Egypt’s new government is pressing on with nuclear plans, put on hold during recent unrest, through renewed contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Middle East’s most populous nation aims for four nuclear plants totalling 4 GW by 2025, with the first opening by 2020, according to Turkish media reports of comments by Electricity and Energy Minister Saad Mahmoud.

Egypt testing nuclear reactor

Anne Starz, head of the IAEA’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Group, told PEi of recent enhanced contact between Egypt and the IAEA that could make this timeframe realistic.

After 18 months in which contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “slowed considerably”, discussions between Egyptian officials and the agency “are beginning to ramp up”, she said.

“Especially in the last few months we have had several meetings,” she said.

“Recently we’ve had discussions regarding the technical co-operation cycle starting in 2014-15.”

While Egypt remains at the planning stage for nuclear plants, the country can build on its “start and stop” progress in nuclear power planning over the last two decades, she added.

While countries tend to take about 10 to 15 years from considering whether to build a nuclear power plant to starting its operation, “Egypt is not at the beginning of the 10-15-year timeline”, she said.

She described Egypt’s recent creation of an independent nuclear regulatory body as “a positive step” that shows that the country’s new government is taking a responsible approach.

Egypt is among several nations now eyeing nuclear power under the IAEA’s Milestones approach, which establishes a common terminology for newcomers to the technology.

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