UAE nuclear programme applauded

Lady Barbara Judge, the former chairman of the UK nuclear regulator, is happy with the UAE's nuclear programme.

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Lady Barbara Judge, a prominent member of the international board that advises the UAE on nuclear development, is happy with the way the Arab world's first civilian nuclear programme is shaping up.

"The UAE understands that the key is to bring in the best people, give them the best facilities and a high degree of autonomy," Lady Judge said yesterday after a lecture to female students at Zayed University in the capital.

"Abu Dhabi has the gold standard of nuclear projects," she told a student who asked about security. "It is peaceful, transparent and will be a model for the rest of the world. The nuclear industry is the safest in the world, and it is only getting safer."

The unstable political situation in parts of the Mena region would not derail the UAE programme, Lady Judge predicted.

A proponent of nuclear development as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while increasing energy security for many countries, she also praised Abu Dhabi's plans to broaden its energy mix to include other low-carbon power developments including solar power. If the emirate succeeded in developing a balanced mix of nuclear, gas-fired and renewable power to satisfy its burgeoning domestic electricity demand, it would be the envy of the world, she said.

Due to its rapid industrial expansion, domestic power consumption in the UAE is projected to grow at an annual rate of 9 per cent per year between now and 2020, or about three times the world average, Lady Judge said.

The former chairwoman of the UK Atomic Energy Authoritysaid she hoped for more British involvement in UAE nuclear development.

"The UK has a lot of experience and would be honoured to be able to contribute to the building and operation of this outstanding programme," Lady Judge said.