Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UN nuclear watchdog chief holds talks in Nigeria


The new head of the UN nuclear watchdog, YukiyaAmano, on Monday held talks here on future cooperation with Nigeria, which plans to build its first nuclear power plant with Russian assistance.

Amano, 62, a Japanese diplomat, chose Nigeria as his first official visit since taking over as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on December 1.

"I discussed future cooperation between Nigeria and the IAEA on nuclear energy, especially the infrastructure to support a nuclear energy programme," Amano told reporters after a meeting with Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and the country's science and technology minister.

Africa's most populous nation with about 150 million people is on the verge of building its first nuclear power plant for which the IAEA is providing technical assistance.

"We are getting people from Moscow to build it for us.... I just came back two days ago from Moscow and it is the Russians who are going to build the nuclear facilities for us, working with Nigerians," Science and Technology Minister Alhassan Bako Zuma said at a press conference with Amano.

Zuma said he signed an accord with the Russians but did not provide details on the plans to give a much needed boost to Nigeria's electricity supply.

Amano said he also discussed cooperation on a cancer therapy programme which the Nigerian president's wife, Hajiya Turai Yar'Adua, is spearheading with the recent launch of an International Cancer Center in the capital city of Abuja. Amano is scheduled to visit the cancer centre on Tuesday as well as a nuclear technology centre at Sheda on the outskirts of Abuja.

Nigeria has been an IAEA member since 1968 and has been receiving assistance from the agency through projects related to radiotherapy and nuclear medicine, water resources, food safety monitoring, nuclear safety, the introduction of nuclear power, agriculture and radioactive waste management.


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