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Compliant MidEast gets nuclear thumbs up

GCC countries reaffirm commitment to NPT at IAEA conference.

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Unlike Iran, GCC countries are keen to cooperate with the IAEA.
Unlike Iran, GCC countries are keen to cooperate with the IAEA.

 Middle Eastern countries looking to develop nuclear power generation have been reassuring the international community of their peaceful intentions at a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, held in Vienna this week.

At the 54th session of the IAEA plenary conference, representatives of the United Arab Emirates were keen to stress that its nuclear programme will be run in strict accord with international guidelines.

"The UAE's decision to embark on this programme took into account all associated regional and international obligations, with the assurance of the highest standards of safety, security and nuclear non-proliferation as main pillars," said Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of foreign affairs, at the conference.

Construction on four nuclear reactors, due to be completed in 2017, will begin later this year in Abu Dhabi.

The island kingdom of Bahrain also signaled its support for IAEA supervision by signing an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The conference comes in the wake of the fuelling of the Bushehr plant in Iran, a process overseen by the IAEA. Iran has since accused the agency of bias, and refuses to cooperate with the inspection regime outside NPT obligations. Western countries fear that Iran is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

While concerned about Iran’s sabre-rattling, the US and the IEAE seem receptive to the aspirations of other countries in the region.
The US signaled its approval to the development of nuclear power generation in the region at the conference. US undersecretary for nuclear security Thomas D’Agostino told reporters at a press briefing that Jordan has the right to develop and enrich its uranium deposits.

Earlier in the week, the Voice of Russia news service reported that the IAEA had given its approval to the first nuclear power plant to be built in Egypt.

A raft of Middle Eastern countries are looking to establish nuclear power generation.

In September, Kuwait became the latest country to grab the headlines by announcing its plans to built four nuclear reactors by 2022.

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