x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 September 2017

UAE calls for more to sign nuclear safety treaty

Ambassador to IAEA urges nations to sign at summit and repeats support for world fuel bank ahead of next non-proliferation talks

DUBAI // The UAE has urged more countries to sign up to a nuclear convention committing them to international standards of safety.

Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the call in Vienna at a meeting ahead of the next non-proliferation summit.

"We encourage all states that have not yet done so to become party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, especially those states with significant nuclear facilities," Mr Al Kaabi said.

The convention was drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1994 and is designed to promote higher safety levels through regular meetings and a system of peer review.

Introduced in 1996, it now has 74 signatories, but 10 have yet to ratify their agreements. They include Syria, Algeria, Egypt and Israel.

The UAE has been a member since October 2009.

Countries that have signed the convention are asked to meet IAEA standards for the location, design, construction and operation of their power plants.

They must also prove they have enough financial and human resources, and volunteer for the assessment and verification of their safety practices, quality assurance and readiness for emergencies.

"All member states should work closely with the IAEA in drawing the right lessons from Fukushima and implementing the adopted IAEA Nuclear Safety Action Plan," said Mr Al Kaabi.

The triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan following an earthquake in March last year, brought nuclear safety back into discussion at the highest political levels in the UAE, he said.

"The UAE is committed to the implementation of IAEA nuclear safety plan and has already taken steps towards this goal," Mr Al Kaabi said.

He said the UAE had concluded its Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review in 2010 and the Integrated Regulatory Review Service last year.

"My delegation believes that the IAEA has a central and leading role to play in harmonising member states' actions to enhance nuclear safety," Mr Al Kaabi said.

In his speech, he reiterated the UAE's support for the establishment of an independent fuel bank for nations to store uranium collectively and create a supply for peaceful purposes.

"We welcome the steps taken towards the establishment of the IAEA fuel bank and encourage further efforts in this area," Mr Al Kaabi said.

The bank has been a topic of discussion for nine years, since the former IAEA director general Dr Mohammed El Baradei suggested it in 2003.

In 2009, the UAE pledged US$10 million (Dh36.7m) to the establishment of the IAEA fuel bank, which would ensure member states forgo any pursuit of technology related to enriching uranium.

"The IAEA has a central and crucial role to play in the development of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, including development of mechanisms for assurance of nuclear-fuel supply, as well as multilateral schemes dealing with the back-end of the fuel cycle," Mr Al Kaabi said.

He was speaking to the preparatory committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

This was this first of three sessions to be held before the 2015 review conference.

Mr Al Kaabi praised the IAEA for its role in ensuring nuclear safety.

"We acknowledge with appreciation all concrete steps taken by the IAEA for this purpose - specifically, those aimed at promoting peer review services and strengthening safety standards," he said.

amustafa@thenational.ae

 

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