Kazakhstan to hold referendum on construction of first-ever nuclear plant

Last Updated on September 3, 2023 10:11 am

Astana: Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Friday (September 1) that his government would hold a referendum to decide whether to construct the country’s first nuclear power plant. Addressing the parliament, President Tokayev said the development of nuclear energy had become a particularly important economic and political issue.

Kazakhstan has long discussed the idea (of having a nuclear plant), citing the need for new power generation capacity. The government even identified a planned location for the facility in the southeastern Almaty region and mentioned Russia’s Rosatom as a potential partner.

However, activists have opposed the project due to safety concerns and the country’s history as home to the Semei nuclear weapons testing ground.

President Tokayev told parliament on Friday, “You know that there are different opinions about the feasibility of building a nuclear power plant in our country. On the one hand, Kazakhstan, as the largest uranium producer in the world, should have its own nuclear power generation. Some experts are in favour of building stations with small reactors. On the other hand, many citizens and a number of experts have concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants.”

Highlighting the tragic legacy of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, he said there is a need to continue public hearings and comprehensive broad discussions on the issue.

“The decision to build or not to build a nuclear power plant is an extremely important issue concerning the future of our country. Therefore, I propose to submit it to a national referendum. We will decide on specific dates later,” Tokayev added.

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