UAE and USA negotiate 123 Agreement

16 December 2008

The USA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have completed negotiations on the text of a bilateral agreement that would allow the transfer of nuclear energy-related materials and components between the two countries.


The UAE launched a nuclear energy policy earlier this year to help meet an energy demand forecast to double by 2020, by which time it hopes to have several nuclear power plants running. It has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy with the USA, but a 123 Agreement - so called because it is stipulated in Section 123 of the 1954 US Atomic Energy Act - is a prerequisite for nuclear trade between the USA and another country.


Citing UAE foreign ministry sources, UAE state news service WAM reported that representatives of both governments had been working together to complete the proposed text. ''We are confident that the agreement highlights the transparency of the civilian nuclear energy program the UAE is embarking on and should be lauded as the gold standard of nuclear cooperation agreements," said Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the USA. No detail was provided on when the agreement might be formally signed.


The UAE, which is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has signed cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with a number of countries and companies including the UK and France. In October it appointed US-based C2HM Hill as managing agent for its nuclear power program. The UAE is reported to have invited expressions of interest from nine short-listed companies for construction of its first nuclear power plant.