IAEA to review Egyptian nuclear initiatives

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Cairo yesterday for a six-day visit to review developments in the Egyptian nuclear program.

The delegation is scheduled to visit Dabaa–the site for Egypt’s first nuclear reactor–and meet with experts from both the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) and the National Center for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control. The delegation plans to audit the authorization report for the construction of the Dabaa station.

Sources from the AEA said Egypt is currently examining the possibility of using the assistance of an Eastern European country, such as Poland or Hungary, to retrofit the Anshas nuclear facility, Egypt's first of its kind, built in 1961 under Nasser.

Egypt is expected to replace Russia's state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom, which was originally invited for the retrofit project, with one of the Eastern European companies under consideration, said an AEA source.

Rosatom has violated procedural protocol and exaggerated the cost of the overhaul, the source said.

The source added that Hungary is the most likely choice, drawing on the fact that it previously conducted an assessment of the Anshas facility.

In related news, former Vice President of the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) Ali Abdel Nabi said a new ministry should be established to carry out Egypt’s nuclear initiatives. As a national undertaking, the nuclear project should not be left in the hands of individuals, companies or even certain government authorities, according to Nabi.

More than 90 percent of workers at the NPPA are underpaid and are not competent enough to participate in the project, he said.

Nabi added that the NPPA typically spends large sums of money for the hiring and training of fresh graduates who subsequently leave for better-paying positions.

The recent demand for new personnel at the authority has led to the appointment of inexperienced staff, he said, and the nuclear projects necessitate competency in legal, technical, financial, and administrative issues from staff members in addition to English proficiency. The former vice president also said personnel should have substantial training overseas and in Egypt.

Egypt lacks experts with experience in building nuclear stations, according to Abdel Nabi, but he is seeking the help of Egyptians residing abroad who do have relevant experience.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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