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Securing Africa's Nuclear Resources
29 March 2011

The need to better secure nuclear and other radioactive material and associated technologies has been on the international agenda for many years. However, it has taken on heightened significance in recent times as a result of the uncovering of an international nuclear smuggling ring – the A.Q. Kahn network  – in 2004, implicating a number of citizens of various countries in spreading sensitive nuclear technologies without authorisation; and, post-9/11 evidence suggesting that Al Qaeda-linked groups may have an interest in acquiring or developing a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and in particular a nuclear or radiological explosive/dispersal device. Africa is not immune to the impact of this potential threat and therefore nor to the need to ensure the security of nuclear materials as a key element of the continent`s overall security architecture. 

In 2010/2011, the Institute for Security Studies` (ISS), with support from the British High Commission in South Africa, undertook preliminary research into the topic and hosted an experts workshop on ‘Securing Africa`s Nuclear Resources` bringing together a range of African stakeholders including officials from various South African government departments, African national nuclear regulators, power plants, atomic energy commissions and radiation protection authorities, the Africa Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA); the African Union (AU); and, the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA).

This resulting publication consists of two main sections with two annexes. Section 1 consists of an outline and initial assessment of nuclear security with particular reference to Africa. This assessment addresses the central research question of how the challenge of securing nuclear materials on the African continent is currently being addressed by investigating existing and future activities undertaken by African governments together with the implementation support and compliance bodies of the various treaties governing the control of nuclear material, such as the IAEA. Section 2 is the Chairperson`s Summary of the expert workshop on ‘Securing Africa`s Nuclear Resources` referred to above. The summary, prepared by the organisers, provides an overview of the issues and themes discussed at the workshop as well as the outcomes, recommendations and a proposed way forward.

Compiled by: Amelia Broodryk and Noel Stott

This publication was made possible with the financial support of the British High Commission in South Africa