The First Nuclear Power Plant in Arab World

BY: Daniel Ranjbar

The First Nuclear Power Plant in Arab World

PEJOURNAL – The United Arab Emirates grew to be the first Arab Country to open a Nuclear Power Plant on Saturday, raising concerns about the long-term consequences of introducing more nuclear programs to the Middle East.

Two other countries in the region — Israel and Iran — already have nuclear capabilities. Israel has an unacknowledged nuclear weapons arsenal and Iran has a controversial uranium enrichment program that it insists is fully for peaceable purposes.

The U.A.E., a tiny kingdom that has grown to be a regional heavyweight and international enterprise center, said it constructed the plant to reduce its reliance on the oil that has powered and enriched the United States and its Gulf neighbors for decades. It said that once its 4 devices had been all running, the South Korean-designed plant would furnish a quarter of the country’s electricity. Dubai Governor Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s vice president and prime minister, tweeted that the country had succeeded in loading nuclear fuel packages and conducting comprehensive tests.

“I congratulate the realization of this historic achievement in the energy sector and the demonstration of this milestone in the Sustainable Development Roadmap”

The Barakeh Nuclear Power Plant, 300 km west of Abu Dhabi, was scheduled to be commissioned in 2017, but safety and regulatory regulations have been cited as reasons for the delay. The UAE Minister Khost stated that the country will eventually launch four nuclear reactors that will supply a quarter of the country’s electricity in safe and reliable ways. The project was launched in 2012 in collaboration with a Korean company and is estimated to cost $ 24.4 billion to build. Actually the different sites and news said or wrote different prices, until now I know about $ 40 billion, $22.4 billion (€19 billion) that show some differences but in any case the first plant from four is in process. 

There are three points that I can see in this topic. We can analyze and talk about it, the first thing and I think one of the important one is Goals of the UAE for building and using this plant. For sure official ideas from UAE and what experts think can be different.

“This is part of the UAE’s drive to diversify its energy economy, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and project its image as a regional leader in science and technology,”

one Gulf analyst told French news agency AFP.

The country has substantial oil reserves however it is investing billions to generate ample renewable energy to cover half of its wishes by 2050. In 2009, the UAE launched a nuclear program. Abu Dhabi has persistently stated its nuclear ambitions are for “peaceful purposes” and that it will no longer be growing uranium enrichment software or nuclear reprocessing technologies.

“The UAE’s investment in these four nuclear reactors risks further destabilizing the volatile Gulf region, damaging the environment and raising the possibility of nuclear proliferation,”

Paul Dorfman, a researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, wrote in an op-ed in March. Noting that the U.A.E. had other energy options, including “some of the best solar energy resources in the world,” he added that “the nature of Emirate interest in nuclear may lie hidden in plain sight — nuclear weapon proliferation.”

I think for sure one of the topics that from now it will start to think and worry about it in the international community is that what if UAE will lie or will also try to make weapons in the Middle East? For sure at least for now we don’t know but what we know is that UAE is not sanctioned by the USA or international community because of this action; it means if you be friends with Power you can do whatever you want.

The next point that takes my attention is about the geographical place where UAE decided to put and create plants. The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant is located near the border with Saudi Arabia on the Emirates coast, separated from Iran and 300 kilometers from Abu dhabi. I should mention that both Saudi and UAE are still in conflict with Yemen and on the other side Iran is under pressure from the US from every side that is possible. This location and this project I think made other arab countries more active to do their own projects as soon as possible; Saudi Arabia in the process of building 16 plants and Qatar as well trying to make it.

The Point is that in the Middle East the term of Nuclear programs for many reasons is becoming more important than other regions and the reason for that is outside actors. US with sanctioning Iran in the same topic and saying that we want region will be in safe and peace, now will go under pressure because US’s friends now want to use and build Nuclear Power Plant; in other side the countries who was and is building these type of plants and projects, are acting active as US too; Soviet Union helped Iran for building and then Russia , South Korea helped UAE and there are news that China helping Saudi Arabia for building these Nuclear Power Plant.

As we can see the region has so many actors, visible and not but what exactly is understandable that US and US policy in the Middle East are going to lose in different positions and it’s made the west more worried than others.

The last point and I think most Important one is concerns; some experts in international relations mention to this topic too, first that the Korean company is not trusted company for building these type of projects and because of that it’s bring second concerns about security of this Nuclear Power Plant; some people believing that the security of this project should be checked more and more. The last term that is under concern is about terrorist groups especially in west of Asia that now have new targets. I should mention another time that UAE is still under war and conflict with Yemen too.

As a result I can say that this project will surely make the region more dangerous and hard to manage especially if the outside actors want to follow their interests. But the most important thing is that now if anything happens to any of these plants in the middle east, the whole region and maybe more than that, there is going to be problems for the present and future.