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Monday 14 December 2020

Gate to Africa Exercise: Experience of Morocco, an 'International Reference' (IAEA)

Gate to Africa Exercise: Experience of Morocco, an 'International Reference' (IAEA)

The experience of Morocco and Spain in managing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear events "could be considered as an international reference," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) points out in a document on the participation of the two countries in the Gate to Africa exercise programme, held in 2015.

"The Gate to Africa exercise programme enhanced the national capabilities of both Morocco and Spain, as well as bilateral cooperation between them, which is necessary for the secure transport of radioactive material," the agency underlines in a document on "The Gate to Africa Exercise Programme: Morocco-Spain joint tabletop and field exercises on maritime security of radioactive material in transport".

The joint exercises highlighted the need for improved international support and coordination in order to enhance the security regime for international shipments, the source says, adding that the exercises allowed for the practical application of security tactics and radiological response procedures of the security and other response forces that participated in the exercise.

The exercises provided for a better understanding of the complex nature of these types of shipment, as well as of the necessary planning and coordination needed for a secure radioactive material shipment, the document notes, adding that the exercises highlighted additional areas of concern, such as radiological consequence management or radioactive material outside of regulatory control that might be studied and addressed in future joint activities.

The scenarios in these exercises tested security plans and contingency response plans for radioactive material transport between Spain and Morocco.

The IAEA publication details the planning, conduct and evaluation of the Gate to Africa exercise programme of joint tabletop and field exercises held in 2015 and covering the maritime transport security of radioactive materials. It details the methodology used and lessons to be learned.

The Gate to Africa joint exercises addressed nuclear security as it relates to the security of radioactive material during transport. The exercises included two distinct phases: a TTX phase and an FEX phase that evaluated national preparations and implementation for the security of the transport operation.

The exercises addressed the security of the maritime transport of radioactive sources from the port of Algeciras, Spain, to the port of Tanger-Med, Morocco. 

The main goal of the Gate to Africa exercises was to discuss and evaluate preparedness and response to a potential nuclear security event involving the transport of radioactive material. The aims were to identify lessons learned, areas for improvement and good practices related to these arrangements.

The applicable Moroccan and Spanish institutions were identified, trained and tested at the national and international level, the agency says, adding that the exercises provided a mechanism through which to examine transport situations that permitted

discussions on the roles and responsibilities of the appropriate authorities and entities with direct responsibility for the transport of radioactive material.

The exercises aimed to improve cooperation and information exchange among Morocco, Spain and the IAEA, it underlines.

MAP 14 December 2020