UAE Promotes Nonproliferation "Gold Standard" for Nuclear Energy Programs

The United Arab Emirates said that nations considering atomic energy programs should avoid establishing uranium enrichment operations that could be used to produce power reactor fuel as well as nuclear-weapon material, the National newspaper reported on Thursday (see GSN, March 9).

Abu Dhabi agreed to what is informally known as the nonproliferation "gold standard" -- pledging not to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium -- in sealing an atomic trade deal with the United States in 2009.

High-level officials from the State and Energy departments stated in January that the Obama administration would take a “case-by-case” approach in deciding whether to pursue that nonproliferation standard in future agreements to give non-nuclear-armed nations access to U.S. atomic technology and materials.

"The UAE view is that for a country to develop nuclear power, starting from scratch, it makes no commercial sense or technical sense to develop full enrichment facilities," Hamad al-Kaabi, the UAE envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said during a conference organized by the newspaper.

"The enrichment part of the nuclear program is very technically challenging but also politically sensitive and commercially very expensive. It actually does not make sense for a country that's building one or five reactors or so to actually develop their own enrichment facilities," he said.

The United Arab Emirates has provided financial support for the planned IAEA fuel bank, which is intended to offer developing national nuclear energy efforts with a reliable alternative to establishing their own atomic fuel production capabilities (see GSN, Feb. 8). Additional corresponding efforts are necessary to connect states that need such materials with providers, according to al-Kaabi.

"If there is a country that was denied supply because of political reasons, something beyond commercial and technical reasons, then there should be a mechanism to click in saying denying supply for this country is not fair," he said. "A country like the UAE adds a lot of value for these solutions by being a customer" (April Yee, The National, April 19).

 

April 19, 2012
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The United Arab Emirates said that nations considering atomic energy programs should avoid establishing uranium enrichment operations that could be used to produce power reactor fuel as well as nuclear-weapon material, the National newspaper reported on Thursday.