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FANR's Christer Viktorsson: Navigating UAE's nuclear achievements

FANR actively pursued nuclear non-proliferation in 2023. (Image source: FANR)

Key milestones of 2023 and focus areas for 2024 were discussed during the media briefing held by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). Christer Viktorsson, the director-general of FANR spoke at the event as well

Last year, FANR said it played a crucial role in ensuring the safe and secure utilisation of nuclear energy and radiation material, emphasising the protection of the public, workers, and the environment. The regulatory infrastructure and competent experts facilitated efficient regulation of the nuclear and radiation sector.

The "Our Vision, Our Promise" strategy, launched in 2023, outlined FANR's commitment to sustaining the regulatory infrastructure, overseeing the nuclear and radiation sector in the UAE, and supporting the government's vision "We the UAE 2031". The strategy aimed to optimise regulatory control and advance research and development to achieve global recognition as a nuclear regulator.

A significant milestone was achieved in November 2023 when FANR issued the operating license for Unit 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, reaching the first criticality phase. With all four units in commercial operation, the UAE's Nuclear Energy Programme became a model for nations venturing into nuclear energy programs.

FANR actively pursued nuclear non-proliferation in 2023, conducting safeguards-related inspections and signing the Administrative Arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA recognised the UAE's support for strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The focus on nuclear security continued with inspections of facilities using radioactive material, cybersecurity inspections, and collaboration with national partners for security in public events. Radiation safety initiatives included launching the UAE's first Master of Science in Medical Physics and qualifying Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Workers.

FANR maintained a robust emergency preparedness system, participating in the UAE Barakah Exercise and conducting drills and workshops. Research and development efforts, including agreements with international organisations, aimed to support regulatory activities.

Capacity building was a priority, with leadership and inspector qualification programs contributing to Emiratisation. FANR engaged in national and international cooperation, hosting the IAEA International Conference and signing agreements for regulatory cooperation and information exchange.

Looking ahead, FANR pledged to continue overseeing nuclear facilities, aligning with the 2050 UAE Energy Strategy, and adapting to changing energy landscapes and emerging technologies. Initiatives like the Emirates Nuclear and Radiation Academy and the "Intelligence Operational Nuclear Safety" project were introduced to disseminate knowledge and enhance safety through advanced AI. The year 2024 was declared the "Year of Safety Culture" at FANR, emphasising safety as the backbone of their functions. Multiple initiatives, including a self-assessment program, were planned to reinforce the commitment to safety culture.