UAE calls for Middle East free of nuclear weapons

Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, says all countries in the region should sign a non-proliferation treaty.

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DUBAI // Middle East countries should unite to make the region free of nuclear weapons by signing the non-proliferation treaty, says the UAE’s ambassador to the UN atomic agency.

“We are committed to supporting all efforts aiming to facilitate the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East,” Hamad Al Kaabi told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) general conference.

“We call on all countries of the region to commit to positively contribute to the establishment of the zone.”

Mr Al Kaabi affirmed the UAE’s commitment to enhancing nuclear safety, security and safeguards worldwide, while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

He also gave the IAEA a progress report on construction of the UAE’s first nuclear power plant in Braka.

“Earlier this summer, the UAE began construction of the Unit 1 of Braka nuclear-power plant, making it the first country among nuclear newcomers to start the construction of a nuclear power plant in 27 years,” said Mr Al Kaabi.

An IAEA review of the UAE’s plans noted: “The mission found that the country understands the long-term commitments and responsibilities of nuclear power and is implementing its programme in line with the IAEA milestones’ approach.”

Mr Al Kaabi encouraged other countries moving to nuclear energy to take advantage of the IAEA’s integrated guidelines for the development of new nuclear energy programme.

He said the comprehensive review services had helped the Emirates remain transparent in its approach.

“My country remains keen on sharing its experience with other member states embarking on a nuclear-power programme, which is underlined through providing feedback in numerous IAEA activities, on its best practices, guiding principles, lessons learnt and challenges,” said Mr Al Kaabi.

He said the UAE had taken “stern steps” after last year’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

“The construction licence that was issued by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation took into full consideration the early lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi accident,” Mr Al Kaabi said.

“It included additional thorough assessment conducted in light of the Fukushima accident, which verified and enhanced safety features of the plant, especially against extreme natural events, and the consequential loss of safety functions.”