Nuclear security highest priority on national agenda: PAEC Chief

VIENNA: Pakistan considers nuclear security as a national responsibility and accords it the highest priority in its national construct, Chairman Pakistan Automic Energy Commission (PAEC) Mohammad Naeem said on Wednesday.

“It has established a purpose-raised standalone, specially trained, and equipped nuclear security force with land, air and seaborne component,” Mohammad Naeem said while addressing 61st Annual General Conference of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) being held in Austria.

He said Pakistan’s commitment to ensure transparent and safe operation of nuclear facilities is endorsed with the fact that it set up Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), back in 2001 as an

autonomous body endowed with complete independence from the operators with its regulations based on the IAEA safety standards.

Moreover, Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) has been fully operationalized and PCENS and IAEA collaboration has also increased over the years, he said.

National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) are also rendering valuable contributions in training and education in various related disciplines at both national and international levels, he said.

Mohammad Naeem said: “We are committed to utilize maximum benefits from the peaceful applications of nuclear energy. We now have numerous nuclear faculties for exploiting beneficial aspects in the diverse areas of energy, health, agriculture, hydrology, industry environment and basic sciences.”

Chairman PAEC said that Pakistan has always enjoyed a very productive and mutually beneficial relationship with the IAEA to harness the vast potential of nuclear technology – the most significant of which for Pakistan is nuclear power.

After running KANUPP for over four and a half decades, he said “We have this year connected our fourth and fifth power plants (Chashma-3 and 4) to the national grid. Civil constructions of two other large nuclear power plants of 1100 MWe each near Karachi are proceeding on schedule.”

“Pakistan is committed to keep all its nuclear power facilities under IAEA Safeguards”, PAEC Chief said adding that Pakistan looks forward to IAEA’s support for gaining equitable and non-discriminatory access to civil nuclear cooperation to meet its energy needs.

“Due to acute electric power shortage in the country we have started looking at nuclear power as a viable option. In this era of climate change, with global warming due to escalating generation of greenhouse gases, nuclear power is a promising option for countries which cannot afford renewables,” he said.

Pakistan ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 11th November 2016 and the country is committed to address the energy needs while remaining cognizant of the threat of global warming, he said.

He thanked the IAEA for its technical support and cooperation and congratulated the newly elected president, vice presidents and Chairman of Committee of the Whole on their selection assuring them full support and cooperation of his delegation.

He also extended felicitations to Director General (DG) IAEA, Yukiya Amano on re-appointment for another term.