Iranian delegation set to skip Gulf Nuclear Energy conference/Marten Youssef.

  • 23 November 2008

Calls made by Organisers for Group to come to Discussion Table

Organisers of the Gulf Nuclear Energy conference have called on the Iranian delegation to attend the three-day meeting bringing experts from across the world to discuss peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

“We have invited several members and experts from the Iranian community and embassy to attend the conference but we received no response…This issue is of grave importance and can not be taken lightly,” Director General of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), Jamal Al-Suwaidi, told reporters.

The 14th annual energy conference, Nuclear Energy in the Gulf, is being held from tomorrow to Wednesday of this week at the ECSSR. The three-day conference will see Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, and Hans Blix, Chairman for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, give the keynote addresses.

While the two nuclear powers in the region, Iran and Israel, will not be present at the conference, Al-Suwaidi is nonetheless adamant about the importance of discussing the peaceful application of nuclear energy, proliferation risks and climate change.

Efforts by Gulf News to contact the Iranian embassy officials regarding their attendance at the conference were unsuccessful.

“This conference comes at a very significant time, and we want to give everyone the opportunity to be represented here,” Al Suwaidi said. “Nuclear energy can mean nuclear war for some countries and it is essential that we all work together… There is no difference between Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Israel having nuclear weapons. Both are of the same danger,” he added.

Members from the GCC countries will attend the conference along with experts from Sweden, Germany, Austria, Japan, Britain, Pakistan, India and the United States. An expert on Israel’s nuclear energy, John Steinbach, from the United States will also be present.

On April 19 of this year, the UAE Government announced that exponential growth in energy needs is the main reason behind its pursuance for a peaceful nuclear energy civilian programme with direct collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Energy demand is expected to increase by 160 per cent by the next 11 years putting an unrealistic demand on oil and gas production. A Nuclear Energy Programme Implementation Organisation was created to further develop the programme, as recommended by the IAEA. These announcements and more were released in a White Paper submitted in April ultimately reasserting the government’s commitment to a peaceful programme.