Pakistan wants to build more N-power plants, IAEA told


Pakistan's Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology building .— AFP file photo
Pakistan's Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology building .— AFP file photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it needs to build more nuclear power plants to ease its severe energy crisis.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Dr Ansar Parvez told the annual general conference of the IAEA in Vienna on Thursday that Pakistan was committed to synergising its efforts with those of the agency to harness the vast potential of nuclear technology.

Pakistan had the experience, credentials and potential to become a recipient as well as a supplier of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, Dr Parvez said.

The country wanted to play its part at the international level as a mainstream partner, including as full member of the export control regimes, particularly the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The PAEC chairman said that Pakistan was committed to keeping all its current and future civilian nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards and controls. But as the nuclear power programme expanded, so must the emphasis on safety and security of the installations.

The new plants being acquired for the site in Karachi were generation-III plants, equip­ped with enhanced safety features, he said.

The Fukushima Response Action Plan to assess and upgrade the safety of power plants, he said, was initiated immediately after the Fukushima accident and some immediate and mid-term steps had already been implemented.

Pakistan set up its first nuclear power plant, Kanupp, in 1972 and more than 40 years of its safe operation had provided confidence to the PAEC to pursue further the option of nuclear power plants, he said.

The PAEC chairman said the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant’s two units, built with Chinese assistance, were running smoothly.

The performance of the two units had made policymakers realise that the cost of electricity produced by nuclear plants was lower than that from all other means of power generation, except hydropower projects, Dr Parvez said.

Two more units, Chashma-3 and Chashma-4, were currently under construction and were expected to be completed on schedule.

Another two units were being built in Karachi and with the completion of these two units the PAEC would begin to make a sizeable contribution to electricity generation in the country, he said.

He said that Pakistan had firm regulatory infrastructure in place, adding the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority had based its regulations on the IAEA safety standards.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2014