Head of IAEA visits Cuba

20 May 2019

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano has commended the "concrete results" that Cuba has achieved through joint projects with the agency. He met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel during a visit to the country on 17 May.

IAEA Director General Amano met with President Díaz-Cane during his visit to Cuba (Image: Office of the President, Cuba)

Positive results achieved in IAEA technical cooperation projects and Cuba's commitment to cooperation with other countries in the region in the peaceful use of nuclear technologies were the main topics discussed during Amano's visit.

"The concrete results that Cuba has achieved in joint projects with the IAEA are commendable," Amano told Díaz-Canel, who was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Minister of Science, Technology and Environment Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya.

Díaz-Canel said that "the relationship between the IAEA and Cuba is excellent" and reaffirmed Cuba's readiness and willingness to continue the close cooperation with the IAEA. He recognised the agency's support in the use of nuclear technology and capacity building. The President also underscored the importance of the IAEA's support in assisting Cuba in the application of new nuclear techniques in health care, particularly in combating cancer, which is one of the leading causes of mortality in the country.

During his visit to the CIMEQ Hospital in Havana, Amano was briefed on the progress of a cyclotron facility, supported by the IAEA. The facility is being used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other non-communicable diseases. He expressed the commitment of the IAEA to continue to support the country's cancer control programme.

Other topics discussed included the support provided to Cuba by the IAEA in food irradiation and in combatting mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya, with the use of the sterile insect technique, an environmentally friendly technology that uses irradiation to control insects.

Amano expressed his appreciation for Cuba's support to the IAEA's regional cooperation programme through capacity building and participation in expert missions to other countries, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean.

Díaz-Canel reaffirmed Cuba's willingness to continue providing support and technical assistance to countries in the Caribbean and beyond.

The President underlined Cuba's commitment to further contribute to projects under the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARCAL), whose presidency the country is assuming today in an event marking the 35th anniversary of the agreement.

Cuba does not have any operating nuclear power plants or research reactors.

In 1976, with Soviet encouragement, a twin VVER-440 plant was planned at Juragua on the south coast. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the project was suspended in 1992 after USD1.1 billion had been spent. In 1996 Cuba and Russia discussed reviving it, but the two countries abandoned the project in 2000. The first reactor has already been supplied and 37% of the equipment was installed, with the civil construction largely complete.

In September 2016, Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom signed a new agreement with Cuba creating "the legal basis for further bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear power". The scope included: "medicine and radiation technology; training of nuclear specialists; fundamental and applied research, [and] management of radioactive wastes".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News