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IAEA Director General in Pakistan: Nuclear Power and SDGs Highlighted

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IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano commended efforts by Pakistan to increase nuclear safety and security as the country works to triple its nuclear power capacity. Mr Amano was also briefed on the use of nuclear technology in health care and agriculture. Mr Amano was in Pakistan on 12-14 March.

In Karachi, at the site of the KANUPP nuclear power plant, Mr Amano observed work on the construction of two new reactors and saw the physical protection measures that had been implemented. The two reactors, due to be completed in 2021 and 2022, will have a combined capacity of over 2000 MW of electricity, close to 10% of the country’s total.

During his meeting with Mr Amano, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi commended the IAEA for the support provided to Pakistan in the use of peaceful nuclear applications. Pakistan “was ready to further strengthen its partnership with the IAEA and contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Amano expressed his appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation with the IAEA and its active contribution to the Agency’s efforts to build capacity in other countries in the region by providing experts and hosting training courses.

In Islamabad, Mr Amano was briefed by the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Muhammad Naeem, on the Commission’s role in overseeing the increasing use of peaceful nuclear technology to meet the country’s development goals.

In his meetings at the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Mr Amano was informed about the steps Pakistan is taking to further strengthening nuclear safety. The regulator and the Commission are working in tandem, with the regulator playing a key role, including in the establishment of a robust safety culture at nuclear facilities.

The IAEA launched a four-year project launched this year to help bring together key institutions in Pakistan to work more closely on the safe, reliable and sustainable operation of nuclear power plants.

New Radiation Oncology Suite inaugurated

Mr Amano attended the opening of an International Conference on Advances in Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine organised by the Nuclear Medicine, Oncology & Radiotherapy Institute, where he inaugurated a new Radiation Oncology Suite.

He highlighted the IAEA’s assistance in strengthening cancer hospitals in developing countries to provide treatment to patients to international standards.

Mr Amano provided an overview of the IAEA’s support in procuring radiotherapy equipment, training medical staff and upgrading radiotherapy centres. He noted the importance of effective safety measures to protect patients and staff from harmful exposure to radiation.

Food safety: new lab

In Faisalabad, Mr Amano inaugurated the food safety laboratory of the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, which uses nuclear and other modern techniques in agriculture and biology to address challenges for crop production and conservation. He was also briefed on the Institute’s work to develop new strains of cotton, wheat, rice and other crops.

The IAEA helped to establish Pakistan’s first Veterinary Residue Laboratory, which now carries out food safety tests to international standards. “The new laboratory can test meat and other food products and certify that they do not contain veterinary drug residues that exceed safety limits,” Mr Amano said.

Last year, the Veterinary Residue Laboratory earned International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation. This is likely to boost the country’s meat exports, which could be significant for the economy as the livestock sector accounts for 12 percent of GDP in Pakistan.

Peaceful nuclear applications

On the last day of his visit, in Karachi, Mr Amano gave the keynote address to a Seminar on the Peaceful Uses on Nuclear Energy and Pakistan — Nuclear Technology for Sustainable Development. He highlighted the importance of transferring nuclear technology to the developing world as one of the most important areas of the IAEA’s work.

“The IAEA contributes directly to the achievement of nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. “We focus on transferring knowledge and expertise. High-quality technical training helps countries to build their own expertise so they can train future generations of nuclear specialists.”

 “In some areas, such as nuclear energy, safety and security, we are the leading international organization. In others, such as human health and food and agriculture, we play a supporting role – but a very effective one. Our goal, always, is to achieve concrete results,” he added.

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