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#264April 2023

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear infrastructure review mission finished its work in Kazakhstan. Experts note progress in this area.

The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission is designed to provide independent expert assistance to the IAEA Member States. International experts evaluate the status of the national infrastructure for the introduction of a safe, reliable and sustainable nuclear power program. INIR missions are held at the request of national governments. Before receiving an INIR mission, the country must complete a self-evaluation of 19 nuclear power infrastructure issues in accordance with the IAEA methodology.

The first INIR mission was held in 2009, and 24 countries have received INIR experts since then.

In Astana, the INIR mission spent four days evaluating the country’s progress in implementing the recommendations and suggestions of the INIR mission held in 2016. That year, Kazakhstan’s nuclear infrastructure was reviewed, and the country was given a number of improvement recommendations. This time, the INIR mission team said Kazakhstan had fully implemented the recommendations regarding the nuclear power program coordination, understanding of nuclear power plant financing, emergency planning, and radioactive waste management.

“Kazakhstan has made significant progress in implementing the recommendations and suggestions made by the INIR mission in 2016. All these efforts will further support the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan in its decision to launch a nuclear power program,” says INIR mission team leader Mehmet Ceyhan, a nuclear engineer at the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.

According to the team, Kazakhstan should continue to work toward completing a comprehensive report and assessment of the nuclear energy infrastructure financing. The country needs to develop a regulatory framework and a policy of involving industrial companies in the nuclear sector.

“Kazakhstan appreciates the IAEA’s role in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and is taking all the measures necessary to ensure that our nuclear power program meets the highest safety standards and international best practices. The INIR mission is a valuable tool for us in identifying areas for improvement and ensuring the availability of the infrastructure necessary for the development of nuclear energy in Kazakhstan,” says Vice Minister of Energy Zhandos Nurmaganbetov.

Kazakhstan authorities are currently reviewing potential construction sites for the country’s first nuclear power plant. Last year, it was announced that a site near the village of Ulken in Zhambyl District, Almaty Region, was under consideration.

Late this February, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Roman Sklyar said that design engineering of Kazakhstan’s first nuclear power plant would take a long time. “The preliminary location is Almaty Region. As for further steps, we will first conduct a feasibility study and, after it is reviewed, we will proceed with the development of engineering and construction documents. This matter is not on our current agenda. We are only considering potential sites and have not yet launched a feasibility study,” he said.

Public hearings will be held in the Zhambyl District later this year to choose a nuclear power plant site. They were first scheduled for February 28 but then postponed for an indefinite time. “Due to the early termination of the powers of maslikhats and preparations for the election, it is currently not possible to ensure the presence of representatives of local authorities,” the press service of the Zhambyl District Administration said in a statement.

At present, Kazakhstan is studying proposals for the construction of a nuclear power plant from the world’s leading technology suppliers, including Rosatom (Russia), KHNP (South Korea), CNNC (China) and EDF (France).