KT Editorial : UAE Does the Region Proud

Filed on December 28, 2009

UAE’s decision to award a multibillion-dollar contract for building civilian nuclear reactors to South Korea is an important benchmark.

Costing a staggering $20 billion, it is one of the biggest ever energy contracts in the world. With the establishment of four nuclear reactors, the country will stand proudly on the map of the world’s leading nuclear-powered nations. It is surely a moment of pride for it is not only a testament to achieving a technologically advanced status, it speaks volumes for the leadership that has sought to obtain peaceful nuclear technology in strict adherence to international law.

The government’s decision in choosing a South Korean consortium is believed to be dictated by safety and cost considerations. While other top contenders included heavyweights like US, France and Japan, it was Seoul that has walked away with the prized contract. The fact that South Korea has a long history of safe and advanced nuclear technology probably helped in the decision. It is an important factor to bear in the long-term given the constant maintenance and upgrading of nuclear reactors.

The project, expected to start in 2012, would entail the construction of four 1,400-MW power units. The production of electricity from these reactors is anticipated to meet the growing energy demand, especially clean energy of the country, that is expected to grow to 40,000 MW by 2020. Despite UAE being the world’s third- largest oil exporter, it has had the foresight to seek alternative means to meet its energy requirements. It is good news, for any shortfall in power is likely to be covered once all reactors are operational by 2020. Other positive consequences for the national economy would be the development of specialised human resources. A parallel growth in related areas of technological training and advanced scientific studies is expected to boost this capacity.

UAE’s ability to acquire nuclear energy with international cooperation sets a precedent in the region where other states too are exploring independent civilian nuclear programmes.

The move can be channelised positively for the benefit of other states and can actually prove to be a successful model in helping them acquire similar technology for clean energy. With closer GCC economic integration and plans to establish an inter-regional energy grid, the UAE nuclear power can prove to be a valuable asset. It is a huge and proud moment for UAE, a responsible and helpful state, as it strides into the future.

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