the future, such international fora should become regular and need to be conducted on an annual basis.
Dr. Baaliouamer explained that the provisions of the Pelindaba Treaty were responding to all the African countries issues, raised by nuclear energy, as follows:
- Contribution to the global efforts towards total disarmament and against nuclear tests; Africa has already given concrete evidence of its commitment in these fields;
- Strengthening the global efforts towards non-proliferation through verification processes;
- Promotion of safe and secure peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in particular in the socio-economic priority fields;
- Protection of African States against possible nuclear attacks on their territories.
“Furthermore, the Pelindaba Treaty allows our continent to speak with one voice, while negotiating the review of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the disarmament issues, the priority to allocate more funds to the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy through international technical cooperation, the right to develop nuclear science and technology including through technology transfer, etc,” he added.
In addition, Africa, through the provisions of the Pelindaba Treaty (Treaty for which the African Union Commission is the depository), allow the gradual setup of an enabling environment to the creation of new Nuclear weapon Free Zones, in particular the One in the Middle East.
One of the major interests of the African countries is to go ahead with promoting and developing peaceful use of nuclear energy according to the Article 8 of the Pelindaba Treaty. He said they were already observing the great impact with radiation applications in health, in particular in fighting cancer and cannot imagine a national cancer plan without integrating nuclear medicine, radiotherapy, medical physics, and quality assurance programmes. Increasing mortality due to cancers is a really worrying health issue in African countries. In 2020, it is unimaginable that about twenty-eight countries in Africa lack a single radiotherapy unit! According to IARC, by 2030 1.4 million new cancer cases and 1 million deaths are foreseen in Africa.
Several African countries decided to change the situation, in close cooperation with WHO and the IAEA. South Africa and other African countries are doing well by involving private partners to assist the governmental efforts.
AFCONE will develop every effort to improve the situation in the continent, including through consolidating the synergy between all the stakeholders involved (WHO AFRO, AUC HRST & SA, AORTIC, IAEA, AFRA), Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) to facilitate delivery in Africa by African Centres of Excellence, more cooperation efforts in this fields with the AU Strategic Partners.
This year, hopefully, before November 2020, they are looking into organizing, in close cooperation and support of the African Union Commission Departments, a high level meeting on fighting cancer, in order to continue to mobilise the highest decision makers in Africa, inviting them to fully integrate in their national health programs, cancer plans, with nuclear medicine and radiation therapy services, among others. AFCONE will also help with Banks Financial support through long term loans. A Call to Action will be submitted for consideration and adoption.
Dr. Baaliouamer applauded the First President of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev and commend the courage and action he took on the decisions at the national level.
“He succeeded and influenced efficiently the entire world. I believe that the world recognizes this just action and the impact of the decisions he made about the future. In this regard, we cordially congratulate H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Leader of the Kazakhstani Nation (Elbasy) with receiving on 26 August 2020, on the eve of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, the status as a champion for a world free of nuclear tests to highlight Kazakhstan’s historic contribution to the global efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Yet, there are many humanitarian uses of nuclear science that can unite rather than divide the world,” he said.
It will be a historic and important moment to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (AfNWFZ) and the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ). At the meeting of last year in August, they discussed further disarmament and non-proliferation from that angle and beyond. They plan to organize a task force underpinned by the document, calling for all the nuclear weapons free zones to strengthen their coordination. This is an opportunity for them to really show their will and decision to implement the conclusions of the 2019 Nur-Sultan Seminar.
“We do not see any further impact in deciding our activities in separate nuclear weapons free zones. This is in fact among the main objectives of the 4th Conferences of the NWFZ, planned last April 2020 and postponed because of COVID-19,” he explained.
He said they want collaborative efforts to first discuss with the nuclear weapons states on the different issues, which remain unresolved, and perhaps contribute to the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, in particular in the Middle East, which is one of the most urgent issues, needing to be addressed at UN level. Enhanced cooperation should continue to consolidate the efforts of all the states that are parties to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties of Pelindaba (Africa); Semipalatinsk (Central Asia); Bangkok (Southeast Asia); Rarotonga (South Pacific); Tlatelolco (Latin America).
