The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has undertaken to empower the relevant security apparatuses in Botswana with the right skills and acumen to be able to detect and arrest anyone involved in the movement and transportation of harmful radioactive material during the course of the World Cup games due in June 2010.
Carter Morupisi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, acknowledged the move thus, “Botswana, as member of the IAEA, has signed binding agreements that oblige her to ensure accountability and safe disposition of all radioactive substances within her sovereignty.”
The agreements include the Safeguard Agreements and Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Revised Supplementary Agreements and Convention on Physical protection of nuclear materials.
Again, Morupisi pointed out that previous effort to enhance radiation safety have resulted in the passing of the Radiation Protection Act, of 2006, the Regulations of 2008 and the establishment of the Radiation Inspectorate all of which the senior official proudly expressed delight, in the fact that they are now fully functional.
In the same vein, and as a giant leap in the strengthening of what has already been started, Government is currently in the process of developing an integrated nuclear support plan (INSSP) agreement to both enhance nuclear safety and in an attempt to find a foothold within the broader international IAEA systems.
Speaking to the Sunday Standard on the sidelines of the meeting which was held at the Gaborone Sun Hotel grounds, a nuclear expert from the agency, Scott Purvis could not deny that they feared for the use of chemical weapons by terrorists during the World Cup games.
However, neither of the authorities, namely Botswana Government or IAEA was ready to admit to having initiated the just ended workshop on radiation.
Purvis has said that authorities have asked to help as part of their routine security business to come up with a draft agreement for ultimate endorsement by the agency in the context of its national watchdog role on matters appertaining to radiation protection.
Stephen Williams, Director of the Department of Radiation Protection (DRP) said, “The IAEA happened to be aware of our plans to have an intensive training of trainers workshop where their role would be very paramount, sometime during the course of the year, and so they successfully persuaded us to make it earlier.”
Accordingly, Williams said it was decided the workshop be held the first of March, only five weeks ahead of the June deadline for the beginning of the FIFA finals.
Williams intimated that the training then, is intended to be more intensive, and upon completion officers are expected to be given pagers with the capacity to detect any material containing elements with potential for use as explosives.
This comes against the backdrop of revelations that the borders are apparently porous, and that there are no effective equipment to detect any dangerous materials upon entry or departure at the borders. A similar situation reportedly prevails at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSK).
“Even though Botswana does not have significant quantities of radioactive material, it is nonetheless necessary to prevent the potential for its being used either against citizens here or in neighbouring countries,” posited the IAEA envoy.
Besides, Purvis acknowledged that a team from the agency is busy consulting with the Government of South Africa on how best the IAEA can help ensure the safety and security status of the country during the FIFA events.
He added that, this is a normal part of the agency’s practice whenever there are events of this nature around the world.