Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Nuclear Fallout in South Asia and the World

Japan has suffered a massive human tragedy caused by a major 9.0 earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed. Within days of its occurrence, the natural catastrophe has now been completely overshadowed by growing fears of total meltdown at Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole world from California to Pakistan is watching these ominous developments and fearing the worst.

Lacking any oil and gas reserves of its own, the energy-hungry Japan relies heavily on nuclear energy. The nation currently has 55 nuclear plants and 14 more are being planned or built, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's the third largest producer of nuclear energy behind the United States and France, according to Bloomberg News.



South Asian nations of India and Pakistan are looking to ramp up nuclear power production to deal with their chronic energy shortages and to meet growing electricity needs. India has 20 existing nuclear power plants and planning or building 23 more. Pakistan has 2 atomic power plants and currently building or planning 3 more. With 20 atomic reactor plants currently in operation, China is in the midst of a huge ramp with 77 more plants in various stages of planning and construction.

The world's nuclear plant designers, builders and operators have their anxious eyes on Japan to understand the full extent of the problems at Fukushima, and the evolving public reaction to the unfolding events. What do we know so far about it? It appears that the 40-year-old Fukushima plant stood up to the country’s worst earthquake on record March 11 only to have its power and back-up generators knocked out by the 7-meter tsunami that followed. Back-up diesel generators that might have kept the core cool, and averted the disaster were positioned in a basement, where they were inundated by waves and rendered useless.

In addition to the loss of backup power for cooling the core, the other major issue highlighted by the Fukushima disaster is the spent fuel storage. Like Japan, the US stores spent fuel rods on site densely packed in pools at the reactors. It is these spent fuel rods that have lost water and caused a fire from hydrogen explosions in one of the reactors, and released radiations into the atmosphere.

A number of countries, including China, France, Germany and Russia, have suspended the approval process for new nuclear plants and ordered a review of the existing plants since the Japanese nuclear power crisis began. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India has asked for a full safety audit of India's 20 operating nuclear reactors, but India's atomic energy chief Srikumar Banerjee insists that India's plants are "100% safe", according to media reports. Similarly, a statement issued by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission says that their plants’ safety had been assessed by experts from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) over the years....apparently meaning that they are no safer than the Japanese plants built in the 1970s that had similar audits and approval.

The recent Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico tell us that there is no such thing as 100% safe when it comes to producing energy. However, the current nuclear radiation crisis in Japan has the strong potential to reshape the energy debate which was just beginning to favor nuclear energy as green and safe. Let's hope that the outcome forces us to carefully balance safety concerns with the energy needs of growing population amidst shrinking hydrocarbon resources and climate change concerns.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Can Thorium Energy Save Planet Earth?

Pakistan Launches Wind Power Projects

Renewable Energy to Solve Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

India's Growing Population and Depleting Resources

Wind Turbine Manufacturing in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Power Projects

Solar Energy for Sunny Pakistan

Wind Power Tariffs in Pakistan

Pakistan's Twin Energy Shortages

Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technology

Electrification Rates By Country

Renewable Energy for Pakistan

Abundant Cheap Electricity From Pakistani Coal

Pakistan Policy on Renewable Technology

Sugarcane Ethanol Project in Pakistan

Community Based Renewable Energy Project in Pakistan

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

nuclear power is an unnecessarily complicated way to boil water.

It is a very dangerous source of power which produces deadly radioactive waste which lasts for 100,000 years plus.

In addition the feedstock i.e Uranium is pretty hard to find in India and is dominated internationally by anglo countries Australia,Canada etc thus making India susceptible to future blackmail.

It is a BAD idea.You cannot have a 100% safe malfunction free machinery in ANY industry nuclear power is no exception.

Also the high population densities in India almost ensure a bhopal gas tragedy type loss of life in the event of a meltdown.

Mayraj said...

Really scary. I do not understand how they could take these risks being an earthquake and tsunami prone country?
On top of that they have a history of nuke plant coverups and problems. The regulators were in coma it seems!

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj:

California's two nuclear plants are also close to a fault near the ocean. They were both built in the 1970s and probably the same GE design as Fukushima.

Here's a report by Press Enterprise:

Tens of thousands of uranium-laden spent fuel rods, like those at risk of meltdown in Japan, have piled up at Southern California's San Onofre nuclear power plant and other U.S. facilities as government leaders haggle over a solution for long-term storage of the radioactive waste, experts say.

Despite operators' assurances that the plants are built to withstand more than the worst-case threat posed by earthquakes and tsunamis, nuclear researchers contend that a disaster like that unfolding at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant could happen here.

"The meltdown occurring at Japanese reactors can happen. ... San Onofre is near (earthquake) faults that could trigger such an event," or the plant could be breached by an equipment malfunction or terrorism, said Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at UC Santa Cruz and a member of the nonprofit Committee to Bridge the Gap, a Sherman Oaks-based nuclear watchdog group.

"The risk is not trivial," he said.

Hirsch is among those critical of continued nuclear power generation in the United States when the country has no permanent storage solution for the waste, which takes millions of years to lose potency.

At U.S. nuclear plants, spent fuel rods are cycled out of reactors every 18 months or so and placed in deep pools of circulating water to cool. The process takes seven years or more. As the pools reach capacity, the rods are moved to dry-cask storage on site, since there is no national repository.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has estimated that spent-fuel pools in the United States will run out of capacity in 2015.

Riaz Haq said...

No unlike nuclear, the conventional fossil fuels are a dangerous business.

There were 29 deaths in a West Virginia coalmine last year. 26 more died in a Chinese coal mine in Henan province in 2010.

Today, there are reports of 21 deaths in a Pakistani coalmine, according to the BBC:

A series of methane gas explosions at a mine in Pakistan's Balochistan province have killed at least 21 workers, officials say.

