IAEA conference tackles challenges nations face in starting nuclear programs

Belarus' Ostrovets Nuclear Plant construction site
Belarus' Ostrovets Nuclear Plant construction site | Courtesy of the IAEA/Directorate for NPP Construction of Belarus

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report this week detailing the Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of Nuclear Power Infrastructure, which took place earlier this month at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

A main focus of this conference was the challenges that countries often face in the development phases of their respective nuclear energy programs. Many countries in these early stages face obstacles and challenges, which the IAEA said often includes the complexity of developing regulatory frameworks and a rigorous licensing process.

In addition, the financial commitment toward nuclear development is a significant one.

Representatives from several countries with fledgling nuclear programs spoke at the conference about the challenges inherent in launching such endeavors.

“Embarking on a nuclear-power program is a serious undertaking that requires significant financial resources, as well as the implicit responsibility to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place,” Milko Kovachev, head of the IAEA Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section, said. “A country should start a nuclear power program only when it is ready and can be realistic about the time and resources involved.”

The IAEA cited Belarus as an example of a nation that's just getting started. Its nuclear energy program was initiated in 2008, and it is currently in the process of building two nuclear reactors at Ostrovets, expected to be completed by 2018 and 2020. New countries in nuclear development have adopted the IAEA’s Milestones Approach in determining necessary measures and regulation, the IAEA said.

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