x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

US-UAE nuclear pact edges closer

UAE Cabinet officially approves the deal, just days after a 90-day US congressional review period expired.

WASHINGTON // The US-UAE nuclear accord moved a step closer to being implemented yesterday as the UAE Cabinet officially approved the deal, just days after a 90-day US congressional review period expired. The two governments now need only to exchange diplomatic notes, the final step toward implementing the landmark pact, according to US State Department officials. They said they expected the exchange to occur in the coming days.

Officials said they were waiting for final UAE approval of the deal, and that no date for the exchange itself had been set. On October 17, a mandatory 90-day congressional review period expired without any formal objection by legislators, all but guaranteeing the completion of the deal. The agreement has been held up as a model for other states seeking civilian nuclear technology. It includes stringent anti-proliferation measures that open the Emirates to a rigorous programme of inspections.

The UAE would be prohibited from possessing "sensitive nuclear facilities", including those capable of enriching uranium, reprocessing plutonium or making heavy water. Some American legislators raised concerns about the UAE's export controls and the possibility of sensitive materials reaching Iran, but a majority touted the deal as a model for future nuclear accords. The deal was signed on January 15 by Condoleezza Rice, then the US secretary of state, and the Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed. It was submitted to Congress by the Obama administration in May, triggering the mandatory review.

sstanek@thenational.ae