x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Gargash calls on nuclear states to assist developing nations

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs tells IAEA meeting that developed countries should assist in the spread of peaceful nuclear energy.

The world's most technologically advanced states need to offer more help to developing countries to build nuclear power plants, a senior Government official says. The UAE, which is on track to become the first Gulf state to complete a civilian reactor, sees co-operation with other countries as "a main pillar of UAE policy", Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told an annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna yesterday.

"We believe that the technologically advanced countries should make increasing efforts to facilitate the uses of peaceful nuclear energy to the less advanced countries," Dr Gargash said, according to a transcript of the address released by the state news agency WAM. "By the adoption and implementation of these policies and strategies, the UAE Government hopes to establish a model for other countries that do not possess nuclear energy programmes to be able to develop national nuclear energy programmes with the full support and confidence of the international community."

As part of that new global role, the UAE this week hopes to win a seat on the IAEA's 33-member board of governors, Hamad al Kaabi, the country's permanent representative to the agency, said last week. UAE officials are hoping for one of the two open seats that represent the Middle East and South Asia. Jordan and Iran have also said they would bid for the positions and the matter could be settled by a vote in front of the full 151-member conference, Mr al Kaabi said.

He said the UAE's fast-tracked nuclear development process, which was based on IAEA recommendations, had become a model for developing countries building their first reactors. Advanced countries looking to export their reactors could also learn from the emirate's experiences, Mr al Kaabi said. Among those are France and Japan, which have established government entities to promote nuclear export and co-ordinate the offerings of private companies, he said.

The two countries are looking to "promote the export of nuclear reactors in a way that is similar to what the UAE has requested in the initial phase", Mr al Kaabi said. "I'm talking about this package approach where the consortium companies come together to provide both the construction and operation for the long term." Developing countries expect their nuclear programmes to contribute to the growth of the economy by advancing technology, creating new industries and training engineers and skilled plant operators, he said.

"This is what is really the challenge for new countries," he said. "They don't only want someone to come and build the reactors and go; they would like to share the experience, they would like to benefit from the overall system that exists in the exporting country." cstanton@thenational.ae