Iran, once an international outcast due to its controversial nuclear programme, has expressed hope it can work in tandem with India to enhance nuclear safety and knowledge management in the region to prevent “accidents”. The country also plans to invite India to participate in the annual VVER Technology Forum next year. “We have common issues. Both countries use VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) technologies. Both have developed research activities and they could follow that. We have similar interests in the nuclear programme from the safety point of view. Things could be done very easily. We hope things could be extended in a more tangible manner in the future,” Naser Rastkhah, who heads the Iran Nuclear Regulatory Authority, told media.
Rastkhah is participating in the 11th International Public Forum-Dialogue “Nuclear Energy, Environment, Safety”. “Next year we are going to host the VVER Forum and we will invite the (nuclear) regulatory body of India,” Rastkhah said.
Banking on India’s long-standing experience in nuclear safety, Rastkhah raised concerns over the dearth of knowledge among countries that are foraying into the nuclear energy sector in the region.
“From the regulatory point of view, we belong to the same region and any accident anywhere is an accident everywhere. India has a very good experience long before Iran in this regard and they could probably cooperate with our nuclear regulatory authority to increase safety in the region… to of course prevent accidents.”
“Most of the newcomers in the region have least knowledge in safety of (using) nuclear energy. If people are aware, safety is there. Usually we are influenced by lack of information. If we could extend our collaboration with the Indian regulatory body, we are on the safe side,” he noted.
Earlier this year, India and Iran took a major step in boosting connectivity and trade with the inking of an agreement on the Chabahar port. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with the Iranian leadership and said that the time has come for both sides to “regain the past glory of the relationship”. The two sides also signed 12 agreements, including on science and technology, culture and railways and three on the port itself.
India and Iran are not members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Asked about India’s bid for membership and China blocking its entry into the group, Rastkhah clarified he has no information on this. Iran’s nuclear programme began in the 1950s and has had a chequered past.
On July 14, 2015, Iran clinched a deal with five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, or P5+1, ending a decade-long dispute over its controversial nuclear programme.
The agreement resulted in the lifting of international and Western nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for wide-scale limitation on the country’s nuclear activities for a specific period of time.
Focusing on the current scenario, Rastkhah flagged issues with countries in the southern part of the Persian Gulf.
“I am very much concerned about the southern part of the Persian Gulf. Clean energy in the region is nice, but there is lack of knowledge and it is very difficult to manage. Our people say ‘never we want another Fukushima’,” he added.