The United Arab Emirates said it inked an agreement with Russia Monday to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the development and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, after the Gulf state was given the go-ahead earlier this year for construction of two nuclear power units, the first in a string of civilian power plants planned in the strategically sensitive Persian Gulf region.
The deal sets out a legal framework that allows the transfer of information, technology, equipment and nuclear material between Abu Dhabi and Moscow, according to an emailed joint statement.
It would facilitate further cooperation between the nuclear industries of both countries, it said. The U.A.E. faces soaring demand for electricity as its economy expands and it is hoped that nuclear energy will eventually help it meet 25% of its power consumption. Earlier this year, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. said it had secured a construction license for two South Korea-designed advanced pressurized water reactors, each capable of producing 1,400 megawatts of electricity. The state company, which develops nuclear power plants in the U.A.E., has already started construction of the first unit in Barakah, in western Abu Dhabi, and is expected to start building its second reactor next year.
The U.A.E. is investing billions of dollars in developing alternate sources of energy as part of plans to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons. Its planned nuclear reactors are set to be the first in a string of civilian power plants in the Persian Gulf region, where other countries, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have also declared in recent years their intent to pursue nuclear energy.
Unlike neighboring Iran, the U.A.E. is committed to not enriching uranium itself or to re-processing spent fuel.
Hamad al-Kaabi, the Gulf state’s national representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has previously said that the oil producer hasn’t yet finalized a strategy for managing spent fuel from the reactors, but a national waste strategy document is in advanced stages of negotiation.