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Korea's UAE nuclear contract shows experience counts

Comment South Korea was never the choice of those who expected the Government to make a "political" deal for its civilian nuclear energy programme.

Comment Tom Ashby South Korea was never the choice of those who expected the Government to make a "political" deal for its civilian nuclear energy programme. Some observers were convinced the French would get the atomic contract as part of a growing diplomatic relationship that recently saw the Elysee set up a military base in the Emirates and offer French-made Rafale jets to the Air Force. Others were sure the Japanese, backed by the Americans, would get it. But the Government promised a process based on three criteria of safety, deliverability and commercial viability, not political allegiance. That is what we got.

The Koreans have an unrivalled record in building advanced pressurised water reactors, having put up no less than 20 in the last quarter of a century. Neither the French nor the Japanese can make that claim. Korean reactors have the best availability record in the world, at something above 90 per cent. The Korean bid means that a kilowatt of nuclear power in the Emirates is set to be competitive with the current cost of producing electricity in Abu Dhabi, at just over 20 fils per kilowatt hour.

The big powers can be excused for thinking politics might sway such a momentous decision, but the Government could simply not afford to allow that to happen. @Email:tashby@thenational.ae

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