Hamad Al Ka’abi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, addresses the general conference in Vienna. Image Credit: WAM

Vienna: The UAE has called on all countries in the region to work towards a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the call in his statement before the 56th Session of the IAEA General Conference.

Al Kaabi said: “My delegation welcomes the director general efforts, in consultation with the countries of the region, to facilitate the early implementation of the comprehensive safeguards in the Middle East on all nuclear activities.

“We welcome the successful convening of the forum last November for this purpose.

“We are committed to supporting all efforts aiming to facilitate the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, including the convening of a successful 2012 conference.”

He added: “We call on all countries of the region to commit to positively contribute to the establishment of the zone, noting that all countries of the region should join the NPT, and fully implement and comply with comprehensive safeguards agreement and their international obligations.”

He also reiterated the UAE’s commitment to working with the Agency towards the enhancement of nuclear safety, security and safeguards worldwide, while promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and making use of the Agency’s central role in this regard.

Al Kaabi also appealed to all countries in the region to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and fully implement and comply with the comprehensive safeguards agreement and their international obligations.

In his address, Al Kaabi said that the UAE started the construction of unit one of Barakah nuclear power plant earlier this summer, making it the first country among nuclear newcomers to start the construction of a nuclear power plant in 27 years,

The Construction Licence, issued by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, took into full consideration the early lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, following last year’s tsunami.

That included additional thorough assessments conducted after the Fukushima incident, which verified and enhanced safety features of the new UAE plant.

These special features take into account extreme natural events and the consequential loss of safety functions.

The UAE is one of the first members to adapt the IAEA integrated guidance for the development of a new nuclear energy programme.

We continue to work closely with the IAEA, and with international partners, to establish a successful and sustainable peaceful nuclear energy programme.

Al Kaabi also pointed out that the UAE recognises the primary role of the Agency, given its technical nature and wide membership, in strengthening the global nuclear safety, and in providing advice and expertise.

He added: “Therefore the UAE calls for strengthening the IAEA role in this field and welcomes all efforts by the Director General in response to Fukushima and the implementation of the IAEA nuclear safety plan.”