They invited the other NWFZs to integrate to their cooperation, the safe and secure peaceful uses of nuclear energy and strengthening education & training and Research & Development programmes in nuclear science and technology. This is why on 8 September 2020, in collaboration with our Partners from the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC), based in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) and the IAEA (Vienna), they will organise a Virtual Conference on Uranium Resources. As you may know, Africa is managing about 20 % of the global uranium resources and Kazakhstan about 14 %. In addition, Kazakhstan has hosted the IAEA Low Enrichment Uranium (LEU) Bank since 2017. This example will be one of the first of other Inter-regional Conferences between the NWFZs.
The Conference on Disarmament and the NPT Review Conference are expected to reach satisfactory results through implementing by all the States of the Resolutions and Action Plans agreed previously. Recently, during the commemoration of the 11th Anniversary of Entry into Force of the Pelindaba Treaty (15 July 2020), they also called for the signature and ratification by all the African Countries of the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). AFCONE is seeing the TPNW as reinforcing global disarmament and non-proliferation.
Both African Union’s 2063 Agenda and universal Agenda 2030 with its 17 SDGs recognize the role of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) as essential enablers for development and place the priority on partnerships as a critical means of implementation.
Due to the growing number of African countries interested in peaceful applications of nuclear techniques to address specific development issues, they already observe the increased needs at national and regional levels for building or further strengthening nuclear infrastructure and enhancing nuclear expertise and know-how to enable the African end-users to respond more effectively to their development priorities.
In this respect, AFCONE, according the recent (December 2019) Report of the Specialised Technical Committee on Education, Science and Technology (STC EST) will be a major vehicle for facilitating and enhancing the development of Nuclear Science & Technology and know-how and their transfer to and amongst the African Countries
All the Countries are benefiting, at different levels, from the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy: These applications, developed safely are used in routine, in generating electricity: according to data for December 2019, the 447 nuclear power reactors are operating worldwide. Thirty countries currently use nuclear power and 28 are considering, planning or actively working to include it in their energy mix.
Considering the rapid economic and population growth in Africa will have profound implications for the energy sector and observing the sustainable solution provide including to address the climate change issue, nuclear power should be considered in the Energy Mix Strategies of African Countries, according to the April 2019 Report of the AUC Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism (TTIIET). This is already the case in several countries (South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and other newcomers).
AFCONE will work closely with the African Union Commission, the IAEA and the State Parties, in order to contribute to the adequate implementation of the nuclear power programmes, respecting the IAEA Milestones Approach enabling a sound development process.
Significant developments are observed in Africa, but there still a lot to do in order to reach the international standards in terms of availability of dedicated equipment, adequate well trained skills to operate and manage safely the specific infrastructure and implementation of quality assurances programmes in the delivering services. Through their activities with all the Stakeholders, including the AU Strategic Partners support, Dr. Baaliouamer said they should be able to improve gradually the situation and make available as much as possible safe and efficient radiation technologies in the majority of the African Union Member States.
The Pelindaba Treaty provisions call for the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, however the Safety, Security and Safeguards are raised with the highest importance. The Article 07 is dedicated to Prohibit dumping radioactive wastes.
In fact, the modern management of radioactive wastes generated is one of the prerequisites for the development of any peaceful nuclear application, including for health. As you may know, more than 10 over the 19 IAEA nuclear infrastructure issues are dedicated to Safety, Security, and Safeguards. Nuclear safety is a national responsibility but remain a global issue.
AFCONE is developing close cooperation with IAEA and the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA) in order to strengthen and fully apply the regulations in the field of radiation safety and security, including the modern management of radioactive wastes.
The African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), aware of the importance to the african and international community of ensuring that the use of nuclear energy is safe, well-regulated, and environmentally sound, recognised the Need to Identify, Select and Designate African Regional Collaborating Centres (RCCs) in Order to Assist Implementing the Activities in the Fields of Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards.
Dr. Baaliouame underlines the main challenges to African countries safely and securely using nuclear energy which are:
- The firm governmental decisions to integrate adequately peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the national socio-economic development plans;
- The safety culture to inculcate at all the levels: from the National Nuclear Regulatory Authorities to all the staff involved in the programmes and the population;
- Capacity-building through the development of the appropriate Human Resources strategy, followed by a sustainable programme of education & training in nuclear science & technology.
