Uzbekistan’s nuclear power programme benefits from strong governmental support and shows a clear commitment to safety, security and non-proliferation, an International Atomic Energy Agency team said after ending a 12-day mission to the country to review its development of infrastructure for a nuclear power programme.

The agency’s integrated nuclear infrastructure review (INIR) was carried out at the invitation of the government of Uzbekistan.

The team added that Uzbekistan has made significant progress in nuclear power project development and taken steps to improve its legal and regulatory framework and strengthen the regulatory body.

However, it called on Uzbekistan to adhere to international legal instruments to which it is not yet a party, such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and its Protocol. The government should ensure a consistent and complete legal framework for nuclear safety and security by consolidating and strengthening legislation.

Uzbekistan also needs to ensure adequate human and financial resources for the nuclear regulatory body. Work remains to be completed on project related studies, environmental assessment procedures, stakeholder engagement activities and construction management capabilities.

Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country of 33 million people and a major global uranium supplier, is looking to nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost electricity generating capacity. In 2017 the country signed an intergovernmental agreement with Russia to construct two VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors to be commissioned by 2030. In 2019 Uzbekistan initiated the process to select a site for its first nuclear power plant.

Uzbekistan said in November 2020 it was waiting for the results of feasibility studies being carried out by state nuclear agency Uzatom before making a final decision on whether or not to proceed with a nuclear new-build programme. The country says it aims to develop low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear power, solar, hydro and wind energy.

Last year Uzatom was reported in local media as saying engineering and geological work was continuing at “a priority site” in an area near Lake Tuzkan in Jizzakh province, west of the capital Tashkent in the east of the country. “Also, contract negotiations are continuing with [Russian state nuclear corporation] Rosatom to agree on the terms of the main contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant,” Uzatom said.

Date: Saturday, 05 June 2021
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