At the Gulf Co-operation Council Summit in December 2006 leaders of the six countries that make up the group announced plans for a shared nuclear programme.
Officials from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE said it was their right to make use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as power generation.
In the UAE, the government is reportedly looking at the feasibility of constructing a $4 billion (Dh14.7bn) nuclear reactor.
The UAE signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as early as 1996, and is now pursuing the use of nuclear technology in the fields of water desalination and medicine.
According to statistics, the UAE is the world’s third largest per capita consumer of water after the United States and Canada.
It is also the second largest producer of desalinated water after Saudi Arabia.
The consumption of water is expected to increase by 44 per cent to 3.2 billion cubic metres by 2025.
UAE officials believe the use of nuclear technology would be cost-effective and would help the country spare millions of dirhams each year spent on water desalination projects fuelled by oil and gas.
In the 1960s the International Atomic Energy Agency itself started surveying the feasibility of using nuclear reactors for desalination of seawater.
Nuclear desalination has already been implemented in certain regions in Kazakhstan and Japan. In 1960, nuclear power worldwide provided one per cent of all electricity, in 1986, it provided 16 per cent and in 2006, nuclear power provided 15 per cent. By the end of 2006 there were 435 reactors operating on Earth and 29 were under construction.
The US has 103 operating units, France has 59, Japan has 55 plus one under construction, and Russia has 31 operating reactors with seven under construction.
Asia is leading the new trend for nuclear power with 15 of the 29 nuclear units now being built located in the Far East and India is building seven plants. (With inputs from Asia Water Wire and International Atomic Energy Agency)
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