The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has granted international inspectors extended rights in the country as it develops its nuclear sector.
|Hamad Al Kaabi and Mohamed ElBaradei
at the signing in Vienna yesterday
The Additional Protocol (AP) of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty was signed on 8 April by Ambassador Hamad Ali Kaabi and the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei.
This latest step in the UAE's rapid progress towards employing nuclear energy will allow IAEA inspectors greater freedom of movement in the country, including the option to make short-notice inspections of nuclear facilities. The text of the UAE's AP was approved by the IAEA board during its meetings last month.
Although it must be noted that UAE does not yet have any nuclear power or fuel-cycle facilities to inspect, Kaabi said the signing was a 'further indication' of his country's 'obligation to the full principles of transparency in the operation of nuclear facilities... and to achieve the highest standards of nuclear non-proliferation.'
The UAE will now take the obligations of the AP into account while it draws up the necessary legislation to facilitate nuclear power. This process is being guided by C2HM Hill as managing agent for the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, set up after advice to the country from Thorium Power. France's Atomic Energy Commission is also cooperating in the process.
The UAE launched a nuclear energy policy in 2008 to help meet an energy demand forecast to double by 2020, by which time it hopes to have several nuclear power plants running. It is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has signed cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with a number of countries and companies including France, the UK and the USA.
The agreement with America contains special terms under which the UAE has renounced plans to enrich and reprocess uranium or other fuel and will instead obtain nuclear fuel from reliable international suppliers. The USA will have the right to cancel the agreement if the UAE reneges on its commitment not to engage in enrichment or reprocessing activities.