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23 February 2024

UAE signs civil nuclear deal with US

Condoleezza Rice, left, with Sheikh Abdullah in Washington. (AP)

By Agencies

The UAE and the United States yesterday signed an historic deal to co-operate in a civilian nuclear energy programme. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation that enhances international standards of nuclear non-proliferation, safety and security.

Known as "123 Agreement", after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, the pact establishes a required legal framework for commerce in civilian nuclear energy between the two countries.

"This agreement is an example of the strong relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates," said Sheikh Abdullah. "Under the terms of this agreement, the UAE will gain access to significant capabilities and experience in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It will allow the UAE to develop its civilian nuclear program to the highest standards of safety, security and non proliferation. The agreement will open opportunities for US firms to be active participants in the UAE nuclear energy programme."

Policy commitments include a pledge to forego any domestic fuel enrichment or reprocessing capability, in favour of long-term external fuel supply arrangements.

The 123 Agreement follows the April 2008 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy between the two countries.

Rice said the agreement comes in the context of efforts by the Bush administration to promote nuclear energy as a way to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

An administration official said the deal must now be submitted to both Houses of Congress for review and may be brought into force following a 90-day congressional review. The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that the UAE has already signed agreements with two US engineering companies, Thorium Power Ltd and CH2M Hill, to help with developing nuclear power plants.