Rescue workers are trying to reach about 30 other miners who are trapped.

An official told the BBC that hopes of rescuing the survivors were fading because of a lack of oxygen.

The mine, near the provincial capital, Quetta, was declared dangerous two weeks ago but those warnings were ignored, reports said.

Balochistan is rich in minerals but its mines have a poor safety record.

"We are trying our best to rescue as many workers as we can, but the chance of finding survivors is bleak now," mine inspector Iftikhar Ahmed told the Associated Press news agency.

The mine in the remote Sorange district is owned by the state-run Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, but it was leased to a contractor, officials said.

Action will be taken against those responsible for ignoring warnings to stop mining, they said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's recent Businessweek report on corruption in Japanese construction industry:

The beneficiaries of all that (post WWII) spending were the so-called zenekon, large construction companies such as Kajima, Shimizu, Obayashi, and Taisei. The strength of the zenekon ensures that Japan is ready to rebuild quickly in the wake of its latest—and still unfolding—catastrophe, just as it did after the 1995 Kobe earthquake. But the sector, while a point of pride catered to by the nation's elected leaders and bureaucrats, isn't always a force for good. Proof lies all over Japan—in mammoth tunnels and bridges to nowhere, dams built against the advice of engineers, and seawalls raised over the objections of those they were purported to protect.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009 promising an end to wasteful public works projects and the cozy relationships between zenekon and politicians. The rebuilding of northeastern Japan following the Mar. 11 earthquake and the resulting tsunami and nuclear crisis will test that commitment. "They're going to have to contract out these projects in quick order, and that means companies with really tight ties to the contracting agency get the project," says Brian Woodall, a political scientist at Georgia Tech and author of Japan Under Construction. "It may be an opportunity for interested and powerful politicians to get involved, and that to me is not a good thing."
-----
The zenekon have traditionally been Japan's political kingmakers. From the 1970s until the 1990s, the companies donated generously to Liberal Democratic Party candidates, supporting the party's half-century reign. In a 1992 case that exposed the role the yakuza crime syndicates played in Japan's trucking and construction industries, testimony revealed that the nation's biggest firms had each donated some 20 million yen a year to a single LDP politician. In his book, Woodall describes a construction minister from the 1960s, Kono Ichiro, who would only meet with executives at his home after they paid a kutsunugidai ("shoe removal fee"), a zabutondai ("floor cushion fee"), and a nantokadai ("something-or-other fee"). In return, Japanese administrators and legislators steered public-works contracts to favored companies. And legislators did their best to grow the pot of money set aside for public works projects, especially in their home districts.

The result of all that cronyism and graft: projects like the Joetsu Shinkansen railway, a high-speed line built in the 1970s at the behest of former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka through one of the least populated areas in the country; the Isahaya Bay Project, a controversial series of dikes built by Kajima, Obayashi, and others, to turn a bay into farmland; and the Tokyo Aqua-Line, a nine-mile bridge-tunnel spanning Tokyo Bay, built at a cost of $12 billion by Kajima, and today only lightly used.

Prosecutors have periodically taken on the big firms, most recently in 2007, when the government won convictions against nearly all the zenekon—Obayashi CEO Takeo Obayashi, a descendant of the company's founder, resigned over the investigation, and the nation's farm minister, Toshikatsu Matsuoka, hanged himself. The Democratic Party of Japan's 2009 decision to freeze construction on an immense dam in Naganohara was seen as an attempt to follow through on its reformist campaign rhetoric.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) assessment of the effect of Arab revolt and Japan quake-tsunami on Pakistan's economy:

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Saturday that the global trade shock due to the conflict in Arab world and earthquake and tsunami in Japan remained beneficial for the country’s economy.

In its Monetary Policy Statement for the next two months, SBP said that the scenario helped the country to fetch better export price in international markets.

SBP said that there remains growing uncertainty in the global economic environment. The popular uprising in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and unprecedented damage to the Japanese economy because of an historic earthquake and tsunami have shaken the global economy, which has yet to fully recover from the repercussions of the financial and economic crisis of advanced economies, it said.

One consequence of these developments has been high international commodity prices, especially of oil, it added.

“So far, the terms of trade shock have been favorable for Pakistan’s economy. More than 90 percent of the incremental increase in export earnings during July ñ February, FY11 over the corresponding period of last year has been due to high international prices of Pakistan’s exports.”

SBP said that the contribution of high import prices, particularly of oil, to the import bill has been relatively low, but is substantial and rising.

SBP further said that the turmoil in the Arab region may also influence the flow of remittances to Pakistan. “However, assuming that the inflow of remittances continue its current trend for the remaining months of FY11, there are no immediate risks to the external current account balance,” SBP added.

The financial account inflows such as foreign direct investment and portfolio investments have remained fairly modest during July ñ February FY11, almost half the level of inflows seen in the corresponding period of the last year, which was also small compared to historical levels.

SBP said that the overall balance of payment position appears to be strong at the moment with a gradual build-up of foreign exchange reserves and a stable foreign exchange market. “However, given the uncertainty with respect to foreign inflows, the developments in the external sector will need to be monitored closely in the coming months.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on South Asia's reaction to nuclear crisis at Fukushima, Japan:

The nuclear disaster in Japan has prompted several countries to slow down and even suspend some of their nuclear programmes.

But South Asia - a region that hosts two rival states with nuclear weapons - has made no such move.

No nuclear plants in the region have been shut down nor are any expected to be suspended in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

Instead, the Bangladeshi government announced on Tuesday that it would go ahead with its earlier plan to build a nuclear power plant with the help of Russia.

The Pakistani government has chosen to remain quiet although all three of its nuclear plants are said to face risks from earthquakes or tsunamis.

