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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 17:43 GMT
World Cup 'dirty bomb' threat
The flag of the IAEA
The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is co-operating with the South African government to avert a potential "dirty bomb" attack at the 2010 World Cup.

Tselio Maqubela, South Africa's chief nuclear director, said security at existing nuclear facilities met international standards but there were 'concerns' from the IAEA over radioactive sources used in hospitals and other industries.

"We will be looking at that, particularly going towards the 2010 Football World Cup, because part of the requirements is to have a nuclear security plan which would reduce the threat of dirty bombs," Maqubela told a parliament briefing.

A dirty bomb is where radioactive material is combined with a conventional bomb so that on explosion, contaminating radioactive debris, or chemical and biological substances are spread over a wide area.

He said the IAEA was assisting South Africa, the only country in Africa operating a nuclear power plant, to formulate security plans to cover a wide range of possible nuclear sources.

"We just need to make sure that our radioactive material never finds its way to undesirable elements," Maqubela said.

The issue of "dirty bombs" assembled from radioactive nuclear waste is a global concern, with security agencies and governments fearful that attackers could detonate such a bomb with devastating consequences.

South Africa's nuclear power plant at Koeberg was breached by Greenpeace activists in 2002, when six protestors managed to clamber up a wall in a pre-dawn raid and hoist a banner reading: "Nukes out of Africa".

Security at Koeberg came under a new spotlight in February 2006 when Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin suggested that "sabotage" was behind a misplaced bolt which caused extensive damage to the facility in the previous December, contributing to power shortages.

The government later said it had been unable to conclude if the placement of the bolt had been deliberate.


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