UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining
Director General, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR)
Christer Viktorsson is a nuclear physicist with more than 35 years of national and international nuclear safety experience. He has a master’s degree in physics from Abo Academy University in Finland. His previous career highlights include contributing to the production of radioisotopes for medical purposes, working at OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency in France, the IAEA in Austria, and serving 10 years as deputy director general of the Swedish Nuclear Safety Authority. In 2009, he first joined FANR as deputy director general of operations and later rejoined the company in 2015 to lead as Director General.
FANR has been playing an instrumental role in regulating the UAE nuclear sector. Since our inception in 2009, our mandate has been set by the UAE Nuclear Law to ensure the protection of the community and the environment a like as well as ensure the safe, secure and peaceful of nuclear and radiation sources in the UAE. During the years, we built a rigorous regulatory infrastructure that helped us at FANR to carry our functions efficiently and effectively and to meet for the government current and future needs of nuclear energy. In addition, we have an integrated inspection regime where we have resident inspectors at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant carrying out inspections 24/7, complemented by our inspectors who visit the site regularly to ensure it meets regulatory requirements. Our work at Barakah has changed over the past three years, since we issued the first operating license. Currently, Units 1, 2, and 3 are commercially operating, and we are reviewing the Operating License Application for Unit 4, which we aim to issue later this year.
Since 1976, the UAE has a robust collaboration with the IAEA in nuclear and non-nuclear power aspects. In 2008, the UAE-IAEA relationship was further strengthened when the UAE launched its Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy (known as Nuclear Policy). The policy is built on the most rigorous international standards of safety, transparency, and security, making the UAE a role model for nuclear energy development worldwide. IAEA has been supporting the UAE in developing the nuclear power program to meet the increasing energy demand. The UAE Nuclear Energy Program, including the nuclear law and regulations, conforms to the highest safety standards of IAEA and international best practices. The UAE government has been committed to the principle of transparency, enshrined in the UAE nuclear policy, by adhering to international conventions and agreements such IAEA’s Safeguard Agreement and its Additional Protocol and the Convention on Nuclear Safety and other instruments. Such commitments ensure the program is designed for peaceful purposes and in line with national and international laws.
Nuclear energy is essential, which is why I believe the UAE government decided to establish its peaceful nuclear energy program. It is important to note that FANR is not mandated to develop the energy policy of the country; however, we are an important enabler by our role to authorize the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The country today operates three reactors at Barakah, which highly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. In parallel, the country builds the largest solar plants in the world, which are located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These two modes work in union. Our cooperation with the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment and the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency supports the country to reach its goals as regards climate change. We take regular samples from the sea, the ground, sand, and foodstuff to check radiation levels.
The vision for 2023 is continued strong oversight to ensure that the plants remain safe, secure, and peaceful. Secondly, we aim to issue the operating license for Unit 4 of Baraka Nuclear Power Plant, hence achieving the vision of the UAE government to diversify its energy mix. Building Emirati capacity in the nuclear and radiation sectors is and will remain a priority to ensure the sustainability of the sector. Our staff is over 73% Emiratis and supported by a diverse multinational experts. In addition, we will further focus on our smart systems to support the licensees as well as license medical and industrial sectors.