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Dazhu Yang: ‘UAE integrated work planning for the IAEA’s technical cooperation support has enabled cohesive cooperation with all the different stakeholders.’

Mr. Dazhu Yang, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), assumed his position on 1 July 2015. Prior to his current appointment, Mr. Yang served as the Director of the Division for Africa, and the Director of the Division for Asia and the Pacific, within the Department of Technical Cooperation. In his current role, Mr. Yang paid a visit to TC project sites in the UAE in April 2016. During the visit, he met with Government representatives and national counterparts to discuss ways to deepen the IAEA’s cooperation with the UAE in priority areas. In an interview with the Permanent Mission of the UAE to the IAEA, Mr. Yang spoke about his visit to the country and his impressions on the implementation and achievements of national TC projects. 

May 2016

Since the deployment of its nuclear power programme in 2008, the UAE has been supported and guided by the IAEA throughout all phases of the programme. Technical Cooperation (TC) projects focusing on the development of infrastructure and human resources for nuclear power have constituted the largest part of the UAE TC programme over the past 6 years. What is your assessment today of the UAE’s advancements in these areas as a newcomer country, and how the IAEA TC programme contributed to the current progress?

 

The Agency has supported the UAE in a range of areas throughout the country’s development of its nuclear power programme. A focus on integrated work planning for the IAEA’s technical cooperation support has enabled strong, cohesive cooperation with all the different stakeholders.

 

Safety has been a major topic within this integrated support, as the highest standards of safety are fundamental to all nuclear power programmes. The IAEA Safety Standards provide the basis for a high level of safety that will protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

 

The UAE has been working with the IAEA through our TC programme to establish the necessary nuclear infrastructure for its nuclear power programme, both as regards physical infrastructure and the human resources required to maintain the nuclear infrastructure in a sustainable way.

 

Tangible results of IAEA support are now visible. Several IAEA peer review missions, including Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR), Integrated Regulatory Review Services (IRRS), Emergency Preparedness Review Services (EPREV) and Safeguards Advisory Services (ISSAS) missions have demonstrated the UAE’s enhanced conformance to international standards, reflecting improvements in the national nuclear infrastructure.

 

How do you see the IAEA support through the TC Programme as the UAE moves forward with commissioning and operation of its nuclear power units?

 

Nuclear safety is the responsibility of individual States. The IAEA – the only international organization with expertise in all aspects of nuclear power – plays a unique lead role in shaping a safer nuclear future throughout the world. The IAEA technical cooperation programme is the Agency’s primary mechanism for supporting Member States in the peaceful application of nuclear science and technology, and it will remain an important mechanism for the UAE in its continuing efforts to develop its nuclear sector. The programme draws upon the skills and expertise of all IAEA Departments.

 

Our technical cooperation activities respond to the needs and priorities that our Member States identify. Through the TC programme, the IAEA is ready to assist the UAE at every stage of the nuclear power process. It will continue to provide necessary support as the country moves forward with the next phase of its Nuclear Power Programme for Electricity Generation.

 

Last month, you visited TC project sites in the UAE and met with national stakeholders. What is your assessment of UAE-IAEA collaboration and achievements in advancing the country’s capacity in nuclear science and technology?

 

I was most impressed by the achievements I saw during my recent visit to TC project sites in the UAE. The country has been participating in the TC programme since 1976 in various fields – in nuclear energy planning, agriculture, water issues, environmental monitoring, patient safety, just to name a few examples – and the results are visible.

 

Through our joint collaboration, several milestones have been achieved – for example, the IAEA helped the UAE to establish a fully automated early warning network and radiation monitoring system that now covers a large part of the country. This has given UAE an initial capability to monitor environmental radioactivity levels in different areas of the country. The UAE has also made progress in enhancing water use efficiency in agriculture with IAEA support, and is now leading these efforts in the region.

 

Another major achievement is the establishment of the UAE’s first national measurement centre for secondary for industrial and medical uses, also supported through the technical cooperation programme. The country is now able to calibrate radiation measuring instruments and carry out dosimetry services for industrial and medical applications.  

 

The Material Analysis Centre, supported through a further TC project, provides important services in the conservation of the UAE’s national heritage. Museums, environmental protection agencies, universities, local construction and energy industries, as well as art galleries, municipalities and customs and borders authorities are benefitting from the use of this infrastructure.

