UAE promises full transparency for civilian nuclear programme

The UAE is fully committed to transparency, safety and security as part of its nuclear ambitions, a symposium was told.

ABU DHABI // The UAE is fully committed to transparency, safety and security as part of its nuclear ambitions, a symposium was told yesterday. In a paper laying out "guiding principles" to international atomic experts, the nation's potential to become the first Arab state to use atomic power was analysed. The document also promised to collaborate closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the autonomous body that serves as the world's nuclear watchdog. "Talking about peace in this vital area of the world requires intensified efforts to remove all causes of tension," the paper stated, quoting Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. "Therefore, establishing an effective balance of power in the region will be achieved only if all Middle East countries undertake to ban the use of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons." The Abu Dhabi Government organised yesterday's session at the Centre of Information Affairs, which was attended by international scientists and politicians, reported WAM, the state news agency. The symposium focused on the UAE's aim to generate nuclear energy for non-military use. Abdul Rahman al Attiyah, the secretary general of the Gulf Co-operation Council, said the document was "an important move" that complied with the efforts of Gulf states to develop peaceful nuclear programmes. He also praised the UAE for its "commitment to full transparency and the highest standards of non-proliferation and of safety and security". The UAE has already promised not to enrich uranium, a key process in manufacturing bombs, underscoring its intent to use atomic power solely as a civilian energy resource. German, French and Finnish attendees voiced their support for the nuclear plan. Matti Lassila, Finland's ambassador to the UAE, called it "a rational decision", given the stresses on the region to export oil and petrol amid increasing global demand. "The United Arab Emirates is taking its part in the proper management of our globe." Mr Lassila said while the nation was "blessed" with abundant petroleum, exploring alternatives to fossil fuels was a responsible consideration. He added that the UAE's evaluation process for the potential development of peaceful nuclear energy was well-prepared in relation to the rest of the world. "It is certain that the country will take its global responsibilities seriously and environmental issues will be highest among its priorities." Burning fossil fuels releases more routine emissions than nuclear power, which is considered a greener form of energy. The atomic policy paper said representatives of foreign governments, including Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, as well as David Welch, the UK minister of state for trade and investment, had approved its guidelines. France and the UAE signed a co-operative nuclear agreement in January, when Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, visited the capital during his tour of the Gulf region. The agreement allowed for technical exchanges and the creation of regulations to ensure any nuclear reactors built in the UAE would be in line with the best in the world, said Vincent Floreani, the deputy head of mission at the French Embassy in Abu Dhabi. Mr Floreani presented a paper at the symposium entitled, "France's Contribution to the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy" and said "from a French perspective, the requests of countries wishing to benefit from this clean, low-cost energy are legitimate". Dr Andreas Sizmann, a German energy expert and scientist who also addressed yesterday's forum, said the energy industry was seeking more ways to satisfy global demand. "Hydrocarbon fuels are not 'bad' for the climate just because they contain carbon," he said, adding that satisfying energy needs required searching in a new direction. He also cited the upcoming Masdar City initiative - the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste development - as an example of the UAE taking charge of its energy future. It is expected that the Government will sanction the nuclear programme this year and begin generating its first kilowatt by 2016. * WAM

Published: August 24, 2008 04:00 AM

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