Major regional player India has announced a review of safety systems in its nuclear power plants but many believe there are no indications for a shift in its pro-nuclear policy.

"India's Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India will try to reassure the people of India that they are far more superior than everybody else in the world and this kind of accident would never happen in Indian facilities," read a statement by the National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movements, a civil campaign in India.

It also accused the authorities of admitting that one of the reactors in south India was built without factoring in the risks from tsunamis.
'No alarm'

Another activist group, the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace said: "The (Fukushima) incident calls for a thorough review and transparent audit of the safety performance of all nuclear reactors in India, as well as of evacuation and other emergency procedures, which are known to be flawed."

In Pakistan also, few civil societies have raised the alarm.

"The aged Karachi nuclear plant on the coast is as much susceptible with as much serious consequence [as nuclear plants in] Japan because of the proximity of a dense population," said the Pakistan Peace Coalition in its statement.

"The two reactors in Chashma are known to be sitting on a number of criss-crossing tectonic plates."

Pakistan's leading newspaper, The Dawn, wrote in its editorial: "The government needs to reassure the people that natural disaster contingencies are in place at the nuclear units."

Riaz Haq said...

US Energy Secretary Chu believes solar and wind will be competitive with energy from fossil fuels without subsidies by 2020. Here's a report:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has unveiled initiatives aiming to make solar power as cheap as fossil fuels, and stimulate 10 GW of offshore wind development, in the next decade.

The DOE said the solar initiative, dubbed as a “sun shot” by energy secretary Steven Chu – in reference to John F. Kennedy’s “moon shot” goal of landing a man on the moon in the 1960s – would reduce the cost of solar power by 75 percent.

Chu said that would put the price of installed solar power at about $1 per watt, or about six cents per kWh, and allow solar energy systems to be broadly deployed across the country.

“That would make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies of any kind,” Chu said, according to Reuters.

The initiative includes $27 million awarded to nine projects to support the development, manufacturing and commercialization of solar energy technologies.

The DOE and Department of the Interior yesterday also announced up to $50.5 million for projects that support offshore wind energy development, and identified several high-priority Wind Energy Areas (pdf) in the mid-Atlantic.

The areas are offshore of Delaware (122 square nautical miles), Maryland (207), New Jersey (417), and Virginia (165), and will receive streamlined reviews to lessen the time for project approval and leasing, the DOE said.

The Department of the Interior said it could offer leases in these areas as early as the end of 2011.

The Interior said it hopes to identify Wind Energy Areas off of north Atlantic states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in March. The department said it will carry out a similar process for the south Atlantic region, especially North Carolina, this spring.

The $50.5 million, spread over five years, is aimed at developing breakthrough offshore wind technology and removing market barriers.

The departments also published a joint plan called the National Offshore Wind Strategy (pdf). The plan calls for deploying 10 GW of offshore wind by 2020 and 54 GW by 2030, with development in both oceans, the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes.

The plan focuses on three key challenges to offshore wind: the high cost, technical challenges, and lack of site data and expertise with permitting processes.

Riaz Haq said...

No source of energy is without risks, including wind. Here's an excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle report:

The long hot summers of the San Joaquin Valley suck great tsunamis of cool coastal air through the Altamont Pass, producing winds so powerful that a person can lean nearly 45 degrees without falling down.

Such awesome force gave birth in the early 1980s to the world's largest collection of wind turbines, pioneers in what is now America's fastest-growing form of renewable energy and an increasingly important weapon in the battle against global warming.

But the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area is also a symbol of the wind industry's biggest stain - the killings of thousands of birds, including majestic golden eagles, by turbines. The result has been a wrenching civil war among those who are otherwise united in the struggle to save the planet and its creatures.

It's been nearly a year since a controversial legal settlement was forged among wildlife groups, wind companies and Alameda County regulators. That agreement, opposed by some parties to the dispute, promised to reduce deaths of golden eagles and three other raptor species by 50 percent in three years and called for the shutdown or relocation of the 300 or so most lethal of the approximately 5,000 windmills at Altamont.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's Chashma nuclear plant unit#2 is now online, according to SANA news:

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Two (CHASNUPP-II) has started power generation on trial basis.

The work on 325-MW power plant was initiated in April 2005 and has been completed ahead of schedule with the cooperation of China.

According to official sources, the plant would formally be inaugurated soon with the addition of 300-MW electricity to the national grid would help meet power shortage and increase economic activity in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report of Indian protest against the "world's biggest nuclear plant" proposed to be built in Maharashtra state:

One person has died after police in western India clashed with locals protesting against the planned construction of a nuclear power plant.

Police said they were forced to open fire after protesters attacked a police station close to the proposed site in Jaitapur, in the state of Maharashtra.

Construction of the $10bn (£6bn) plant - expected to be the biggest in the world - is due to begin this year.

The proposal has sparked massive protests across the country.

Residents in the area gathered near the proposed site, expressing anger at the plan, which they fear threatens their traditional fishing grounds.
'Vandalised'

Madhukar Gaikwad, an official from the Ratnagiri district, said about 700 to 800 fisherman and villagers surrounded a local police station in the village of Nate and started to vandalise it.

"The mob burnt down the records room, destroyed computers and a TV set and put a police van on fire.

"We tried to disperse them by using tear-gas and cane-charge. We used plastic bullets as well, but nothing worked. Finally, we used live ammunition in which one person was injured who died on his way to the hospital," he said.

More than 50 people were injured, including police officers.

Protests have been mounting over the proposed 9,900 megawatt, six-reactor facility, which is being built with technical help from the French energy giant Areva.

Environmental experts say that Konkan, the region in which Jaitapur lies, is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth - and claim it will be destroyed by the plant.

