UAE to set up new agency for nuclear energy

March 24th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by admin  


Abu Dhabi, March 24 (IANS) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) cabinet has approved a memorandum for the development of a peaceful nuclear energy programme by setting up a 375-million dirham ($102.1 million) body for the implementation of the programme according to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommendations. Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum cleared the memorandum submitted by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at a cabinet meeting here Sunday evening. He said the government would publish the programme’s details, in keeping with its approach of absolute transparency in dealing with the international community.

According to the programme, the UAE was committed to complete operational transparency, and would pursue the highest standards of non-proliferation, according to state run WAM news agency.

The country was committed to the highest standards of safety and security and would work directly with the IAEA and conform to its standards in evaluating and potentially developing a peaceful nuclear energy programme.

The UAE hoped to develop any peaceful nuclear power capability in partnership with all the governments and firms of responsible nations as well as with the assistance of appropriate expert organisations, the memorandum said.

The policies and actions described in the document are of two kinds - those that will be implemented as part of the UAE’s ongoing evaluation of nuclear energy and those that will be undertaken only in the event that the UAE opts to build nuclear facilities within its borders.

Through the adoption and implementation of these policies and actions, the UAE government hoped to establish a new model via which non-nuclear states may explore and potentially deploy nuclear energy with the full support of the international community.

The memorandum, among other things, called for adopting the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) export guidelines, enlisting assistance at the government-to-government level and requesting technical cooperation from the IAEA and other international bodies.

It also talked of establishing a Nuclear Energy Implementation Organization (NEPIO) with a capitalisation of 375 million dirhams to evaluate and potentially implement a peaceful nuclear energy programme within the UAE.

It would ratify international nuclear safety instruments, including the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety and IAEA Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and promote the principles outlined in this document within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-IAEA nuclear initiative.

The commitments would be undertaken in conjunction with any decision to move forward with the establishment of a peaceful domestic nuclear energy programme.

The memorandum also renounced any intention to develop a domestic enrichment or reprocessing capability in favour of long-term arrangements for the secure external supply of nuclear fuel.

It supported the development of future technologies and designs that are resistant to proliferation and would design a phased implementation plan to translate stated UAE policy into practical arrangements.

According to the memorandum, a robust security infrastructure would be developed to accompany any nuclear power programme.

It called for offering joint venture arrangements to foreign investors for the construction and operation of future nuclear power plants and deploying only advanced third-generation light water reactors (LWR) offering enhanced safety features.

Among other initiatives are introducing a comprehensive national legal framework covering all aspects of nuclear law, including safety, security and non-proliferation.

Other features of the memorandum included developing a comprehensive waste management system that reflected the highest standard of international practice and supporting international efforts to develop a network of multi-lateral fuel assurances, possibly including a “last resort” fuel bank. This would provide insurance against nuclear fuel supply interruption for states with no indigenous enrichment facilities were the other salient points of the approved memorandum.

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