VIENNA    -   Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Muhammad Naeem Thursday lauded the role of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for allowing use of nuclear technology to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) earlier set by the United Nations. Addressing the 63rd IAEA General Conference being held here, he said, IAEA should continue promoting the development through use of nuclear technology in mitigation, monitoring and adaptation.

Pakistan would continue to utilize the enormous potential of nuclear technology for socio-economic development of the country and to realize the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as, he said, nuclear technology applications were being used in diverse areas of electricity generation, health, agriculture, hydrology, industry, environment and basic sciences.

Pakistan is holding an exhibition in the Rotunda to showcase the work it has undertaken in peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, on the sidelines of the general conference. Many developing countries, including Pakistan, remain vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change he added.

Faced with a severe energy crisis, the decision to expand nuclear power programme was hardly a matter of choice for Pakistan, he said, adding, the nuclear power generation provided a cleaner, cheaper and more sustainable alternative for energy security.

“Pakistan has been reaping the benefits of nuclear power since 1972 in a safe, secure and safeguarded manner. Currently, five nuclear power plants are in operation and two 1100 MW each near Karachi are expected to be connected to the grid in next two years. All civilian nuclear facilities in Pakistan are under IAEA safeguards without any exception,” he said.

“Pakistan’s national goal is to expand nuclear energy capacity to 40,000 MWe as envisaged in National Nuclear Energy Vision 2050. In order to meet this target,” he said, “Pakistan looks forward to removal of barriers for gaining equitable and non-discriminatory access for the international civil nuclear cooperation.”

In the vital area of nuclear medicine, he said, 18 nuclear medical centers focusing on cancer treatment were working under Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and two more were under construction. “These hospitals serve nearly one million patients each year. We continue to believe that choice of nuclear technology rests with the member states and the IAEA’s facilitation role is extremely important in this regard.”

Chairman PAEC appreciated IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Programme, in which Pakistan has always participated actively for mutual benefits and continues to remain a major beneficiary of the Programme. Pakistan strongly supports ensuring sufficient, assured and predictable resources to carry out agency’s statutory responsibilities “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”, he said. Expressing hope, he said IAEA would continue to play its due role in coordinating international efforts to strengthen nuclear safety and security.

Nuclear security is a ‘state responsibility’ and In Pakistan, comprehensive nuclear safety and security regime had already been developed which was regularly reviewed and updated in the light of IAEA guidance documents and international best practices.

The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), set up in 2001 enjoys complete independence which continues to review and update its regulations in light of extensive national experience and IAEA standards. During preceding year three additional regulations were issued to this effect. In pursuit of safe use of nuclear technology, PNRA is building capacity of other embarking countries, and has recently concluded an agreement with Nigerian Regulatory Authority under IAEA aegis. 

Pakistan has also developed “Regulations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Installation (PAK/925)”, which are based on IAEA nuclear security recommendations contained in INFCIRC/225/Rev5. Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) has grown into a regional and international hub for nuclear security training and has conducted various IAEA courses with participants from over 45 countries. As a further demonstration of Pakistan’s commitment towards nuclear security, Pakistan has recently joined Nuclear Security Contact Group by subscribing to INFCIRC/899 and subscribes to IAEA’s Supplementary Guidance on Management of Disused Radioactive Sources. Moreover, Pakistan is also actively considering undertaking an IPPAS Mission at the earliest opportune time.

Mr. Naeem mentioned that this year Pakistan had the privilege of welcoming Mr. Mikhail Chudakov, DDG Nuclear Energy. DDG NE visited the two nuclear power plant sites in Pakistan and highly appreciated the professional competence of trained manpower and safety and security measures being taken at country’s facilities.

He concluded by highlighting that Pakistan stands ready to further strengthen its partnership with the IAEA and will continue to contribute to the Agency’s efforts to build capacity in other countries, inter alia, by providing experts and services.