Last December, the Indian magazine Outlook titled an article about the Jaitapur plant "The rape of Eden".

Others have expressed concern that the facility is being built in a seismically-active area.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from BBC's Soutik Biswas on anti-nuke protests at Jaitapur in India:

...By all accounts, the violence was allegedly instigated by a right-wing regional party which is struggling to regain lost political ground in the Konkan coastal area where Jaitapur is located. The upshot of such cynical politics: one 'protestor' dead when police fired on irate villagers, at least 20 wounded, a hospital damaged and passenger buses gutted by the mob.
---------
This is tragic because there are much more significant and vexing issues at stake in Jaitapur. After the disastrous tsunami-induced meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, should India reconsider its push towards nuclear energy? (With the landmark nuclear deal with the US under its belt, India can now import reactors and nuclear fuel.) Will acquiring large tracts of land for nuclear power stations again set the government on a collision course with sections of the unwilling - and sometimes uninformed - farmers?
-------
Critics like Praful Bidwai believe that India's nuclear energy drive will sound the death knell of precious ecosystems - six 1,650 megawatt reactors will be built at Jaitapur on the west coast, it is planned, in what would turn out to be the world's largest 'nuclear park'. They say the government has forcibly acquired farmland using a colonial law to build the plant. Mr Bidwai, who visited Jaitapur, writes that the nuclear plant will be situated on fertile farmland, not barren wastelands as the government would have people believe. Then there is the threat the plant poses to thriving fisheries. Officials say no local will be displaced from his land, although more than 2,000 people have had to sell parts of their land. So are the protests about better compensation for land, and guarantees about safety?

Most scientists I spoke to dismiss a lot of what the campaigners say, insisting that nuclear power is really the only option India is left with to meet its growing energy needs. An astonishing 400 million Indians continue to live in the dark, without electricity. "You have to choose the lesser evil - more carbon dioxide or the threat of radiation," one told me. Smoke-belching thermal power plants use the atmosphere as a "sewer" and impact climate change. Solar and wind energy cannot meet India's energy demands, they say. Ergo, nuclear power, they say, is the only sensible and clean option. That is why India is planning to set up some 30 reactors over as many years and get a quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy by 2050.

Scientists agree the government has to tread carefully in building consensus at the grassroots and while acquiring farmland to set up the nuclear plants - there is no room for forcible acquisition of land at unremunerative prices.

Then there is this shrill debate over the safety of the plant. Critics point out that the French-built reactor meant for Jaitapur has still not been approved by nuclear regulators worldwide. They say that the site is seismically hazardous - the area was apparently hit by 95 earthquakes between 1985 and 2005 - and since it will be built on the coast will be prone to tsunamis.

Scientists dismiss these arguments as naive and ill-informed. India, they say, will not buy these third generation reactors until international and local regulators clear them. India's nuclear regulators say that Jaitapur is in a "significantly low seismic zone" compared with Japan and Fukushima. Also, the reactors will be built on a cliff 82ft (25m) above the mean sea level. With its 20 reactors, India, scientists insist, has a good safety record. (There was a turbine room fire at a plant in 1993, and a sodium leak in another in 2000). "There have been no serious incidents. There has been no radiation leak. Our record is clean," one official said....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Nation Op Ed on Seoul Nuclear Security Summit:

Experts are of the opinion that modest progress had been made in Seoul and many of the tough issues to fully solve the problem were addressed because the participants were unwilling to make binding and transparent agreements. “The current nuclear material security regime is a patchwork of unaccountable voluntary arrangements that are inconsistent across borders…….Consistent standards, transparency to promote international confidence, and national accountability are additions to the regime that are urgently needed,” said Luongo.

The communiqué also omitted a reference to the need for “concrete steps” towards a world without nuclear weapons, a phrase which had been included in an earlier draft statement. A Seoul government official told the media (on condition of anonymity) that some nations had been uncomfortable about expanding the scope of the summit into nuclear weapons reduction and disarmament, and the call for concrete steps.

The Republic of Korea has done a commendable job in steering the conference in a prudent way. One of its striking features is that the conference agenda was kept away from multilateral politics and a consensual approach was adopted. The summit succeeded in creating a shared space for discussion and coordination.

Pakistan has keenly participated in the nuclear security summits. This indicates its continuity of resolve and abiding commitment to the cause. Since the Washington Summit, Pakistan has set up centres of excellence for training and emergency response mechanisms; upgraded physical protection arrangements; and revised export control lists. Following the Fukushima accident, it has conducted thorough stress tests of its nuclear power plants and is in the process of deploying Special Nuclear Materials (SNM) portals on key entry and exit points to prevent illicit trafficking of radioactive materials.

Pakistan is fully committed to continue working at the national level to maintain the highest standards of nuclear security and cooperate with the international community for achieving a secure and peaceful world.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/02-Apr-2012/seoul-summit-2012

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an APP report on Chinese nuclear plants in Pakistan:

Two nuclear power plants, 340 MW each, are under construction at Chashma and are expected to be commissioned by 2016, with Chinese assistance.
Construction of these power plants became possible after a long-standing agreement, whereas three other nuclear power plants already commissioned in the country are performing well.
According to official sources, a major chunk of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) budget has been allocated to the two plants. PAEC envisages production of 8,800 MW by the year 2030 through nuclear power reactors, sources added.
“An amount of Rs 34.6 billion has been set aside for Chashma Nuclear Power Plants, C3 and C4. The total cost of these two projects is Rs 190 billion which will be partially funded by a Rs 136 billion Chinese loan,” said a source.
The government has so far spent Rs 62.4 billion on the mega project having a 660 MW generation capacity. With Rs 34.6 billion additional spending, the government will be able to complete almost half of the work by June 2013, an official said.
According to an official in the Ministry of Science and Technology, the government is harmonising efforts made in the energy sector by different ministries, departments and research centres by creating an Energy Council including heads of relevant organisations.
The council will be entrusted to advice on priority areas for Research and Development (R&D), management of resources and filling existing gaps.
Acquisition of technology for building nuclear power reactors through R&D and transfer of technology agreements is also in consideration, the official said.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/02/22/news/national/two-nuclear-power-plants-to-be-commissioned-by-2016/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on China supplying 1000 MW Chashma 3 nuclear power plant:

