The UAE has approved a memo outlining the potential development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the cabinet announced on Sunday.
According to a cabinet statement published by emirates news agency Wam, the country is to establish a Nuclear Energy Implementation Organisation (NEPIO) in line with International Atomic Energy Agnecy (IAEA) recommendations.
The organisation, which will launch with 375 million dirhams ($100 million) capital, will “evaluate and potentially implement a peaceful nuclear energy programme within the UAE”, the statement said.
Included in its remit will be the introduction of a comprehensive legal framework covering all aspects of nuclear law, including safety, security and non proliferation, the statement continued.
It will also offer joint venture arrangements to foreign investors for the construction and operation of future nuclear power plants, and establish an independent regulatory authority empowered to enact safety controls across the sector.
The UAE earlier this month endorsed an agreement signed with France in January to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy.
French companies Total, Suez and Areva have all expressed interest in joining forces to develop plans for two new-generation nuclear reactors which could be up and running by 2016.
According to a memo submitted by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the move represents an “environmentally promising and commercially competitive option which could make a significant contribution to the UAE’s economy and future energy security”.
Sheikh Abdullah said full details would be published to maintain "absolute transparency" in the international community, adding an awareness campaign would be launched to inform UAE citizens about the programme.