The NNL will play a key role in the 2.5 million euro ($3.2 million) recently signed agreement between the European Union (EU) and Iraq. The agreement is to help scientists dismantle, decommission and decontaminate nuclear facilities built during the Saddam Hussein regime.
Iraq has tried to clean up ten old nuclear sites around the country but progress has been slow since work began two years ago. The new EU program will train Iraqi scientists and provide equipment to speed up the clearing operation which had been estimated to take up to ten years. So far, scientists have only succeeded in clearing one site in central Baghdad.
“This contract will help boost the abilities (of the scientists) so they will be able to dismantle more complicated facilities,” Iraqi Science and Technology Minister Raed Fahmy told reporters after signing the agreement with the EU in Baghdad.
The EU will spend 1.5 million euros on training and 1 million euros to provide equipment such as radiation detectors and protective clothing. The NNL and BelgoProcess will support the programme requirements in areas such as dismantling, decommissioning and decontamination activities, radioactive waste management and disposal.
Up to 80 Iraqi nuclear scientists will be involved in programme.
“The idea is to exchange scientists and to gain mutual experience and to build capacity,” said Achim Ladwig, the charge d’affaires of the EU delegation to Iraq.