12 March 2018
Islamabad: Mr Yukia Armano, Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Islamabad earlier today on his second visit to Pakistan in 5 years. During the three day visit, Mr. Armano will meet with the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss strengthening Pakistan-IAEA cooperation in the peaceful applications of nuclear technology. He will also visit the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) centers in Islamabad, Faisalabad, and Karachi.
The visit comes following the recent agreement by Pakistan with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of safeguards at K-2 & K-3. The draft of the Agreement was approved during the IAEA Board of Governors (BoG) meeting in March 2017. Pakistan has also formally applied for the membership of the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG); NSG is a voluntary association aims to prevent nuclear proliferation by implementing guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports. Pakistan believes that NSG membership should be criteria-based and non-discriminatory.
Prior to this, DG IAEA has visited Pakistan in March, 2014 when he met with President Mamnoon Hussain, the then Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, as well as officials from PAEC and Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA). Mr. Amano also inaugurated the Pakistan Center of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) in 2014, while admiring the impressive training activities being carried out by Pakistani authorities.
The intention to establish a Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (CoE), which would act a hub of training for regional countries in the areas of physical protection and nuclear security was outlined by Pakistan at the 2012 at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. Since, then, and in close partnership with the IAEA, Pakistan has organized various courses and training workshops for professionals working in the fields of nuclear safety, security and physical protection. The PCENS is working closely with the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS).
Pakistan is a founding member of the IAEA, and has a history of excellent cooperation and partnership with the IAEA. Being an energy-deficient country facing acute power shortages, which are hampering national development, the government of Pakistan is exploring every potential avenue to meet these growing demands, including the possibility of nuclear energy to plug the deficit. Currently, four Nuclear Power Plants (K-1, C-1, C-2 and C-3, C-4) are in operation in the country, and two bigger units (K-2 & K-3) of 1100 MW each, are under construction near Karachi. These plants are expected to add a sizeable share of electricity to the national grid.
Unlike our eastern neighbor, all of Pakistan’s civil nuclear reactors are under IAEA safeguards, without exception. Pakistan is fully compliant of its obligations under international agreements, and remains committed to continuing and expanding cooperation with the Agency. Pakistan’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) has also expressed a strong desire to “continue to contribute meaningfully towards the global efforts to improve nuclear and expand international cooperation in these areas and play a positive role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a provider of expertise and services in peaceful nuclear application.” Furthermore, the NCA has appreciated the role of nuclear applications in the fields of “health, agriculture, medicine and industry” in the development of Pakistan.
Keeping in view the four decade of experience, and a strong nuclear safety and security culture and record, as well as highly robust command and control mechanisms, Pakistan should be eligible to provide nuclear “fuel cycle services” under IAEA, based on “non-discriminatory” nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanisms. Additionally, Pakistan is also qualified to become a member of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and other high tech cartels. These legitimate aspirations are reinforced by 42 years of safe and secure operations of nuclear power plants under IAEA safeguards, without a single nuclear incident or accident. The further strengthening of cooperation with the IAEA will be a positive addition to Pakistan’s nuclear portfolio.
Author bio: Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed by the author do not represent the institute. He tweets @tahirdss
Send this to a friend