A parliamentary committee approves Egypt joining IAEA's Convention on Nuclear Safety

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 14 Jun 2023

The Egyptian parliament's Energy and Environment Committee approved Tuesday a presidential decree on Egypt joining the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) convention on nuclear safety.

File Photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session (AP)
File Photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session (AP)

Chairman of the committee, Hossam Awadallah, said the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) aims to commit Egypt, and other contracting parties, which operate land-based civil nuclear power plants, to maintain a high level of safety by establishing fundamental safety principles prescribed by the IAEA.

"The convention also obliges parties to submit reports on the implementation of their obligations for review at meetings normally held at IAEA Headquarters," added Awadallah.

Furthermore, he said that by joining IAEA's convention on peaceful nuclear safety, Egypt took another step towards implementing its nuclear power programme.

"Egypt has gone a long way towards implementing its first nuclear power plant at El-Dabaa, 320 kilometres northwest of Cairo," said Awadallah, adding that the plant will have four nuclear reactors that will begin operating between 2028 and 2030.

He noted that these reactors, which generate energy for peaceful purposes, are designed in collaboration with Russia's state-owned nuclear engineering company, Rosatom, with a capacity of 1.2 GW each.

The construction of the first three reactors has already begun after obtaining approval from the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA).

On 19 November 2015, Egypt and Russia signed an agreement under which Russia will build and finance Egypt's first nuclear power plant.

The preliminary contracts for constructing the four nuclear reactors were signed, in December 2017, in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The state-owned Rosatom will build the plant and supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle.

Russia will finance 85 percent of the cost with a loan of $25 billion, while Egypt will provide the remaining 15 percent in the form of instalments. The Russian loan is repaid over 22 years, with an annual interest of three percent.

Awadallah further said that by joining IAEA's convention on nuclear safety, Egypt guarantees that its nuclear reactors in Dabaa will not cause any radioactive risks that could harm citizens, society and the environment.

For his part, Amgad El-Wakeel, head of Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA), told the media last month that El-Dabaa's four nuclear reactors comply with IAEA's safety measures.

"They can endure earthquakes and aeroplane crashes, and they will be friendly to the environment," said El-Wakeel, noting that "the plant will comprise the most advanced technology to date, which has been successfully implemented and operated in Russia and abroad."

The presidential decree on Egypt joining IAEA's convention on nuclear safety will be submitted for a final vote when Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – reconvenes next Tuesday, 20 June.


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