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UAE believes in responsible use of nuclear power: Abdullah

posted on 09/03/2010: 830 views



Paris - The United Arab Emirates' interest in developing nuclear energy is motivated by the need to develop additional sources of electricity to meet future demand projections and to ensure the continued rapid development of its economy, UAE Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan affirmed here yesterday.

"Analysis conducted by official UAE entities has concluded that national annual peak demand for electricity is likely to triple by 2020, reflecting a cumulative annual growth rate of roughly 9% from 2007 onward. In evaluating different options to meet this demand, nuclear energy emerged as a proven, environmentally promising and commercially competitive option which could make a significant contribution to the UAE's economy and future energy security,” Sheikh Abdullah said in address before the International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy, held at the premises of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in Paris.

"Many steps has been taken to fulfil UAE international obligations in areas of nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation and in accordance with its policy commitments; including the signing of the Additional protocol to the compressive safeguards agreement, and the accession to the Convention on Nuclear Safety,” Sheikh Abdullah added in his address which was read on his behalf by H.E. Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

"In December 2009, and in a historical step, UAE, through Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation awarded a contract to Korean consortium to build 4 nuclear power reactors in the UAE with the first being scheduled to be operational in 2017. The contract scope covers the design, construction and the joint operation of the plants. It is important to note that this is the first time in the nuclear industry where a full scope contract is awarded that covers the operation responsibility for the life time of the plant, the UAE foreign minister added.

"International cooperation in the development of peaceful nuclear energy is a key element. It is a key to facilitate transfer of technology and an essential tool to ensure that such expansion in the use of nuclear energy is pursued in a responsible manner. Accordingly, UAE puts high importance on developing an effective international cooperation framework to support the development of the required infrastructure, and to facilitate knowledge and operational experience exchange. In this regard, UAE has concluded multiple bilateral agreements with governments of expertise in this area,” he explained.

Following is the full text of Sheikh Abdullah's speech:

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to be here today at this conference which covers important topics on facilitating the development of nuclear energy in a responsible manner, I would like at the outset to thank the Government of the French Republic and the organisers for hosting this event.

United Arab Emirates interest in developing nuclear energy is motivated by the need to develop additional sources of electricity to meet future demand projections and to ensure the continued rapid development of its economy.

Analysis conducted by official UAE entities has concluded that national annual peak demand for electricity is likely to triple by 2020, reflecting a cumulative annual growth rate of roughly 9% from 2007 onward. In evaluating different options to meet this demand, nuclear energy emerged as a proven, environmentally promising and commercially competitive option which could make a significant contribution to the UAE's economy and future energy security.

It is also worth noting, that UAE considers the development of nuclear energy as a complementary source to a basket of diversified and secure energy options being developed in the UAE including renewables, natural gas and other traditional and innovative options.

In pursuing the development of nuclear energy, UAE is fully aware of the special circumstances and considerations that surround the development of nuclear energy in particular in areas related safety, security and non-proliferation. We put great emphasis on the principle that the expansion in nuclear energy should be pursued in a responsible manner that ensures facilitation of technology transfer to new countries and at the same time ensures the safety, security and non-proliferation.

From this prospective, and to make clear its intentions, the UAE Government has formally endorsed its "Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy" in April of 2008. The policy defines a framework for developing the domestic nuclear energy program in form of commitments, strategies and principles. The policy is based on principles of complete operational transparency, highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation, with the later being characterised by UAE decision to forgo fuel enrichment and reprocessing.

UAE commitment to maintain highest standards of safety is reflected in its approach in developing legislative and institutional infrastructure with the recent enacting of a comprehensive nuclear law and the establishment of an independent authority for nuclear safety regulation, designed to regulate nuclear energy sector in a manner consistent with highest international standards and practices.

Many steps has been taken to fulfil UAE international obligations in areas of nuclear safety , security and non-proliferation and in accordance with its policy commitments; including the signing of the Additional protocol to the compressive safeguards agreement, and the accession to the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

In December 2009, and in a historical step, UAE, through Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation awarded a contract to Korean consortium to build 4 nuclear power reactors in the UAE with the first being scheduled to be operational in 2017. The contract scope covers the design, construction and the joint operation of the plants. It is important to note that this is the first time in the nuclear industry where a full scope contract is awarded that covers the operation responsibility for the life time of the plant.

Speaking of nuclear power plants operation, this brings me to one of the challenges facing the expansion of nuclear energy today, which is the development of required human resources.

Being aware of this challenge, the UAE has embarked on intensive efforts and planning towards the development of required human resources capacity from the outset of the program planning. UAE approach is based on a strategy with objectives to: Ensure the availability of a pipeline of talent to support the development and operation of UAE nuclear sector , To create a sustainable educational system to maintain ongoing flow of staff into the sector, and to establish a sustainable nuclear technology programs that provide nuclear expertise, training and research in the long run.

These goals are being implemented through short, medium and long term plans which are linked to the deployment of the nuclear power plants timeline in the UAE, and consistent with the vision that majority of plant staff in the future will be UAE nationals.

International cooperation in the development of peaceful nuclear energy is a key element. It is a key to facilitate transfer of technology and an essential tool to ensure that such expansion in the use of nuclear energy is pursued in a responsible manner. Accordingly, UAE puts high importance on developing an effective international cooperation framework to support the development of the required infrastructure, and to facilitate knowledge and operational experience exchange. In this regard, UAE has concluded multiple bilateral agreements with governments of expertise in this area.

In this regard, Supplier countries have a major role to assist new comers to nuclear energy through the establishment of an effective framework for cooperation to facilitate such assistance. On this point, I wish to commend steps taken by some countries such as France on the establishment of specialised entities for international nuclear cooperation to support countries embarking on nuclear programs.

This also brings us to the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in supporting such framework and to support new countries embarking on nuclear energy programs by providing guidance, technical support assist states in implementing Agency standards and recommendations.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise on the importance to focus on long term sustainability principle in developing any nuclear energy program through the adoption of plans and strategies that will ensure the availability of resources and efficiency of the sector through its long life cycle. .

UAE hopes through adoption of these policies and steps to establish a new model that allows states with interest in nuclear energy to evaluate and develop domestic nuclear energy programs with full support and confidence of the international community. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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