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Sun 20 Apr 2008 06:32 PM

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UAE pledges highest standards of nuclear safety

Gov't publishes policy with six 'guiding principles' on atomic energy development.

UAE pledges highest standards of nuclear safety
NUCLEAR PLEDGE: The UAE has promised to adhere to the highest standards of safety and transparency with its nuclear programme. (Getty Images)

The UAE has promised to adhere to the highest standards of safety and transparency in guidelines for the development of atomic power published on Sunday.

The government has drawn up a policy that include six "guiding principles" for the implementation of atomic power in an effort to avoid any potential international concerns over the Gulf state acquiring nuclear technology.

The advancement of nuclear technology in the Middle East is a thorny issue at the moment due to neighbour Iran's continued refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which produces a key component used in nuclear weapons.

The UAE said the development of atomic power was crucial in meeting the Gulf state's future power needs, with electricity demand set to more than double by 2020.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said in a statement the continued growth of the UAE required access to affordable energy.

"…for this reason the UAE has begun to evaluate the potential contribution of peaceful nuclear energy to its future domestic energy mix," he said.

The six principles outlined in the white paper - Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the evaluation and potential development of peaceful atomic energy - include complete operational transparency, the highest standards of non-proliferation and the highest standards of safety and security.

The principles also include close coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cooperation with the government and firms of responsible nuclear supplier nations and a commitment to long term sustainability.

In addition, the UAE will form an international advisory board of experts in nuclear safety and development.

Details about the potential location of any the nuclear reactor or timescale for construction were not disclosed.

The policy's publication comes less than a month after the government approved a memo outlining the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

The UAE plans to establish a Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organisation (NEPIO) in line with IAEA recommendations, which will launch with 375 million dirhams ($100 million) capital.

The UAE in January signed an agreement with France to cooperate on the development of atomic 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.

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