China confirmed this week it will sell a new 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor to Pakistan that the United States says would violate Beijing’s obligations under a nuclear supplier control group.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked Monday about a report in the Free Beacon March 22 that first disclosed the secret agreement for the reactor reached last month in Beijing between the China National Nuclear Corp. and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

“China has noted the relevant report,” Hong told reporters in Beijing.

Normally, Chinese government spokesmen deny such reports and label them “groundless” as a way to avoid comment. The spokesman’s use of the phrase “noted the relevant report” is unusual and a tacit admission the report is accurate.

U.S. intelligence and diplomatic officials privately said the agreement was reached in Beijing during a visit by a high-level Pakistani delegation of nuclear industry officials from Feb. 15 to 18.

The Chinese at the meeting urged Pakistan to keep the deal secret to avoid expected international opposition by states that say the sale violates China’s commitment to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 46-member association aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

China agreed in 2004 not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear facility beyond the two reactors that began operating in 2000 and 2011.

However, Hong denied the sale violates the voluntary NSG guidelines.

“The cooperation between China and Pakistan does not violate relevant principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said. “In recent years, China and Pakistan do indeed carry out some joint projects related to civilian use of nuclear energy. These projects are for peaceful purpose only, in compliance with the international obligations shared by both countries, and they are subject to guarantee and monitor by international atomic energy organization.”

However, U.S. intelligence officials said the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) is Beijing’s main nuclear weapons producer and is working to modernize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in addition to the civilian reactor construction at Chashma.

China also is working to develop Pakistan’s nuclear fuel reprocessing capabilities, the officials said....


http://freebeacon.com/concerns-proliferating/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on seismic monitoring in Pakistan:

KARACHI: The project to install new broadband seismic stations equipped with advance technology that was initiated following the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake to strengthen seismic monitoring system, has completed.
Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD) has planned to officially inaugurate these stations on May 16, 2013 in Islamabad. The existing ten broadband seismic stations are British technology and the new stations are based on Chinese technology.
Under the project, ten new broadband seismic stations were installed, bringing the total number to 20 in Pakistan. These new seismic stations, installed in Skardu, Charath, Tarbela, Islamabad, Salt Range Punjab, Fort Munro, Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahore and Nangarparkar, have been integrated with the existing seismic network of the PMD. The project aims at better monitoring of earthquakes and precise earthquake hazard assessment.
On October 8, 2005 an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, killing around 73,000 people and displacing 3.5million in its wake. Followed by the earthquake, when nations around the world were helping financially and were sending relief goods, China promised to strengthen the seismic monitoring system in Pakistan. Pak-China Seismograph Network was initiated and implemented by China Earthquake Network Centre (CENC) and China Earthquake Administration (CEA) to fulfil the promise.
Additionally, state of the art and advanced Very Broad Band (VBB) sensor has also been installed in PMD’s station located in Margla Hills, Islamabad, thus making Pakistan the only South Asian country in possession of this technology.
“This project is a great achievement and now Pakistan has 20 broadband stations, all connected via satellite,” said PMD Seismology Division Islamabad Director Zahid Rafi.
Most of these new broadband stations are installed either in northern areas or in Punjab, however, the coastline of Sindh and Balochistan was not considered in the project.
Pakistan has witnessed several tsunamigenic earthquakes in the past along the coast of the Arabian Sea in Sindh and Balochistan. Several experts forecast destructive tsunamis on these coastlines in the future due to the presence of Makran Subduction Zone or MSZ as the potential source in the region.
Despite these warnings, the Pakistani government has never considered installing the broadband seismometers on the coastal belt.
The PMD official data reveals that out of the existing ten broadband stations only two were installed on Sindh and Balochistan’s coasts; one in Turbat and another in Karachi. However, experts are of the view that due to the presence of MSZ these areas need more broadband stations.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\04\06\story_6-4-2013_pg12_3

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Kyodo News Agency report on Pakistan's plans to build two 1100 MW nuclear power plants near Karachi:

Pakistan's Cabinet Executive Committee approved Thursday setting up two 1,100 megawatt nuclear power plants at the Karachi coast, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said.

He told a press conference the two power plants would be set up by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which is already operating a 137 megawatt nuclear power plant at Karachi known as K-1.

Budget documents had revealed the setting up of only one 1,100 megawatt coastal power plant at Karachi, with Chinese assistance.

The decision to build two plants was taken while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is visiting China to seek Chinese help in a number of development projects, including an energy corridor from Pakistan's Gwadar Port in Baluchistan to the border city Kasghar in China.


http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130704/pakistan-approves-2-nuclear-power-plants

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a WSJ story on Pakistan buying two more nuclear reactors from China:

Pakistan is acquiring two large nuclear power reactors from longtime ally China, officials said, in a $9.1 billion deal that has raised concern in Washington that Beijing is overstepping international rules on transferring nuclear technology.

For Islamabad, the pact with China counters the nuclear energy accord New Delhi signed with the U.S. under then-President George W. Bush. Pakistan regards that arrangement as providing India with an unfair potential strategic advantage for nuclear weapons. Both countries possess a nuclear arsenal.

