The cabinet on Wednesday, November 11, approved three presidential orders on accession of Rwanda to different international treaties relating to the nuclear industry, ushering the country into the future of the nuclear industry.
The approved presidential orders relate to nuclear accidents, fuel management and physical protection of nuclear material.
The cabinet approved Rwanda’s accession to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, a key international treaty adopted in Vienna, Austria, following the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident.
The Convention is a 1986 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) treaty whereby states have agreed to provide notification of any nuclear accident that occurs within its jurisdiction that could affect other states.
Countries that sign to the Convention agree to alert the International Atomic Energy Agency and other states in case an accident that happens within its territory has the potential of affecting another state.
Such information to be reported includes the incident’s time, location and the suspected amount of radioactivity release.
The cabinet also approved another order relating to Rwanda’s accession to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management, the first global treaty to address radioactive waste management.
The Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete said last month in a press briefing that Rwanda was committing to the international rules as part of the country’s journey towards developing and promoting nuclear technology and science.
“Any country on the development path globally uses elements that consist of nuclear technology, from scanners on doorways to radiology equipment in hospitals,” he argued in October.
To be able to advance in science and technology which is the country’s vision, he added that there is no way “we can ignore the potential nuclear industry presents to us.”
The cabinet also approved a presidential order ratifying the amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material such as uranium, plutonium, and thorium.
The Convention is the only international legally binding undertaking in the area of physical protection of nuclear material, according to IAEA, establishing measures to prevent, detect and punish offences relating to nuclear material.
That is important simply because nuclear material is highly delicate, and its exposure damages human health and environment – scientifically, it kills cells or causes mutations to DNA.
A Diplomatic Conference in July 2005 was convened to amend the Convention and strengthen its provisions.
The amended Convention makes it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage as well as transport.
The move by Rwanda to accede to international conventions reflects the country’s commitment towards safety protection and waste management as it seeks to develop its nuclear industry.