 

These achievements demonstrate the essential role of the TC programme in contributing to national development in Member States. They are also the result of the commitment of the UAE Government to its national TC programme, and of good quality in project planning, monitoring and implementation.

 

For many years, UAE’s health sector has been benefiting from IAEA’s technical support to improve its radiotherapy, nuclear medicine and medical imaging capabilities. To enhance this cooperation, a Practical Arrangement (PA) between the Dubai Health Authority and the IAEA was signed two months ago. Does the PA set new goals for cooperation? Are there any expansions to the ongoing collaboration and knowledge transfer?

 

For the IAEA, technical cooperation among developing countries – TCDC – is one of the primary ways of addressing the diverse science and technology needs of countries. TCDC draws on regionally available skills and facilities, and strengthens links between institutions in a region.

 

As you mention, the UAE’s health sector has benefited from the IAEA’s support. Under the new Practical Arrangement, the IAEA and the Dubai Health Authority will collaborate to train nuclear medicine professionals using the IAEA Curriculum for Nuclear Medicine Professionals (ICNMP). In addition, meetings and workshops on clinical nuclear medicine and related disciplines will be organized, and data and experiences will be exchanged, and the use and continuing improvement of the IAEA Curriculum will be promoted.

 

With this Agreement, it is expected that the UAE will be able to share knowledge and amenities that address the needs of other Member States in a more concrete way, through the technical cooperation programme.

 

During your visit, you toured Khalifa University’s nuclear engineering laboratories and research facilities. As you reviewed their current state, did you take note of the IAEA contributions to these research facilities?

 

The collaboration between Khalifa University and the UAE nuclear regulatory body includes sharing of expertise and facilities for the safe operation of the UAE’s first nuclear power plant.

 

I highly recommend that that University makes full use of the IAEA online learning management system platform, the Cyber Learning Platform for Network Education and Training (also known as CLP4Net) to complement the efforts of the University and support the sustainability of manpower development in the country. CLP4Net allows students to find educational resources easily.

We also appreciate the willingness of the UAE to share its advanced nuclear engineering laboratories and research facilities with other IAEA Member States, in support of building and maintaining skilled leadership teams for the management of nuclear energy programmes.

Khalifa University has twice hosted the IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School. This School has provided participants with a broader understanding and knowledge of the specific challenges that face nuclear energy development, based on lessons learned by the UAE.

 

The Agency and the Department of Technical Cooperation in particular, are happy to provide any needed support to strengthen the environmental laboratory and to further build capacity for the safe utilization of nuclear energy in the region.

 

Since its establishment in 2009, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has been one of the most active national stakeholders involved in IAEA activities, and has received substantive support in building sustainable regulatory infrastructure. Today, which areas of cooperation between the UAE’s regulatory body and the IAEA are of major focus?  

 

A strong and independent regulator is the cornerstone of a safe nuclear power programme. As the UAE nuclear power programme and other applications expand, sound regulations to strengthen safety and security assume even greater significance. FANR has matured significantly since it was set up in 2009. Today, IAEA collaboration with FANR continues to focus on further strengthening of regulatory competence, occupational exposure control, protection of the public and the environment from radiation practices, nuclear and radiological emergencies, education and training, and transport safety.

 

Enhancing national nuclear emergency preparedness and response is an important milestone in the UAE’s nuclear power infrastructure development. With IAEA support, the country is developing its national nuclear emergency preparedness and response plan (EPR). Which resources have the IAEA made available for the country to improve in this area and what are your impressions of the current progress?

 

The IAEA has made available a number of resources in the field of emergency preparedness and response, through the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC). A number of expert missions, training events and workshops have been conducted in the UAE in support of its nuclear power infrastructure development. In March 2015 the IAEA conducted an Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission to UAE to review the current status of arrangements, and the final report was shared with UAE officials. The IAEA observed national drills and exercises in December 2015 and February 2016 and provided observations on the preparation, conduct and evaluation of the exercises to UAE counterparts.

 

The UAE has made significant progress in developing emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements as part of its nuclear power infrastructure development and the IAEA is continuing to work with UAE officials to further enhance EPR arrangements prior to commissioning.

 

Interview by Jennet Orayeva: jennet.orayeva@uae-iaea.org

 

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