Morocco enjoys international recognition as a leader in nuclear security despite its lack of nuclear capabilities.
Rabat – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described Morocco as a model for monitoring nuclear research reactors in Africa and beyond in an official bulletin today.
The IAEA called the country an “example to follow” in terms of its nuclear site inspection, independence, and reliability, highlighting Morocco’s “TRIGA Mark II” nuclear research reactor.
The “TRIGA Mark II” research reactor is the largest nuclear research facility in Morocco and part of the National Center for Nuclear Energy, Sciences, and Techniques (CNESTEN). The reactor contributes to various activities related to research and training in nuclear medicine, industrial applications, and radioactive waste management, the IAEA statement continued.
“Morocco has succeeded in guaranteeing the precision and accuracy of the organization and control of any activity involving radioactive sources,” said the director of the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security (AMSSNuR), Khammar Mrabit, in the statement.
Moroccan nuclear experts respect nuclear safety regulations and laws, and the country’s specialists are constantly developing mechanisms for monitoring and inspection based on an independent system, Mrabit added.
The IAEA underlined its close cooperation with Morocco in nuclear safety, highlighting the 2014 Law No. 142-12 on nuclear and radiological safety and security.
The bulletin also celebrated AMSSNuR, an independent Moroccan nuclear and radiological monitoring body, and the strong technical cooperation the IAEA enjoys with Morocco through various special support missions.
Morocco’s central role in nuclear security
Morocco enjoys international recognition as a leader in nuclear security despite the fact it has not developed nuclear capabilities. South Africa is currently the only African country with a nuclear power station, but Morocco, as a net energy importer, aspires to develop nuclear technology in the future to meet its energy needs.
In 2007, Morocco developed its first nuclear facility, MA-RI, near Rabat, for research in nuclear energy, neutron activation analysis, geochronology research, education, and training.
The IAEA gave Morocco clearance in 2016 to begin a nuclear power project by 2030. In its 2016 assessment, the IAEA determined that “Morocco has the experience and skills that would enable it to launch its nuclear power program” and had an early awareness of needs for “human resources and training capacities in the nuclear field.”
Since earning the approval of the international agency, Morocco has signed several treaties, conventions, and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). The country also signed a cooperation agreement with the United States of America, called the African Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development, and Training Related to Nuclear Energy (AFRA).
Morocco is the Implementation and Assessment Group Coordinator (IAG) of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) after 88 countries voted in the country’s favor in June 2019. In its role as IAG, Morocco implements the GICNT’s priorities and ensures the initiative’s activities complement international efforts against nuclear terrorism.
Morocco is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to assume such responsibilities, and the appointment recognizes Morocco’s efforts in fighting terrorism at the national and global levels.
In October 2019, AMSSNuR, in cooperation with the IAEA, hosted the third International Regulator’s Conference on Nuclear Security in Marrakech. The US and Spain hosted the two previous conferences in 2012 and 2016, respectively.
The IAEA’s latest praise for Morocco’s nuclear research capacity indicates the country’s aim to invest in nuclear power is on track. As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the national economy, Morocco is certainly looking for ways to reduce imports and shore up domestic resources—and nuclear energy may offer a long-term solution.