Up to 20 Korean nuclear experts are expected to be on site by as early as July to monitor the construction of Abu Dhabi's nuclear reactors .
Korean nuclear experts en route to Abu Dhabi
SEOUL // Up to 20 Korean nuclear experts are expected to be on site by as early as July to monitor the construction of Abu Dhabi's nuclear reactors .
South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, a four-month-old independent regulator, plans to open an office in Baraka, the proposed nuclear plant site 300km from Abu Dhabi, as soon as construction starts, said Kang Chang-Sun, the regulator's chairman, adding that July was a potential date. The timetable depends on the approval of the UAE's nuclear regulator.
Concerns over safety and transparency have been high in Korea since reports emerged this month that the nation's oldest nuclear reactor had briefly lost power to its cooling systems. It was several weeks before the accident was reported.
Mr Kang said he met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, this week and reassured him that the South Korean design was secure.
"I have promised them that the world's safest plant is in Abu Dhabi," Mr Kang said on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Seoul. "I always considered the Braka site as one of our own - so I promised this."
Sheikh Mohammed was among the 53 ministers and heads of state at a summit in South Korea this week centring on nuclear security.
"It is a reflection of the policy and also the priority the UAE gives to nuclear security," Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, said this week in the South Korean capital.
"What the Seoul summit does is … give more of a push to nuclear security as something that continues to be an important issue."
South Korea operates 23 reactors and is building several more using its newest model, the APR 1400 - the same one Abu Dhabi ordered in a US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn) contract in 2009.
The emirate plans to build four reactors alongside a consortium led by Korea Electric Power, with the first expected to start sending electricity to the grid in 2017.