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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It starts: Emirates first two nuke plants applies for licenses, to go online by '17

Anyone who thought that an Iranian nuclear capability would not set off an arms race in the Middle East needs to be concerned about this: The United Arab Emirates has submitted its first two applications for operating licenses for nuclear power plants, with four such power plants expected to go online by 2020.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) will now examine the submission. ENEC is aiming to receive the operating licence for Barakah unit 1 in 2016, in time for the plant to become operational in 2017, with the licence for Barakah 2 expected to be received the same year. The company is seeking a licence to operate both units for 60 years, in line with the expected operating life of the Korean-designed APR1400 units.
ENEC CEO Mohammad Al Hammadi said the on-time submission of the OLA was a crucial milestone towards the 2017 start-up of the UAE's first nuclear power plant. "The submission is the culmination of many years of work by ENEC and Kepco. It is proof of the organization's successful transformation into a world-class nuclear operating company," he said.
ENEC has already applied to FANR for two separate licences covering the import, receipt and possession of radioactive and nuclear materials, which it anticipates receiving well ahead of its first fuel load for Barakah 1 in 2016.
Barakah will ultimately comprise four APR-1400 reactors built by the KEPCO-led consortium. Unit 1, under construction since 2012, is now over 69% complete and on schedule for its 2017 start-up. Units 2, 3 and 4 are scheduled to follow on at 12-month intervals, with units 2 and 3 under construction. Work has yet to begin on the fourth unit, which is expected to start up in 2020.
The Emirates has the fourth largest (fifth if you include OPEC as a country) proven oil reserve in the world.  Now, obviously these plants are intended for civilian purposes (the United States actually is helping the UAE to build the plants), but Iran claims the same thing about their nuclear power plants, and one has to wonder whether the United Arab Emirates would be seeking a nuclear energy capability were it not facing Iran, which will soon have one. And like Iran, the UAE is not exactly a democracy.

What could go wrong?

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