Dec 16, 2021
16 December 2021, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is hosting this week the official visit of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi who is touring the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant among other sites in his planned schedule.
Being a newcomer nuclear country, the UAE has become in 2020 the first Arab country to operate a nuclear power plant, under the wise visionary direction of UAE leadership. It currently has four units at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, where first unit is commercially operated and delivering electricity to the national grid, second unit is undergoing a testing phase, third unit construction is complete, and fourth unit construction rate is 91%.
Since 1976, the UAE has a robust collaboration with the IAEA in nuclear and non-nuclear power aspects. In 2008, the UAE-IAEA relationship was further strengthened when the UAE launched its Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy (known as Nuclear Policy). The policy is built on the most rigorous international standards of safety, transparency and security, making the UAE a role model for nuclear energy development worldwide, being a success story for nuclear newcomer according to the IAEA.
The IAEA has been supporting the UAE in developing the nuclear power programme to meet the increasing energy demand. The agency has provided guidance on the development of the national nuclear infrastructure where the UAE received 12 IAEA-led missions covering nuclear safety, nuclear security, radiation protection, emergency preparedness, capacity building, as well as legal and regulatory systems, and nuclear non-proliferation.
“It was very impressive to visit Barakah and see first-hand all what the UAE has achieved over the past decade in becoming the first Arab country to build and operate a nuclear power plant. The UAE’s 100 percent commitment to introduce a peaceful nuclear power programme in a safe and secure way can serve as a model for other countries considering this clean energy source to help ensure sustainable prosperity for their people. As with other member states introducing or expanding their existing nuclear energy programmes, the IAEA has worked closely with the UAE from the beginning to help it turn this vision into reality,” said Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“The visit of the IAEA’s Director-General to the UAE to tour the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant and other key institutions is an important endorsement for the UAE’s being a role model country for nuclear newcomers in building and operating a nuclear power plant. The strong collaboration that binds the UAE and IAEA is a cornerstone for ensuring the delivery of the UAE’s energy needs and maintaining highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation,” said H.E. Hamad Al Kaabi, Ambassador and Resident Representative of the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the IAEA.
Accompanied by H.E. Hamad Al Kaabi, Mr. Grossi visited the headquarters of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) where he toured the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and was briefed about the UAE’s emergency preparedness and response system to address nuclear or radiological emergencies. During his visit, he met with FANR’s young Emirati engineers where he shared his career insights and discussed future opportunities of regulating the nuclear sector. In addition, he was introduced to the latest innovative regulatory inspection practices at FANR.
Since its inception in 2008, the UAE government has been investing in building human capacity, especially among Emiratis to ensure the sustainability of the nuclear energy programme to serve the nation’s needs. The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the nuclear regulator in the UAE, employs over 245 employees, with emiratization rate stands at 72%. FANR has been supporting the UAE government goals to be among the top 25 countries achieving gender balance by 2021. It achieved significant strides in empowering women by adopting its Gender Balance Strategy and currently women represents 42% of workforce and hold 50% of leadership positions. In addition, it has 39 female engineers and young people represents 44 % of total workforce.
Following the UAE’s National Agenda goals, FANR‘s Research and Development contributed significantly in building and maintaining high levels of nuclear and radiation safety knowledge. FANR’s R&D Policy helped attract and support Emiratis in scientific research, leading to publishing 79 papers by its employees in conferences as well as sponsoring 24 employees in specialized nuclear-related research.
The UAE Nuclear Energy Programme, including the nuclear law and regulations, conforms to the highest Safety Standards of the IAEA and the international best practices. The UAE government has been committed to the principle of transparency, enshrined in the UAE nuclear policy, by adhering to international conventions and agreements such the IAEA’s Safeguard Agreement and its Additional Protocol and the Convention on Nuclear Safety and other instruments. Such commitments ensure the programme is designed for peaceful purposes and in line with national and international laws.
It is noteworthy that the UAE and IAEA have signed this month the UAE’s Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the period of 2021-2027. A CPF is the frame of reference for the medium-term planning of technical cooperation between a Member State and the IAEA and identifies priority areas where the transfer of nuclear technology and technical cooperation resources will be directed to support national development goals. The 2021-2027 CPF identifies four priority areas: nuclear energy and infrastructure; nuclear and radiation safety and security; human health; and finally food and agriculture.