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UAE's 1st nuclear plant to be built next year

Nuclear power plant will be first of four such plants in UAE

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The power plant is said to be situated some 75 kilometres from the Saudi border.
The power plant is said to be situated some 75 kilometres from the Saudi border.

Construction work for the UAE's first nuclear power plant which is scheduled to generate electricity in 2017 is expected to begin within this quarter of next year, an official familiar with the nuclear programme told Gulf News on Monday.

The official also told the newspaper that three other nuclear power plants, which will be built on the same site, located about 75 kilometres from the Saudi border will come online sequentially by 2020.

The official was speaking on the sidelines of an event to mark the release of a semi-annual report by the International Advisory Board (IAB), a body mandated to make an independent assessment of the UAE’s nuclear energy programme.

The report follows extensive meetings conducted between the IAB members and UAE entities operating in the nuclear energy sectors, such as the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).

Chaired by Dr. Hans Blix, the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAB's report assesses the progress of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy programme and reflects the IAB's views on the performance of the programme in five fundamental areas:1) safety, 2) security, 3) non-proliferation, 4) transparency and 5) sustainability. It also provides recommendations for the relevant entities regarding potential strategies to improve and strengthen the programme.

Highlights of the IAB findings include: An assessment that the UAE was committed to make nuclear safety the highest priority in the establishment of FANR and ENEC, including a clear division in the roles and responsibilities of these two entities.

With regard to FANR, the IAB found strong evidence of commitment to regulatory independence and competence, including legal provision designed to insulate regulatory decision makers from outside pressure.

In relation to ENEC, the IAB found a serious commitment to the establishment of a strong safety culture as well as indications that the ENEC management fully understands both the importance and the complexity of this undertaking.

In relation to transparency, the IAB recognised the establishment of the IAB, as well as the decision to give the public access to the IAB's reports as a particularly forward thinking step to assure transparency.

"I am very pleased that our report is made public in line with the policy of openness of the UAE Government. My colleagues and I wholeheartedly support the Government's determination to use nuclear power on a large scale for a clean and sustainable generation of electricity. Our comments and recommendations are offered to assist the Government ensuring safety, non-proliferation and transparency." Said Dr. Blix.

With regard to its recommendations, the IAB among other steps, urged the acceleration of ongoing efforts to put in place a comprehensive legislative framework to govern the import and export of nuclear materials, equipment and technology, as well as to develop and implement a nuclear liability regime consistent with existing standards embodied in arrangements such as the Vienna Convention on Nuclear Liability.

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