The Nuclear Transparency Approach

  • 22 April 2008

The UAE recently issued a white paper called “The Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy.” According to the paper, the UAE government would be setting up an institute for nuclear energy to evaluate the possibility of developing peaceful nuclear program in the country. This move coincides with a government announcement on its preparation of a comprehensive draft law for peaceful nuclear energy, which would be drawn on the basis of the white paper declaration.

Undoubtedly, the establishment of this institution is the first step towards UAE's commitment to transparency, an issue important to affirm the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, which follows the recommendations of a recent government study. The study also stated that domestic demand for electricity would increase to 40,000 megawatts by the year 2020. Based on this scientific fact, the development of nuclear energy would offer a viable option from a commercial and environmental perspective as well. The UAE's nuclear program would effectively contribute to the national economy, which is expected to grow exponentially in the future. According to a recent report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the UAE registered 9.4% growth during the year 2006, and forecasts indicate further growth in the future.

If the white paper has ensured transparency in the UAE's policy for a peaceful nuclear program for supporting the development process, the comprehensive draft law for peaceful nuclear energy—that would be in line with the white paper's declaration—has also incorporated a set of significant measures for its functioning. The most important of these is the provision for the formation of an authorized body that regulates granting of licenses for nuclear facilities, specifies regulations for granting licenses to entities and operators, sets guidelines for handling and managing radioactive wastes and nuclear fuel, and sets down the immediate shutting down of nuclear facilities and nuclear reactors at the end of their operational lifetime, in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It goes without saying that the declared policy of transparency adopted by the government in availing the nuclear option is in harmony with the foundations of the UAE's foreign policy and in keeping with its positions on all international matters, as the UAE is keen fully, to provide the proper environment for the consolidation of cooperation in these issues. In the same vein, the legislation to manage the nuclear program is reflective of the UAE's keenness to avoid any risks that may arise from the functioning of nuclear power plants, is consistent with its firm commitment to environmental safety, and reflects its eagerness to strictly adhere to all international agreements on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, primarily Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed in 1968.

Definitely, the transformation of the UAE government’s nuclear option, from the conceptual to the execution stage in a relatively short period of time, indicates the outstanding progress made on this strategic project. Moreover, it highlights its determination to avail the peaceful benefits of nuclear technology, and this manifests the desire and the will to achieve more development with the contribution of the nuclear program of a peaceful nature. The project is expected to give a fillip to all aspects of development process.