There is unease in the U.S. and elsewhere over the security of sensitive facilities in Pakistan, where Islamist militants have shown they can attack even the most heavily guarded installations, analysts said. There is also concern the Chinese are willing to circumvent rules locking out countries from nuclear trade if, like Pakistan, they aren't part of to the nonproliferation treaty.

Pakistani officials haven't talked publicly about this latest agreement, which was quietly signed around midyear and closed in early July.
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The reactors covered by the deal would be technologically advanced and built outside the main port city of Karachi. They each would provide 1,000 megawatts of electricity, a big boost for power-starved Pakistan. "Every country has this. We are also entitled," the senior official said. "We have to focus on adding cheaper energy supply."

China would deliver the first reactor in 70 to 80 months, with the second coming 10 months later. Nuclear reactors take several years to build. They would be installed on the Karachi coast close to a small existing reactor, the senior Pakistani official said. The Chinese will provide 82% of the financing through a loan on what another Pakistani official described as very soft terms.
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With the 2005 U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement India, which also isn't part of the nonproliferation treaty, won an NSG exemption to buy nuclear power technology. But legal complications have subsequently stalled the anticipated sale of American nuclear plants to India. These obstacles include the liability for compensation for accidents that now exists under Indian law, following the deadly 1984 accident at a chemical plant owned by Union Carbide, a U.S. company, in the Indian city of Bhopal. But Pakistan has objected to the pact.

Still, Pakistan, which is in a nuclear arms race with India says that accord was discriminatory. "The U.S.-India nuclear deal was very disturbing for the strategic stability of this region," said Sarwar Naqvi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the IAEA. "It put Pakistan at a disadvantage. It freed Indian uranium to be diverted to their military program."

Carnegie Endowment's Mr. Hibbs said that the design of the new 1,000-megawatt reactors that Pakistan will receive is untested, even in China. He added that the price tag doesn't suggest that Islamabad is getting any "bargain." There wasn't competitive bidding on the project.

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As part of his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Sharif called for Pakistan to be allowed to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. "Pakistan qualifies for full access to civil nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, to meet its growing energy needs," Mr. Sharif said.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304561004579137420511807840.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on 2,200 MW nuclear power plant in Karachi:

“The beginning of the 2,200-megawatt power project is indeed a proud moment in the energy history of Pakistan,” Mr. Sharif said at the groundbreaking ceremony in the coastal city of Karachi, which the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Sun Weidong, and officials from Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission attended.

“For achieving the goal of energy, nuclear power will form an increasingly significant component,” Mr. Sharif said, adding that he was told by the Chinese officials that the project, Karachi Coastal Power Project (K-2/K-3), will be completed in six years.
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The cost of the new reactor project is estimated to be $9.59 billion, with China providing extensive construction help and expertise. Further, China will provide maintenance and enriched uranium for fuel.

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China has signaled its intent to expand nuclear energy cooperation with Pakistan in joint statements from their leaders, Mr. Zhang said in a telephone interview.

“Both countries have expressed their willingness to expand cooperation in civilian nuclear energy,” he said. “In that sense, you didn’t need a crystal to see this project coming.”

China is almost certain to deem the new projects as a “grandfathered” extension of nuclear cooperation agreements signed with Pakistan before China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group, meaning that China will not consider seeking approval for the reactors from the group, Mr. Zhang said. He said the major member states in the group, including the United States, also appeared unlikely to go beyond relatively restrained, formulaic expressions of concern about the new reactors.

“My analysis is that this issue won’t trigger too much controversy,” he said. “The Indian government will certainly respond, but I don’t think that this will fundamentally harm Sino-Indian relations, because it’s not something that has come out of the blue. China and India have exchanged views on this many times.”

On the supplier group’s likely response, Mr. Zhang said: “I don’t think the N.S.G. will formally raise this issue, because the experience in the past was that the members would reach an implicit understanding, and so this issue never caused a big fuss in previous N.S.G. meetings.”
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“China’s supplies to Pakistan are under full I.A.E.A. safeguards,” said Mansoor Ahmed, a Pakistani analyst who is a visiting research scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Center, Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, N.M. “However, the Chinese have chosen to ignore criticism with regard to the N.S.G. restrictions, which are subject to various interpretations, in view of the India-U.S. nuclear deal.”

Mr. Ahmed also stressed that the two reactors were being sold under a civilian nuclear cooperation framework concluded in 1986 before China becoming a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1992 and the N.S.G. in 2004. “Therefore, the Chinese don’t need N.S.G. approval for the sale of new reactors in spite of Indian protests,” he said.

Mr. Sharif on Tuesday also announced plans to build six more civilian nuclear plants in other parts of the country. But Mr. Zhang said that China was unlikely to build any more nuclear reactors in Pakistan beyond the two units in Karachi.

The choice of Karachi is significant as it is considered Pakistan’s economic and trade center. “Today people look with envy toward cities like Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore,” Mr. Sharif said in his speech, which was broadcast live on state-run television.

“I wish to see Karachi in this list of harbors and industrial hubs.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/27/world/asia/pakistan-breaks-ground-on-nuclear-power-plant-project-with-china.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=0

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on Chinese financing big-money projects in Pakistan:

Pakistan's recent launch of work on its largest nuclear power plant is the latest example of big-money Chinese infrastructure projects in the troubled nation.

Pakistan, plagued by a homegrown Taliban insurgency, is battling to get its economy back on track and solve a chronic energy crisis that cripples industry.

Politicians in Beijing and Islamabad are fond of extolling the profundity of their friendship in flowery rhetoric and on the ground this has translated into around 10,000 Chinese engineers and workers flocking to Pakistan.

Chinese companies are working on more than 100 major projects in energy, roads and technology, according to Pakistani officials, with an estimated US$18 billion expected to be invested in the coming years.

