Dr Tauseef Aized With the sixth largest population in the world, we are admittedly an energy-starved nation having a prolonged history of planned and unplanned outages. The energy crisis had been quite intense during the eighties and early nineties which was overcome through the establishment of IPPs. At the beginning of the current decade, Pakistan was planning to earn foreign exchange by exporting electrical energy to neighbouring countries as the country had a surplus energy until 2005. But power demand increased with the passage of time and now we are facing an ever-worse electricity crisis with a shortfall mounting to approximately 4000 MW during this summer. The current national demand is estimated as 18000 MW which would increase to 20000 MW next summer. Currently, Pakistan is heavily dependent on thermal power generation with a share of around 63 percent followed by hydel generation amounting to 32 percent. The third source is nuclear power generation with a meagre contribution of 2.34 percent, whereas nuclear sources contribute more towards energy mix of many other countries. The biggest nuclear power producer in the world is the US with an amount of more than 100, 000 MW capacity followed by Japan and France which generate 78,000 MW and 63,000 MW respectively. France is particularly conspicuous as nuclear energy contributes about 77 percent in its total generation which is the highest in the world. India produces more than 4000 MW through its 17 nuclear reactors. Nuclear power plants exploit nuclear fission to generate energy through reaction of uranium - 235 inside a reactor. The uranium atoms are split during the fission reaction to release a large amount of energy. The released energy heats water to produce steam which spins a turbine generator to produce electricity. Nuclear power is a sustainable energy that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on foreign oil. Additionally, nuclear plants are generally reliable from a capacity point of view and their fuel cost is low compared with other generation plants. A recent study conducted in the UK has shown that nuclear power is cheaper as compared to coal and wind power generation options. Nevertheless, nuclear plants require high plant decommissioning and waste storage costs, in addition to enormous capital cost required for plant building. Pakistan has two nuclear reactors of 425 MW power to generate electricity. The first plant of 125 MW known as KANUPP started its commercial operation in 1972 in Karachi and the other called CHASHNUPP commenced power production in Chashma in 2000. Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) is working to add two more plants each at Karachi and Chashma as a part of its ongoing civilian nuclear programme. All these reactors are under the safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Another reactor is Pakistan Nuclear Power fuel complex (1000 MW) which is constructed by PAEC under IAEA safeguard. Nuclear reactor is a complex technology with a lot of security concerns. Pakistan has already collaborated with China for the development of this technology and this relationship must be strengthened in order to accomplish future projects. Lately, there are some emerging prospects with France in the nuclear technology power generation field which, if realised, would have substantial impact regarding our national energy needs as France has an excellent track record in this field. After the US-India nuclear deal, Pakistan should endeavour to negotiate civilian nuclear agreements with countries having such capabilities. Additionally, indigenous resources must be rigorously employed to develop local technology. In the end, it is important to mention here that the international community has several security concerns about the possibility of using reactors as a dual-use technology, whereby apparently peaceful technological development could serve as a means to nuclear weapons capability. Part of the radioactive material produced in some types of nuclear reactors has the potential to be used to make nuclear weapons. An additional concern with nuclear power plants is that if nuclear waste generated by the plant were to be left unprotected, it could be stolen and used as a radiological weapon commonly called a dirty bomb. There were incidents in post-Soviet Russia of nuclear plant workers attempting to sell radioactive material on the open market. These apprehensions must be addressed thoroughly through the development of credible security mechanisms to ensure the functioning of the programme for peaceful purposes. The writer is a professor at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore and currently, research fellow at the Monash University, Melbourne, Australia E-mail:tauseef_aized@yahoo.com