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Australia to sign nuclear cooperation and safety agreement with UAE

Uranium fuel to be provided once nuclear plants are operational by 2017

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Australia will provide the UAE with uranium fuel once nuclear plants are operation by 2017, Gulf News has learnt.

Bob Carr, Australian Foreign Minister, will sign a nuclear cooperation and safety agreement treaty with UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs premises on Tuesday.

According to the agreement, Australia, which is the biggest producer of uranium (fuel) as the country holds about 40 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves, will provide the UAE with Uranium fuel once nuclear plants are operation by 2017. In 2011, Australia started negotiations to sell uranium to the UAE on condition that it is only used for peaceful power generation.

The Australian government earlier announced that it does not sell uranium on the open market. It solely sells uranium for power generation under strict conditions that ban any military applications in bilateral trade agreements with the USA, South Korea, Taiwan, China and other European countries. Australia bans nuclear power generation at home.

The UAE is a signatory to the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has also signed the additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on nuclear safeguards. The UAE has already ratified that treaty and has concluded nuclear safeguards agreements mid July 2012.

According to the treaty, the UAE is committed not to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel into plutonium, which is used in nuclear bombs.

The UAE has signed bilateral agreements on peaceful nuclear co-operation with a number of countries including the US, UK, France, Japan and South Korea.

The overall construction cost of the four units will be Dh73.5 billion ( US$20 billion).

The UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FNAR) on July 18, 2012 granted the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) a licence to construct a multi-billion nuclear energy project for two nuclear power reactor units (1 and 2) at its proposed Barakah site in the Western Region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The consortium of South Korean companies will construct and operate four 1,400 megawatt reactors in the UAE; the first is expected to start operating in 2017 and the others by 2020.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) officially commenced on July 19 the construction of the UAE’s first nuclear energy plant Wednesday by pouring the first nuclear safety concrete for Barakah Unit 1.

Barakah was selected as the preferred site for the plant following a comprehensive analysis of multiple locations across the UAE. The analysis included seismic history, security, distance from large population centers, proximity to large supplies of water, and environmental considerations.