IAEA chief to visit Abu Dhabi's nuclear reactor construction site

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to discuss Iran's nuclear programme in meetings with UAE leaders today.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to visit Abu Dhabi's reactor construction site today as work speeds along on the Arab world's first nuclear power plant.

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN's atomic watchdog, is scheduled to meet leaders in the emirate to discuss progress on the US$20 billion (Dh73.4bn) power plant, scheduled to come online in four years.

But the visit will be shadowed by concerns over Iran's nuclear activities, including the possible explosion of an underground uranium enrichment site last week.

"The objective of the visit would be, of course, to go over the UAE progress and the UAE programme here, but also to discuss topics of interest including any regional issues that the UAE is engaged in," said Hamad Al Kaabi,the UAE's permanent representative to the IAEA.

"The visit of the UAE is significant not only as an endorsement of our work, but also to shed light on the UAE's full cooperation with the IAEA and full transparency."

The UAE, which foreswore any enrichment or reprocessing activities in a 2009 treaty with the US, is often touted as a contrasting model to Iran and its ambiguous approach.

Mr Amano was due to arrive in Abu Dhabi last night and is scheduled to tour Baraka, the nuclear construction site, this morning, should intermittent fog permit the journey 300km west of Abu Dhabi.