UAE Seeks US Congress Nod for Nuclear Pact

ABU DHABI - The UAE said on Monday that it is working to secure American lawmakers’ endorsement of a planned nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United States.

By Reuters & Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 17 Dec 2008, 12:35 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Apr 2015, 1:26 PM

Dr Mohammed Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, confirmed to Khaleej Times that the negotiations have been completed but said no agreement has been signed yet.

“Representatives of the US administration and the UAE government are working closely with members of Congress to inform them about the agreement and seek their views,” the official Wam news agency quoted the UAE’s Ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, as saying.

“The proposed ... agreement sets a new standard in ensuring the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation within the UAE programme.” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a memorandum of understanding with the UAE in April pledging to cooperate on a peaceful nuclear energy programme, with the emirates promising to be a “responsible partner”.

Once enacted, the pact would allow for the transfer of nuclear-related components and materials. But Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lethinen, the ranking Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation earlier this week blocking the deal unless stringent conditions were met.  She said the UAE needed to do more to cooperate with international efforts to curb Iran’s ambitions. Iran is at loggerheads with the United States over its nuclear programme. Teheran’s refusal to stop uranium enrichment has drawn three rounds of United Nations sanctions since 2006. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday there was agreement with the UAE on the text but it was unclear when it may be signed pending consultations with US lawmakers. The UAE has promised to draw up laws to govern the sector and establish a nuclear regulatory authority and an international advisory board of nuclear experts.  

It has also signed a nuclear cooperation deal with France and pledged to work with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Asked about reports of the planned US nuclear deal with the UAE, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said every country has a right to diversify its energy sources but it shows double standards when Washington opposed Teheran’s plans.

“Any country might make an effort to diversify its peaceful sources of energy and these are positive measures. That is why we proposed the idea of a consortium with regional countries,” he told a news conference.

He was referring to an Iranian proposal to set up a regional consortium to enrich uranium to make nuclear fuel. The UN Security Council has demanded that Iran stop its own enrichment work, which the West says is to make bombs. Iran denies that.

“This issue is the problem for the American side which wants to have a selective approach towards this natural right (to use peaceful nuclear energy),” he said.

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