"Some projects are being done by the government, then most of the projects are being done by the Chinese companies, by the provinces and also with the state enterprises and authorities," said Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's federal minister for planning and development. "In the energy sector, Chinese engineers are building up to 15 power projects that include hydel [hydroelectric], thermal and nuclear plants."

Pakistan faces an electricity shortfall of around 4,000 megawatts in the sweltering summer, leading to lengthy blackouts that make ordinary people's lives a misery and have strangled economic growth.

To combat the crisis, Pakistan has sought Chinese help in building power-generation projects across the country, including nuclear. Aside from the 2,200MW project near Karachi recently launched by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chinese companies built two of Pakistan's three operational reactors. Chinese engineers are also busy in the construction of a 969MW hydropower project in Kashmir. They have also committed to generate 6,000MW of electricity from coal and wind in southern Sindh province.

But co-operation goes beyond energy. Visiting in May during his first overseas trip after taking office, Premier Li Keqiang linked growth in his country's restive west with that in Pakistan, saying the two sides wanted to create an "economic corridor" to boost development.

The concept involves improving road and rail networks to link China through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea and Iqbal said its benefits would extend to other neighbouring countries.

"The biggest flagship project is going to be the economic corridor," he said. "I hope with its completion, we will be able to create opportunities not just for China and Pakistan but for the entire region."


http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1376341/string-big-money-projects-china-deepens-ties-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Energy Business Review report on Chashma 3 and 4 nuclear power plants progress:

China's State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) has installed the containment dome atop of the containment building of the unit 4 of the Chashma Nuclear Power Complex (CHASNUPP), located near Chashma city, Punjab, Pakistan.

The installation of dome, which weighs 185t, and measures 36m in diameter, and 9m in height, 72 days ahead of schedule, represents a significant milestone in the construction of the second of two reactors being constructed by Chinese companies in the country, World Nuclear News reports.

The general contractor for the third and fourth 340MWe pressurized water reactors (PWRs) is China Zhongyuan Engineering, while the reactor design was provided by the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering and Research Design Institute.

CHASNUPP's first and second 300MWe PWRs were also supplied by China.

Construction of units 3 and 4 commenced in May and December 2011, respectively, and the units are scheduled to start commercial operation in December 2016 and October 2017.


http://www.energy-business-review.com/news/chashma-nuclear-power-complex-unit4s-construction-moves-ahead-100114-4158128

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on Pakistan in talks to acquire 3 more large nuclear power plants in addition to 2 recently announced for Karachi:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan is in talks with China to acquire three large nuclear power plants for some $13 billion, Pakistani officials said, in a further blow to international efforts to restrict the trade in nuclear technology.

The deal is in addition to last year's agreement to build two Chinese reactors in Pakistan's southern port of Karachi.

The agreement, if reached, would help plug the crippling gap in Pakistan's electricity supply and cement its strategic regional alliance with China, which is aimed against mutual rival India. Alarming Washington, the China-Pakistan nuclear trade bypasses international rules against nuclear exports to countries—like Pakistan—that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Negotiations are going on currently with China "for three more plants," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told his cabinet's meeting this month, according to those present.

The three Chinese reactors would likely be located in the center of the country, in Punjab province, at a site now being prepared, officials said. Two advanced 1,100-megawatt reactors from China are already due to be built near the southern port of Karachi, under a $9 billion agreement completed last year. Mr. Sharif led the groundbreaking ceremony for the Karachi reactors in November but the discussions about the additional plants have not been made public until now.
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Mark Hibbs, an expert on nuclear issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an independent research organization based in Washington, said that the Nuclear Suppliers Group was "clearly in a crisis that has continued to escalate" as a result of the trade taking place with India and Pakistan. The rules of the group had no binding force, as it is a voluntary arrangement, he said.
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Pakistan produces between 12,000 MW and 14,000 MW of electricity, while demand is at least 18,000 MW, according to the ministry of power, causing hours of power outages every day across the country. Demand is set to rise sharply with the ballooning population.

Nuclear energy provides just 750 MW of power currently, through two Chinese-built 330 MW plants at Chashma, in Punjab province, and a tiny, aged, plant outside Karachi. China is currently building two more plants of the same size at Chashma, boosting nuclear output to 1,400 MW by 2016. The plan for the future is to acquire much larger 1,100 MW plants from China, including the two new reactors for Karachi.
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Ansar Parvez, chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which builds and runs the country's nuclear power plants, said that the country's aim is to generate 8,800 MW of nuclear power by 2030.
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That target requires Pakistan to build six to seven large nuclear power plants, including the two already scheduled for Karachi. Each such plant costs $4 billion to $4.5 billion, said Mr. Parvez.

----
A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, defended the countries' nuclear cooperation in December, which she said was in accordance with the countries' international obligations.

"In the future, the Chinese side wishes to continue offering help to the best of its ability to resolve the electricity-shortage issue," Ms. Hua had said.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304757004579332460821261146?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304757004579332460821261146.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Pakistan's civilian nuclear efforts:

ISLAMABAD: Despite facing various kinds of embargoes to obtain nuclear equipment, Pakistan will continue to develop its civil nuclear capability in a bid to diversify its energy mix and overcome power crisis, an official said.

Pakistan’s nuclear installations are safe from terrorist attacks as the outer container installed at the nuclear power plants can save them in case of missile attack or even hitting an aero plane similar to that of 9/11 attack on the twin towers in the US.