“When we recognise that, we understand the Priority to Give to the Excellence in Education & Training and Research & Development in Nuclear Science and Technology in our National and Regional Programmes. AFCONE has decided to encourage the Ownership in this Field through encouraging training the trainers and support to the Youth and Women in Nuclear. The Commission has launched since 2019 the formalisation of its Cooperation programmes with several Partners, including the IAEA (Vienna), ESARDA (JRC/EU), International Science and Technology Centre based in Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan),” he noted.
In fact, all the African Union Strategic Partners, advanced in the field of nuclear science and technology, are identified as potential partners in such programmes for the benefit of the African Experts, Scientists and Youth.
Speaking about the nuclear tests in the East Kazakhstan Region, Ambassador Kanat Tumysh said, they started in 1949 and marked the most tragic times in the history of Kazakhstan. More than 1 million people suffered in the territory of 300 thousand square kilometers, which is equal to the territory of Italy.
In 1991, on 29 August, H.E. Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first President of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, made a historic decision, closing by decree the world’s second largest Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.
Other countries followed Kazakhstan progressive lead and eventually ceased the conduct of nuclear tests globally, and paved the way for the adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Because of the enormous efforts exerted by Kazakhstan’s first President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has rapidly gone from being a possessor of the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world to the being widely recognized as the leading country in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Under His Excellency’s leadership, from the day of Independence, Kazakhstan has strived tirelessly to achieve the goal of a nuclear-free world and thereby turning it into the main task of humanity in the 21st century. Guided by the noble aspiration of a nuclear-free future, Kazakhstan’s leader initiated the adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
Due to the country’s strong efforts, the UNGA adopted this Declaration in December 2015 along with its Resolution 70/57. In the current complex global geo-political environment, the relevance of the Universal Declaration is growing, and the universal principles and obligations on nuclear disarmament enshrined in this important document, should build bridges between different views on the construction of a safer world.
In 2016, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Mr. Nazarbayev presented his conceptual anti-war vision Manifesto entitled “The World: The 21st Century.” The main idea of this treatise was “In no modern warfare will there be winners every party will lose.” Kazakhstan therefore, urges all members of the international community to strive towards a world completely free from nuclear weapons.
Kazakhstan believes it is time to put an end to military block thinking and adapt the disarmament process to new realities by utilizing appropriate confidence-building measures. It proposes the redoubling of the international community’s efforts by consolidating the potential of nuclear-weapon-free zones in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Therefore, by the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan, the city of Nur-Sultan hosted a Joint Meeting of the Representatives of nuclear-weapon-free zones on 28-29 August of 2019.
As Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev noted, putting forward the idea of the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones is one of the most effective means to fight the spread of nuclear weapons.
On 26 August 2020 H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First President of Kazakhstan, the Leader of the Nation (Elbasy) has received the status as a champion for a world free of nuclear tests to highlight Kazakhstan’s historic contribution to the global efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
Many countries nowadays are alarmed by the increasing tensions and potential for conflict all over the globe, especially in recent years. The growing disagreement between main powers intensifies the instability of the current world order, making it less predictable. Financial and trade and economic disagreements are degenerating into political and potentially military conflict. The effectiveness of global development institutions is declining. There is no reassuring news from the Middle East. Apart from that, conflicts on the African continent, unfortunately, continue as well, according to His Excellency Ambassador Kanat Tumysh.
World leaders thus need to think seriously about how to leave a safe, peaceful and prosperous planet to the next generations. To this end, Kazakhstan continues to work actively to strengthen global peace and security, achieve SDGs; ensure prosperity of all nations without exception; rid the world of wars and violence; and maintain adherence to the principles of international rule of law.
Kazakhstan continues to participate actively in all global anti-war efforts and thus provided its strong support to Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General’s the initiative on a new comprehensive disarmament agenda.
Yet, proliferation of nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to humanity, since today hundreds of the 15,000 nuclear bombs stored around the world could be ready to be launched within minutes. This could lead to a global disaster when entire cities all over the world would disappear.
by Embassy of Kazakhstan in Pretoria, South Africa