Kazakhstan dispatch: President Tokayev announces nuclear power plant proposal will be decided in a national referendum

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The idea of building a Nuclear Power Plant was not born out of thin air. In recent years, there have been many power outages across Kazakhstan. The proposal has been supported by the fact that there will be electricity problems in Almaty, and in a few other regions in Kazakhstan at the end January 2022. These problems are likely to get worse. The country already suffers from a severe electricity shortage, and this project will allow Kazakhstan to stop importing electricity. This would reduce its dependence on neighboring countries. The use of peaceful nuclear power is growing in popularity around the globe. Today, nuclear power is the most important sub-sector of global energy and makes a significant contribution to global electricity production.

There are, however, different opinions about the feasibility of building this facility. Kazakhstan’s experience with the radioactive effects of nuclear testing is one of the reasons why it hasn’t built a NPP yet. These tests were conducted in the Soviet era at landfills including Semipalatinsk. Kazakhstan is the largest producer in the world of uranium, and it would seem that Kazakhstan should have its own nuclear power plant. It is important to continue hearings in the public and to have a broad and comprehensive discussion on the issue. Kazakhstan has implemented the recommendations made by the International Atomic Energy Agency mission on a comprehensive assessment of nuclear infrastructure. Kazakhstan has recently suggested a possible resumption in the use of nuclear power to reduce the dependence of the country on fossil fuels and diversify its energy balance. In March 2023, Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, was visited by a comprehensive nuclear assessment mission to determine the readiness of the country to commit consciously to the implementation and expansion of its nuclear energy program. Subsequently, the results of the audit turned out to be positive and the areas where improvements are needed for the development of nuclear energy in Kazakhstan were identified.Given the importance of the NPP operation for the benefit of the population in the long term, it is necessary to take into account all possible aspects, including the problems of legal regulation in the operation of NPP. The current regulatory framework is in need of improvement. There is no such list of legal acts that regulate the use atomic power. Instead, each application of atomic energies is treated individually. The reason for this is that many relevant documents were created and approved in the Soviet Union and are now being applied to Kazakhstan, specifically to a specific installation. The regulatory framework must be significantly expanded. Documents from the IAEA must be included in all legal acts that are used to create Nuclear Power Plants. Some by-laws still need to be drafted for the effective implementation of conventions and agreement provisions. The possibility of amendments to the Kazakhstan Law on Atomic Energy of 2016 is not excluded. It is important to examine the Global Energy-Ecological Strategy, and its principles. This document is not only useful for Kazakhstan and EAEU countries but for the entire world. On September 25, 2007, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.A. made a speech at the 62nd session of UN General Assembly. Nazarbayev proposed to develop a Global Energy-Ecological Strategy jointly and place it on the RIO+20 World Summit on Sustainable Development agenda. This international treaty will be a comprehensive mechanism to create a safe and sustainable energy-ecological environment for mankind. The construction of a Nuclear Power Plant in Kazakhstan will begin soon. In the near future, the Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy, along with other state bodies, members of Parliament, industry experts and public activists, will work out all possible details of this Presidential instruction and other aspects and provide detailed information about this issue.