The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has inked a law that provides for regulation of development of civilian nuclear programme, thus paving the way for construction of a nuclear power plant with the help of the US.
Washinton’s plant to help UAE in development of peaceful nuclear power is seens as a model of the kind of cooperation it wants to achieve with Iran, which, according to the US and its allies, is using a civilian programme as a cover to develop an atomic weapons capability.
Besides, the UAE, just the Persian Gulf away from Iran, is among those Arab nations wary of Iran’s nuclear work.
A report of the country’s official news agency said on Sunday that UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed into law the regulatory framework for building ‘a peaceful nuclear energy sector’.
The law is in conformity with regulations of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the state-run WAM news agency added.
As per those regulations, the UAE will be prohibited from developing its own programme to enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel, both of which are potential pathways to develop nuclear weapons.
It may be mentioned that President Barack Obama approved in May plans to extend help to the UAE for a civilian nuclear programme to meet its growing demand for electricity in its boomtowns of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
As per the pact, the UAE has to import, rather than produce, fuel for its nuclear reactors. It also has committed not to enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel into plutonium, which is used in nuclear bombs.
The US Congress has until Oct. 17 to pass legislation either amending or rejecting the deal. If no bill is passed, the agreement goes into effect. The pact would run for 30 years and allow the U.S. to transfer nuclear equipment, reactors and materiel for civil nuclear research to the UAE.
Concerns have been raised about the UAE’s history as a transshipment point for material intended for Iran’s nuclear program. Critics of the deal have also pointed to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups use of financial networks in the UAE to launder money.