Nuclear-armed Pakistan has joined the European research organization, CERN, as an associate member, which will open up a new of cooperation between CERN and the Pakistani scientific community.
Pakistan first signed a cooperation agreement with CERN in 1994, and inked several other protocols with the agency before the agreement that granted the South Asian country associate membership, according to a report posted on CERN’s website.
Established in 1954, CERN operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, in the suburb of Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border. It currently has 22 members. During its association with CERN, Pakistan contributed to building the CMS and ATLAS experiments.
The Compact Muon Solenoid is a general purpose detector at the Large Hardon Collider (LHC) which is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. ATLAS is also a general-purpose detector and a particle physic experiment at LHC that is searching for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of patrons of extraordinary high energy.
Pakistan contributes today to the ALICE and CMS experiments. It is also involved in accelerator developments, making it an important partner for CERN.
Associate Membership will allow Pakistan to participate in the governance of CERN, through attending the meetings of the CERN Council. Moreover, it will allow Pakistani scientists to become members of the CERN staff, and to participate in CERN’s training and career-development programs, according to CERN statement.
The membership will also allow Pakistani industry to bid for CERN contracts, thus opening up opportunities for industrial collaboration in areas of advanced technology.
Pakistan is currently seeking a civil nuclear agreement with the U.S., similar to the one President George W Bush reached with its nuclear-rival India in 2008. The issue again came under discussion during a visit by a top envoy of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington in July.
Pakistan’s first nuclear power plant, KANUPP, was a gift from Canada that was inaugurated in November, 1972 with a total gross capacity of 137 megawatts. China later helped Pakistan build two atomic reactors at Chashma in the central Punjab province, and is now assisting with two more which are under construction at the same site.
Construction work is under way on another nuclear power plant in Karachi, inaugurated in late 2013, which will produce 2,117 megawatts of electricity.
Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998, in response to similar experiments by neighboring India the same year.