IAEA Chief Grossi Visits Peru: Agreements on Nuclear Technology for Food Security, Mining and Lithium

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: June 21, 2024; 10:22 ♦ (Vindobona)

Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, signed agreements with Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier González-Olaechea to promote nuclear technology use in food security, health, and environmental protection.

The Resident Representative of Peru to the IAEA, HE Mr. Luis Alberto Campana Boluarte (l.) with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi (r.), at the Agency headquarters in Vienna. / Picture: © IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency / Dean Calma / Flickr Attribution (CC BY 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, has signed important agreements during his visit to Peru to promote the use of nuclear technology in the areas of food security, health, and environmental protection. The focus of the visit was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Peruvian Foreign Minister Javier González-Olaechea within the framework of the IAEA's Atoms4Food program. This agreement aims to improve agricultural practices in Peru and increase food security.

Nuclear technology to increase sustainability in agriculture

The Atoms4Food agreement will help Peru implement climate-smart agricultural practices and improve food security through the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques. One example of the success of these techniques is the increased sugar cane production in Peru. The country has also created areas free of the Mediterranean fruit fly through the use of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which enables the export of mangoes without quarantine requirements.

Peru's most important economic sectors, fishing, and mining, are also supported by the IAEA. Grossi signed a declaration with the Minister of Energy and Mines, Rómulo Mucho Mamani, to promote sustainable methods in mining and lithium exploration. A focus was also placed on combating marine pollution caused by microplastics. Cooperation with the IAEA's NUTEC Plastics initiative aims to support sustainable marine ecosystems and mitigate the effects of oil spills such as the one in Ventanilla in 2022.

Progress in cancer treatment and children's health

In addition to the agricultural and environmental initiatives, Grossi visited the National Institute of Child Health in San Borja, where Peru's first tissue bank has been set up with the support of the IAEA. This tissue bank makes it possible to treat burn victims through the use of radiation technology by growing new skin or creating skin grafts.

Another highlight of his visit was the Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Neoplásicas (INEN), where he announced that Peru will receive additional equipment as part of the "Rays of Hope: Cancer Care for All" initiative. This initiative aims to close the global gap in cancer treatment and expand access to radiotherapy.

Recognition and prospects

Grossi was awarded the "Orden al Mérito por Servicios Distinguidos" for his services. This award emphasized the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear technology for Peru's development. Grossi himself described this award as an honor and emphasized Peru's commitment to peace and multilateralism.

During his visit to Peru, Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made an important stop at the Centro Nuclear Óscar Miró Quesada de la Guerra (RACSO). This center plays a central role in Peru's nuclear research and is home to the RP-10 research reactor and a radioactive waste management facility (RWMP).

The RACSO center is the heart of nuclear research at the Peruvian Institute of Nuclear Energy (IPEN). The RP-10 research reactor enables a variety of experiments and applications that are important for both scientific and industrial purposes. The Radioactive Waste Management Plant (RWMP) serves as the central facility for the safe storage of radioactive waste in Peru, which is crucial for environmental protection and public health.

Grossi praised the outstanding research and progress made at the RACSO center. He emphasized the important role that nuclear research plays in sustainable development and technological innovation in Peru. Peru's leadership role in the Regional Network of Research Reactors and Related Institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean (RIALC), which Peru hosted in August 2023, was particularly emphasized.

The IAEA supports the RACSO center through various programs and technical collaborations to strengthen nuclear research and development capabilities. This support includes access to cutting-edge technology, training and expertise that will help Peru continue to play a leading role in the region.

Peru and the IAEA will continue their cooperation to promote sustainable development in agriculture, mining, and fisheries through the use of nuclear technology. The agreements mark an important step in strengthening Peru's national and regional capacities in dealing with nuclear technology and its applications for sustainable development.

Peruvian MFA