UAE adopts Nuclear law ahead of power plant contracts
The United Arab Emirates has adopted a civilian nuclear energy law that paves the way for contracts worth US $41 billion for the construction of power plants. The law, issued by presidential decree, prohibits the enrichment of uranium, the process by which the substance is transformed into nuclear fuel and atomic bombs, the official agency reported. The UAE has set up the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation to oversee and guarantee nuclear safety and security, and devise a system to accredit workers in the sector across its seven emirates.
The government has invited bids to build nuclear power plants in contracts worth US$ 41 billion.
US President Barack Obama approved a civilian nuclear deal with the UAE in May and earlier this year, the UAE signed a nuclear energy deals with France during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Analysis and forecast: decreasing risk
The law is an important step towards the building of the first nuclear reaction in the UAE for the purpose of energy generation. Rapid development in the UAE, most notable in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has meant the UAE’s demand for electricity soared, with an insufficient increase in supply. Several emirates have started suffering in recent years from incessant power cuts. Despite plans to increase electricity production, nuclear energy was seen as the only long-term solution to what was quickly becoming a chronic problem not only for the UAE, but for the rest of the GCC.
The fact that the law was now been passed paves the way for the building of the first plant, which is expected by 2017. The law also bans the enrichment of uranium, and will therefore mean that the UAE will have to import its nuclear fuel. Although this removes some of the independence of the UAE in terms of energy generation, it is thought that such a move would alleviate unannounced concerns by various international parties for using the nuclear reactor for non-civilian reasons.