To the advantage of the nation and its neighbours, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the IAEA will expand their cooperation in the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology, particularly in agriculture and medicine.
That was the result of Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi's two-day visit to Pakistan earlier this week, during which he met with members of the Pakistani government, including the Prime and Foreign Ministers, and travelled to many nuclear facilities across the nation, some of which he also inaugurated.
During his first meeting, Mr. Grossi met with the prime minister. The two discussed how Pakistan is benefiting from nuclear science and IAEA assistance as well as the worsening effects of climate change on the nation.
Pakistan has consistently been listed as one of the ten most vulnerable nations to climate change. Last summer, the country was hit hard by flooding linked to climate change, which resulted in widespread population displacement and $40 billion in economic losses.
The IAEA and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in coordination and consultation with Pakistani authorities, developed an emergency support package to help that nation use nuclear science to better understand the impact of the flood on soils, crops, and the potential spread of animal and zoonotic diseases.
The IAEA's efforts to advance peace and development worldwide were supported by the Prime Minister, who also expressed his desire to intensify cooperation with the Agency in agriculture and medicine.
The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is a facility beset with nuclear safety and security challenges brought on by the country's war, and the two also discussed nuclear safety and security in Ukraine, where Mr. Grossi is a leading advocate for efforts to establish a protection zone around the plant.
In a meeting with the foreign minister, Mr. Grossi stated that there are many opportunities for the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology in Pakistan, highlighting how IAEA projects and nuclear applications are addressing issues with access to cancer treatment and climate change.
According to foreign minister, Pakistan and the IAEA will grow their cooperation and expand the use of nuclear applications in addressing issues like climate change, water security, energy access, and food security.
Mr. Grossi met with the Minister of Planning and Development in Islamabad to talk about how Pakistan's vulnerability to climate change can be addressed through the use of nuclear technology. The IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, an effort to support the development of gender-balanced capacities in the nuclear sector, was discussed during the Director General's meeting with Pakistani fellows of the programme.
Pakistan currently operates six nuclear power reactors at two sites, which generate about 10% of the country's total and almost a quarter of its low-carbon electricity. During his trip, Mr Grossi visited Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, 250 kilometres south of Islamabad, and inaugurated the site's new spent fuel dry storage facility.
He also visited the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), an IAEA partner in work related to human health, nutrition and water analysis, and the Pakistan Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Security (PCENS). He was impressed by the high standard of the facility and looked forward to further collaboration. Mr Grossi inaugurated Cyberknife, a new cancer treatment facility in Islamabad.
He also visited the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB) in Faisalabad, designating it as an IAEA Collaborating Centre in agriculture and biotechnology. He planted a Sago Palm at the site and spoke about the IAEA's collaboration with the facility in developing climate change resilient cotton varieties. NIAB is also a national laboratory under the IAEA's ZODIAC initiative.
Mr Grossi visited the National Institute of Safety and Security, the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre (NRECC), and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) in Islamabad.
He was honoured to inaugurate the National Radiation Emergency Coordination Centre (NRECC) and had a meaningful exchange with the Commission on the comprehensive and cohesive nature of the country's peaceful nuclear programme.
He concluded his visit in Islamabad with a seminar on climate change mitigation, which highlighted the role of the IAEA in supporting climate-vulnerable countries in addressing the climate crisis with nuclear science and technology.