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Inside the UAE's Nuclear Program - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Abu Dhabi, Asharq Al-Awsat- Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained the details of the UAE’s Nuclear program, which will ban the designing, developing, constructing, or operating facilities for enrichment or re-treatment within the country. The UAE will go for undertaking enrichment operations outside its territories, provided that any treatment “will be aimed at producing uranium in which the mass ratio of uranium 235 is higher than 0.72 percent, according to the law for peaceful use of nuclear energy, which was ratified by the UAE in October 2009.

The program will grant foreign companies wishing to construct nuclear installations on UAE territories a license to construct these installations that includes the nuclear activities that are subject to monitoring.

According to the details, the UAE nuclear program prohibits the import of radioactive waste and exhausted nuclear fuel resulting from nuclear energy applications carried out outside the UAE for purposes of long-term storage or of disposing of them within the country.

UAE officials have stressed the peaceful nature of their nuclear program, and also their fundamental commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation ban as an important factor in confirming the peaceful nature of the UAE nuclear energy program.

The term of the license of the reactor granted by the authority concerned will not exceed 60 years. Also the foreign companies, after obtaining prior approval from the authority, are allowed to establish branches in the UAE with the purpose of undertaking activities subject to monitoring, or to assist in this without needing to appoint a local agent.

The UAE has established the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, which is an independent monitoring and organizational authority that regulates the nuclear sector in the state. The authority is particularly concerned with the protection of nuclear security and protection from radiation. It is expected that this new authority will grant a 41 billion dollar contract for the construction of nuclear stations in the near future.

With regard to punishments, the UAE law stipulates a fine of not more than 10 million UAE dirhams (2.72 million dollars), imprisonment for up to a year, or one of the two punishments for anyone who operates the nuclear installation without obtaining a license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.

However, the monetary fine goes up to 50 million dirhams for anyone who conveys, publishes, or reveals any information of documents related to nuclear material or nuclear installation without having the right to do so, or in a way that might lead to physical damage to the protection of nuclear material.

This punishment includes anyone who steals nuclear material, obtains it without right, embezzles it, or obtains it by deception, and also anyone who threatens to use nuclear material to cause death or harm to any individual, cause material damage to property, or carry out any other aggression.

The UAE nuclear program law in Article 39 obliges the sides that obtain license to possess nuclear material to inform the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation and the concerned authorities of any violation of equipment that are subject to monitoring by the federal authority or by international organizations that have contracted agreements to secure nuclear material, “according to which the nuclear material is subject to monitoring, or any incident that might violate the safety of the nuclear material as soon as the occurrence of the incident is ascertained.”

The law also compels those licensed to possess nuclear material “to inform the federal authority and the authorities concerned of the disappearance or embezzlement of nuclear material as soon as it happens.”

The law issued by the UAE in this concern aims at developing and regulating the nuclear sector within the UAE exclusively for peaceful purposes “in accordance with the general policy of the state in assessing and developing a program for peaceful nuclear energy, and in accordance with the treaties and agreements to which the state is a party.”

In the beginning of this year, the UAE announced its intention to build peaceful nuclear reactors, and stressed that its nuclear program “is not aimed at establishing balance with Iran.” UAE Permanent Representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] Hamad Ali al-Kabi has said: “The UAE peaceful nuclear program does not pursue the establishment of a balance with the Iranian nuclear program or the program of any other country in the region.”

The UAE officials expect the commercial operation of the UAE nuclear power stations to start in 2017.

The UAE nuclear program will oblige any nominal person licensed to manage a nuclear installation that produces radioactive waste to pay specific sums into a trust fund called the “Decommissioning Trust Fund.” These sums will include the costs of constructing, operating, and closing down of the facilities of disposing of radioactive waste, and the costs of decommissioning the nuclear installation.

According to the UAE nuclear program, the authority concerned and those licensed to build peaceful nuclear reactors will have to lay down procedures for preparedness for emergencies, with the aim of protecting the population and organizing planning areas for emergencies, and also to protect the nuclear facility or the facility storing radioactive sources; the procedures also specify the measures to be adopted to minimize and deal with the consequences of a nuclear incident.

The United States recently officially signed an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with the UAE, and praised it as a “new model” that can help in preventing the proliferation of dangerous nuclear technology.

According to the agreement, the United States will provide nuclear fuel, technology, and information related to the pledges of the UAE to adhere to the highest standard of criteria of nuclear non-proliferation.

UAE officials say that the study carried out by the Abu Dhabi Government indicates that the country will need more than 40,000 megawatt by 2020, which is an accumulative annual growth of some 9 percent.

For a period of over six months, the UAE started to prepare a general policy document about assessing the possibility of developing a peaceful nuclear energy program in the country. Before it was published officially in April 2008, the document took into consideration the recommendations obtained through consultations with the IAEA, and the government of France, the United States, Britain, Russia, China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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