Nuclear programme in safe hands: Pakistani official

Nuclear programme in safe hands: Pakistani official

The top Pakistani official overseeing the development of civil nuclear projects has sought to dispel concerns about safety, saying the programme is in "safe hands".

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), for the first time in recent years, arranged a workshop for reporters to brief them on operating procedures at nuclear power plants, their safety mechanism and other key issues.

Addressing the workshop held on Saturday, PAEC Chairman Ansar Parvez rejected all concerns regarding the safety of the nuclear programme.

"By the Grace of Allah, the programme is in safe hands," he was quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.

Pakistan's nuclear installations are safe from terror attacks as the outer container installed in atomic power plants can protect them from a missile attack or an assault with an aircraft similar to the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, the News daily reported.

Despite facing various kinds of embargoes on obtaining nuclear equipment, Pakistan will continue to develop its civil nuclear capability to diversify its energy mix and overcome a power crisis, the report said.

Referring to emergencies caused by a possible mishap, PAEC Engineering Director Khawar Naveed said an emergency classification system had been developed by the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) based on the International Atomic Energy Agency's guidelines.

He said emergency plans for each nuclear plant were prepared by PAEC and approved by PNRA. Emergency plans are updated periodically and tested in exercises under the supervision of PNRA, he added.

PAEC Director Ghulam Rasool Athar said the organisation plans to produce 42,000 MW of electricity by 2050.

The US last week said it was confident that Pakistan is aware of its responsibilities regarding its nuclear weapons. A joint statement issued after the ministerial level US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue stated Secretary of State John Kerry had "expressed confidence in Pakistan's commitment and dedication to nuclear security and appreciated Pakistan's efforts to improve its strategic trade controls".

The US statement came after a report in The New York Times raised questions about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

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