Pakistan stays out of nuclear fusion project

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN By Sehrish Wasif | May 5, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ambition for securing membership to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) group – one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world – are being hindered by shortage of both funds and capable researchers, experts told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.

For the last 13 years, Pakistan has persistently been struggling to become a member of this multinational research group.

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Talking to The Express Tribune a senior official of the National Centre for Physics (NCP), who wished not to be named, said that Pakistan has been trying to become an ITER member since 2003, but is still unable to secure a place in the group mainly because of shortage of funds and insufficient number of researchers in the field of plasma physics.

“Currently, Pakistan has around 200 plasma physics researchers. However, there is a need to double this number,” the official said.

The idea behind ITER project is to come up with a new environment-friendly nuclear reactor for producing unlimited supply of safe, economical and sustainable electricity using atomic fusion.

India, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, the European Union and the United States are ITER’s active members.

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“The best part of ITER project is that it would neither have an impact on human health, nor would it pollute the environment both in short- and long-term,” said the official.

If Pakistan becomes an ITER member, its scientists and researchers would be able to exchange ideas and work with international professionals, ultimately broadening their exposure, said the official.

Moreover, he said, it would also create employment opportunities for people from diverse fields such as engineering among others.

“Unfortunately, it is a fact that our government is not investing much on the science and technology sector which is impeding progress. Though the country is blessed with a number of professionals and talented students in this field, financial constraints is one of the major hurdles, blocking their scope of work,” he said.