Lawmakers on Thursday unanimously considered and ratified the Gambia’s membership of the International Atomic Energy Agency following the recent approval of the country’s membership by the IAEA Board and General Conference.
Tabling the Motion before deputies, Hon. Pa Ousman Jarju, the Minister of Environment, said the IAEA is a specialised agency within the United Nations, created in 1957 as the world’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ organisation to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies. He stated that it comprises of 167 member states as of November 2015, noting that although established independently under the UN through its own international treaty, the IAEA reports to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. He disclosed further that this makes the country obliged to meet certain reporting obligation to the IAEA.
“Further to that, the government of The Gambia requested through IAEA, a team of experts in Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security to visit The Gambia from 9th-11th January 2012 to conduct an advisory mission in order to evaluate the current status of the legislative and regulatory infrastructure for regulatory control of radiation sources at national level and provide guidance in the areas where deficiencies were identified. Programme arrangements were made by the National Environment Agency (NEA) which was identified as the lead institution with regard to IAEA issues in The Gambia and also provided premises, as well as logistical and technical support for the conduct of the mission,” he said.
Minister Jarju noted that even though The Gambia currently does not have nuclear power or research reactor facility, there are multiple sources of radiation which are detrimental to human health and the environment. By far, he added, the most significant sources of radiation exposure to the public are from medical procedures such as x-ray, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy.
“Quite a number of people are also exposed to radiation from consumer products such as tobacco, building materials, combustible fuels security scanners and laboratory equipment,” he stressed.
“Secondly, the issue of Nuclear Security is a global concern taking into account the global challenges of terrorism for malicious motive and the illicit movement of such dangerous material across borders for financial reason that may fall into wrong hands for ill-intentions.”
Minister Jarju said it is important that the population is sensitised on the implications of nuclear and radioactive related sources, with respect to human health, the environment and the socio-economic infrastructure of the nation and for the government of The Gambia to accede and attain full membership to the IAEA for the benefit of her people and the world at large.
The sensitisation and programme development, he added, would be coordinated by the NEA and its line Ministry in collaboration with Ministries of Defence and Interior, and other research institutions.
Seconding the Motion, Hon. Abdou Kolley, NAM for Kombo South, informed that the Agency would seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world. He stated that it would also ensure that assistance provided is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose.
He informed his colleagues that The Gambia is a superpower of peace.