Pakistan is in a position not only to use nuclear energy for its national programmes for development and progress, but also can provide assistance to other countries of the region in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, writes Rabia Javed for South Asia Monitor
The Government of Pakistan established a 12-member committee of scientists for the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology. In 1956, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was constitutionally established by a parliamentary act as part of the prime minister’s nuclear policy. Today, PAEC is pursuing numerous programmes and doing research and development in many diverse scientific areas, including basic and applied sciences, food, agriculture, and biotechnology, human health, energy, and industry.
Over the years, Pakistan has been commendably successful in the application of nuclear energy and technology for the benefit and development of society. Additionally, Pakistan has placed sufficient human resources capable of taking up more challenging assignments to harness nuclear energy for the economic progress of the country.
Nuclear energy for economic progress
The nuclear programme of Pakistan is effectively contributing to the welfare of people and towards the attainment of sustainable development goals. To illustrate, PAEC is putting a lot of emphasis on peaceful applications of nuclear energy in the medical sector. In this regard, the organization has so far established 15 nuclear medicine and oncology hospitals throughout the country. These achievements are a matter of national pride.
Highlighting the civilian use of nuclear resources, Pakistan has used its Centers of Excellence to promote and share best practices in nuclear security through three affiliated institutes - the Pakistan Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS), the National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS), and the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS).
Similarly, Pakistan has also achieved excellence in operating safe and secure nuclear energy plants. It is evident from the history, when in 1959; PAEC had signed an agreement with Canadian General Electric Company for construction of a 137 megawatt electrical (MWe) nuclear reactor in Karachi. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant-1 (KANUPP-1 or K-1) started commercial operations in 1972 under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) facility-specific safeguards.
Karachi was the first Pakistani city to benefit from nuclear energy after KANUPP was connected to the grid. The construction of two more units i.e. (KANUPP-2 and KANUPP-3) is ongoing, when completed it will bring more energy to the metropolis. The Karachi Coastal Power Project is part of Pakistan’s Nuclear Energy Vision Programme that seeks to generate 44,000 MW of electric power by 2050.
Promoting nuclear safety
Pakistan is proactively engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security. Nuclear power plants in Pakistan are under IAEA safeguards. All these efforts of expanding nuclear energy programme are in pursuit of a clean and effective option to address Pakistan’s energy deficit and meet the international community’s ambitious goal of lowering global temperatures by two degrees in the next 30 years.
To further secure its civil nuclear materials, Pakistan has joined the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). Pakistan has introduced an extensive institutional and legislative response to secure sensitive technologies and nuclear materials to implement UN Resolution 1540.
Pakistan - a responsible nuclear state
It is highly commendable that despite being embargoed under organized hypocrisy of the global nuclear order, Pakistan is one of the 30 countries that operate nuclear fuel cycle and operational power plants.
Pakistan’s clean history in utilizing nuclear energy programme is a clear depiction of its national resolve and commitment towards effective implementation of stringent peaceful nuclear programme. Pakistan is in a position not only to use nuclear energy for its national programmes for development and progress, but also can provide assistance to other countries of the region in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
There is a need to admire the efforts and commitments that Pakistan has in place for its peaceful nuclear programme by recognizing Pakistan as a responsible nuclear state. Pakistan has an inherent interest in pursuing safe and efficient forms of civil nuclear energy and should continue investing in this sector.
(The writer is a graduate in defence and diplomatic studies from Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed are personal)