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UAE issues safety assurances about Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant

Emirates' Permanent Representative to the IAEA 'refutes false claims' about project's safety after Qatar's allegations

Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is being built in Abu Dhabi.
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Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is being built in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has issued assurances about the safety of Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which is at an “advanced construction stage” in Abu Dhabi and is 91% complete.

In a statement cited by UAE state news agency, Wam, Ambassador Hamad Ali Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the country “does not believe that there is any concern regarding the safety of its nuclear power plant”, which uses third-generation nuclear technology comprising four Korean-designed reactors.

“Moreover, the UAE [has] received in the past decade more than 10 peer-review missions covering various aspects [of the project, such as] nuclear infrastructure, the legal and regulatory system, nuclear safety, security, emergency preparedness and non-proliferation, and the reports of these missions are publicly available.”

Operations are expected at Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant by 2020.

READ: Barakah cybersecurity meets global standards, says ENEC chief

Al Kaabi’s statement was released after a Reuters news story, dated 20 March, 2019, reported allegations by Qatar that Barakah’s technology is “relatively untested”.

Citing Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Reuters report added: “A radioactive plume from an accidental discharge could reach [Qatar’s] capital Doha in five to 13 hours and a radiation leak would have a devastating effect on the region’s water supply because of its reliance on desalination plants.”

Al Kaabi said that the UAE has an independent nuclear regulatory authority in place to ensure the safety and security of the Barakah plant, including its “construction and commissioning according to the highest international safety standards”.

His statement continued: “The UAE is part of international conventions, which reflects the nation’s commitment to ensure safety and security of the nuclear programme. The UAE is a Contracting Party to the Convention on Nuclear Safety since 2009, [and] takes active part in the Review Meeting at IAEA, which holds its meeting every three years to answer all matters related to the nuclear programme as raised by IAEA member states.

“We encourage all countries, including our neighbours, to participate in such fora.

 “The UAE does not believe that there is any concern regarding the safety of its nuclear power plant, however we encourage interested countries to use the right venues where such information on nuclear safety can be provided and questions can be addressed, [and in particular], to participate at the Convention on Nuclear Safety review process to learn more about the advanced safety approach of UAE Nuclear Energy Programme.”

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