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Chinese efforts to enhance nuclear security contribute to common good: IAEA official

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-03-30 16:17

UNITED NATIONS - China is contributing to the common good through its efforts to improve nuclear security both at home and abroad, a senior official from the International Association for Atomic Energy (IAEA) has said.

China has taken effective steps to ensure the security of nuclear materials, including those at nuclear power plants and medical research centers, and to protect people and environment from being harmed by nuclear materials, Khammar Mrabit, director of the IAEA's Nuclear Security Office, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The interview was conducted ahead of the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., from Thursday to Friday. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the meeting.

Nuclear security refers to ensuring that peaceful uses of nuclear materials and technology are not diverted into the wrong hands, Mrabit said.

"Nuclear security is a common good. It's good for everybody whether you have a nuclear power program or you don't," said Mrabit. "You have to protect your people and the environment from malicious acts and anything that would harm the public society and the environment."

He said countries such as China that own nuclear power programs should bear special responsibilities on nuclear security, while calling on all countries to use radioactive sources at a minimum level, even for medical purposes.

"(Ensuring the) security of such materials and facilities is the responsibility of China because this is the responsibility of each country when you have such materials and such facilities," he said. "That nuclear power program, those installations, have to be protected from falling, of course, into the wrong hands, meaning criminals and terrorists."

In this regard, Mrabit said that China is a very important partner of the IAEA and enjoys sound cooperation with the international nuclear watchdog.

He described China's recently completed Nuclear Security Center of Excellence as "a big achievement."

"(The center) would not only improve nuclear security but would sustain nuclear security infrastructure in China and certainly would contribute... to improving nuclear security in the region," he said.

The center, which is the largest in the Asia-Pacific region, opened in Beijing, the Chinese capital, on March 18, with the aim to boost nuclear security cooperation in the region and the world.

The IAEA supports its member states, including China, to reach nuclear security standards, in some cases providing support as requested, and in other cases providing more hands-on assistance.

For example, China has requested that the IAEA visit China to conduct a peer-review of its national nuclear program and facilities, the official said, adding that the IAEA can provide a higher-level of support to other countries in need.

"There are countries where we need more assistance, where we have what we call integrated logistical support plans, where we identify all that is needed to help them improve their nuclear security infrastructure," Mrabit said. But he did not disclose the names of these countries.

Mrabit, a national from Morocco, has a PhD in nuclear physics and has been working for the IAEA since 1986.

The IAEA is the world's center for cooperation in the nuclear field and a part of the United Nations family. It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, and currently has 168 member states.

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