Gulf Arab states will adopt a transparent nuclear programme as they gradually switch to this technology for energy, a top Gulf official said on Saturday.
The six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, which control just below half the world’s proven oil deposits, have approved nuclear plans as a post-oil option rather than a response to Iran’s nuclear programme, GCC Secretary General Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah said.
In an interview with the Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies (ECSSR), Attiyah said all Gulf countries have the right to acquire the latest nuclear technology for peaceful and scientific purposes.
“Nuclear technology remains the most practical alternative to conventional forms of energy generation in modern times,”Attiyah told ECSSR, one of the best known think-tank centres in the Middle East.
“The decision of the GCC to initiate studies and the development of this programme for peaceful use was not in response to any other programme in the region.
“This initiative stems from our quest to keep up with modern technological development and to prepare ourselves for times after the oil era, by harnessing alternative sources of energy for electricity generation and desalination under a comprehensive and transparent framework that conforms to international standards and regulations,” he said.
Gulf states have announced long-term plans to use nuclear technology for power generation and other peaceful purposes despite their huge oil and gas wealth. Experts said such plans are meant to save their hydrocarbon wealth for export in the long-term as it provides the bulk of their national income.
“I would also like to say that we [the GCC] have asserted the region’s right to gain experience in the field of nuclear power generation for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international regulations,” Attiyah said.
“Yet, we strongly oppose the use of nuclear technology for military purposes by any side as it could upset the regional power equation,” he added.
Transparent nuclear programme for GCC