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23 Oct, 2023 13:14

Nuclear power can play bigger role in India – IAEA chief  

The country is aiming to use atomic energy to meet its target of ‘net zero emissions’
Nuclear power can play bigger role in India – IAEA chief  

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi has said nuclear energy can play “an even bigger role” in benefitting India and its population, as he paid a visit to the country on Monday.    

We aim to further strengthen our collaboration with India, maximising the potential of IAEA initiatives such as ‘Rays of Hope’ and ‘Atoms4Food’,” Grossi posted on X (formerly Twitter). 

The ‘Rays of Hope’ initiative is aimed at helping member states establish or expand their capacities in cancer treatment, while the ‘Atoms4Food’ program aims to use nuclear science to grow “stronger, healthier, [and] safer crops.” 

During his meeting with Indian leader Narendra Modi, Grossi commended the country’s record as a responsible nuclear power, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. The IAEA chief also “praised India’s progress in nuclear science and technology, particularly highlighting the development and deployment of indigenous nuclear power plants.” The statement added that Grossi “acknowledged India’s global leadership role in civil nuclear applications for societal benefits.” 

Modi and Grossi also exchanged views on expanding the role of nuclear energy in meeting net zero commitments, including through small modular reactors and micro-reactors. India aims to generate 22 gigawatts (GW) of power through nuclear energy as part of its initiatives to combat climate change.   

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) currently operates 23 commercial nuclear power reactors with a combined capacity of 7,480 megawatts MW and plans to increase this to 22,480 MW by 2031. 

Last month, India’s Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Ajit Kumar Mohanty, informed Grossi of these ambitions at the IAEA’s General Conference in Vienna, Austria.   

During his visit to India, Grossi also met Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar for a “wide-ranging exchange.” The diplomat later wrote on X that the pair had discussed “the developmental significance of nuclear energy” and had shared their views “on non-proliferation and international cooperation.” 

Grossi noted that the discussion had involved the IAEA’s “work in Ukraine, global non-proliferation challenges, and the pivotal role of nuclear energy and technology for development.” 

India was among the first nations to join the global nuclear watchdog, which currently has 178 member states.  

During his visit, Grossi “conveyed his admiration for the outstanding partnership between the IAEA and India.” He commended the country for its training and capacity-building programs which have helped nations such as Bangladesh, where India has been training specialists for a nuclear power plant being built by Russia’s Rosatom.