ABU DHABI // The UAE is heading to the Nuclear Security Summit with “good stories”.
The country’s nuclear programme has been praised as the “gold standard” and the UAE is constantly striving to keep up to date with best international practices.
“We’ve met our commitments. We stand in a very good shape today in terms of having ratified and signed all the agreements of nuclear security,” said Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“We are party to many international initiatives in supporting nuclear security and we are really an active partner internationally in nuclear security. This is in conjunction with our efforts to develop a nuclear programme as a model for other countries and nuclear security is a major part of that.”
The country has signed nine bilateral agreements on nuclear security and cooperation with the United States’ Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission in South Korea and IRSN in France.
Mr Al Kaabi said the UAE had some of the highest standards.
"This is where we see the drive for the UAE to adopt a model system that supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy, prevent nuclear terrorism and any risks or jeopardy to nuclear security," he said.
Barbara Judge, the former head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said the UAE's nuclear programme was "the gold standard".
“They’ve done a very good job,” she said. “The fact that the Government is so behind it will make it one of the best programmes in the world,” said Ms Judge, who is also the deputy chair of the nuclear reform monitoring committee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
She said in some countries, the government stood back.
“But here, all the objectives are aligned to make this the best. The Government in Abu Dhabi wants it to be a showcase for the rest of the world, as well as on time and budget,” Ms Judge said.
The UAE is continuing the push to ensure nuclear security and safety. An integrated master working plan was signed between the country and the IAEA, which enhances the effectiveness of their partnership from 2013 to 2017, including nuclear security. "Nuclear security is a fairly new topic when compared to nuclear safety," said Mr Al Kaabi.
“Nuclear security is the responsibility of the state, so if you have facilities, you are responsible to protect them.”
He said a lot of questions around the budget for nuclear security were being asked by member states.
“Some say the IAEA should spend their money on other issues, such as technical cooperation, for instance,” he said.
“They believe in acquiring technologies as opposed to spending more on nuclear security. But others feel nuclear security is more important strategically for them to ensure that there is no misuse of radioactive material. This is part of the discussion but there is no big divide and nuclear security has received a lot of support within the IAEA.”
The UAE plans to host an IAEA workshop this year on the security of transport of nuclear materials.