UAE reiterates commitment to develop peaceful nuclear programme

The IAEA has said the UAE's nuclear programme is an example to other nations with peaceful nuclear ambitions.

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ABU DHABI // The UAE's quest to develop nuclear energy has been strongly driven by its foreign policy, state news agency Wam says.

Intense diplomatic efforts established the groundwork to develop cooperation agreements that would help to deliver a credible and comprehensive civilian nuclear programme.

The country's diplomatic push led to the signing of the UAE-US Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2009, the first such arrangement in the Middle East.

The deal, touted as a powerful and timely model for the region, allows the UAE to buy US nuclear power equipment, technology and fuel.

The UAE, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has agreed to open its nuclear plants to full international inspections and refrain from producing its own reactor fuel.

"We are confident that this will provide an opportunity to make a positive change in the international arena," the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah, told the UN General Assembly last year.

"We hope that developing a peaceful nuclear-energy model, which complies with the highest standards of transparency in operating nuclear facilities and fulfils the highest requirements of nuclear safety and non-proliferation, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other responsible and experienced states, would chart a new course for a large group of countries for the safe use of nuclear energy."

The UAE's commitment not to enrich uranium and reprocess fuels locally is supplemented by complete transparency and international cooperation.

The country's nuclear policy "reflects the UAE's position, which calls for making the Middle East and the [Arabian] Gulf a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons", Wam said.

The UAE also recently signed an agreement to cooperate with Japan on exploring the possibilities of developing peaceful nuclear energy.

This follows similar agreements made with the UK, France and five other countries.

The IAEA has said the UAE's nuclear programme sets an example to other nations with peaceful nuclear ambitions.