“Pakistan’s situation is quite different from that of India, as the Nuclear Supply Group has not imposed restrictions on them and even Australia is providing them uranium. We are hopeful that embargoes imposed on us for getting uranium will be lifted down the line over the next five to 10 years,” Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Chairman Dr Ansar Parvez said, while briefing reporters on the occasion of media workshop organised by the PAEC on Saturday.
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In the concluding daylong workshop, the PAEC chairman said that Pakistan is facing various kinds of embargoes but the government has given its indication that whatever would be possible it would be done to install 42,000MW through nuclear power plants till 2050.

The PAEC chairman said that he was quite optimistic that time will come down the line in the next five to 10 years after lifting of embargoes on Pakistan.
----------

To another question about the possibility of seeking civil nuclear cooperation from the US as it did in the case of India, Dr Parvez said that there is no commercial agreement signed between the US and India.

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About the cost of nuclear power plants, he said that the nuclear energy plant costs around $4 million per megawatt that was not cheaper but in the long run, the energy generated through these plants costs cheaper as compared to other sources such as fuel and wind.

Despite all difficulties, Pakistan is continuing its nuclear energy programme with the help of China, he said, adding that three nuclear plants are already working in the country and two other are near completion.

Nuclear energy, he said, is important for Pakistan due to its sustainability and low generation cost. In the near future, PAEC is going to start building two more plants in Karachi with 2,200MW generation capacity, which are likely to be completed in 2021.

Dr Inam Ur Rehman, who is among the pioneers of the country’s nuclear programme, said that Pakistan developed the required human resource and now capable to run its programme without the help of anyone.

The scientists of the PAEC briefed about the safety measures and said that there is no safety issues with the nuclear plants in Pakistan and they are built keeping in view the extreme circumstances.

Pakistan, they said, is now using third generation nuclear equipment and that is 500 times safer as compared to the equipment installed in Fukushima and Chernobyl where nuclear accidents took place.

But, they said, that even in the case of Chernobyl and Fukushima no mass killing was observed.

Nuclear energy generation plants are not that dangerous at all, as they are perceived and all the international research reports deny that a mass killing took place after an accident in any nuclear energy generation plant.

There was no chance of leakage of radiation from these plants in any circumstances, they said.

The speakers also said that there are around 71 nuclear plants under-construction worldwide having almost 70,000 megawatts generation capacity.

All the modern and advanced countries were using nuclear power to meet their energy demands......


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-229956-Pakistan-continues-to-develop-civil-nuclear-capability:-PAEC

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on Pakistan's commitment to civil use of nuclear energy:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Pakistan intended to use nuclear technology in order to address the country’s severe energy crisis.
Talking to Director General International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiyo Amino here at the Prime Minister House, the premier said Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was helping the country to meet its power requirements with expansion of the Chashma nuclear projects and new nuclear power plants in Karachi.
Terming the help of IAEA as key, Nawaz said Pakistan was making use of nuclear technology in several areas including power production, medicine, agriculture, food preservation and water management for the benefit of the people.
The premier also assuaged fears of proliferation, reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation (despite remaining one of the three countries to have never signed the non-proliferation treaty), adding that “all our current nuclear power plants as well as research reactors are under IAEA safeguards and all obligations are being fulfilled adequately.”
Nawaz appreciated the positive role played by the Agency in the development of peaceful use of nuclear technology in Pakistan, for human resource development in various scientific disciplines and establishment of research and development facilities at different centers in the country.
He said the government of Pakistan valued its relationship with IAEA and said this cooperation shall be strengthened in the time ahead.
IAEA director general appreciated Pakistan’s commitment to use of nuclear energy for the benefit of its people and extended his support for the cause.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/681534/pakistans-nuclear-programme-for-civil-energy-purposes-says-nawaz/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on Pakistan's participation in Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in The Hague:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appealed on Monday for international cooperation and assistance that will give his country access to nuclear technology for a civilian energy programme — the lynchpin of its strategy to overcome chronic energy shortages.
“Energy deficit is one of the most serious crises facing Pakistan,” PM Nawaz told delegates at the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. “As we revive our economy, we look forward to international cooperation and assistance for nuclear energy under IAEA safeguards,” he said.
Leaders from 53 countries, US, EU, International Atomic Energy Agency and Interpol are attending the nuclear summit.
The prime minister also called for Pakistan’s inclusion in all international export control regimes, especially the Nuclear Suppliers Group. International treaties and forums, according to him, should supplement national actions to fortify nuclear security.
At the same time he reiterated “the highest importance” that his country attached to nuclear security. because it was directly linked to the country’s national security.
“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state and pursues a policy of nuclear restraint, as well as credible minimum deterrence,” he said.
“Our region needs peace and stability for economic development that benefits its people. That is why, I strongly advocate nuclear restraint, balance in conventional forces and ways to resolve conflicts,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister paid tribute to US President Barack Obama for launching the nuclear security summit process four years ago. Pakistan has been running a safe, secure and safeguarded civil nuclear programme for more than 40 years and the country has the expertise, manpower and infrastructure to produce civil nuclear energy.
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He said Pakistan’s nuclear materials, facilities and assets were safe and secure and the country’s nuclear security regime was anchored in the principle of multi-layered defence for the entire spectrum – insider, outsider or cyber threat.
Islamabad has established a centre of excellence that conducts intense specialised courses in nuclear security, physical protection and personnel reliability, he said, adding that Pakistan was ready to share its best practices and training facilities with other interested states in the region and beyond.
Dealing with radiological threats
He said his country had also deployed radiation detection mechanisms at several exit and entry points to prevent illicit trafficking of radioactive and nuclear materials.
Similarly, he said, all countries should continue to take measures to secure their nuclear facilities and materials and prevent any perceived nuclear terrorist threat. “We all need radioactive sources for hospitals, industry and research; but should be vigilant about radiological threats,” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/686956/hague-summit-nawaz-makes-case-for-civil-nuclear-energy/