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. UAE vows to import enriched uranium for any reactor
ABU DHABI, April 20 (AFP) Apr 20, 2008
The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that it will import enriched uranium for any reactor it builds as it sought to distance itself from the more controversial aspects of nearby Iran's nuclear programme.

The UAE will apply "complete operational transparency" and closely coordinate with the International Atomic Energy Agency if it goes ahead with the development of a civil nuclear programme, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said.

The oil-rich Gulf state will abide by "the highest standards of non-proliferation ... (and) safety and security" and will also cooperate with the "governments and firms of responsible nuclear supplier nations," the official WAM news agency quoted him as saying.

"In an effort to limit the danger of proliferation, the UAE government has also adopted a policy renouncing the development of any domestic enrichment or reprocessing capabilities in favour of long-term arrangements for the external supply of nuclear fuel," Sheikh Abdullah said.

The Emirati chief diplomat made his remarks to mark the launch of a white paper on "the policy of the United Arab Emirates on the evaluation and potential development of peaceful nuclear energy."

He confirmed a decision announced in March to set up a nuclear energy authority to be named the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), in addition to an international advisory board made up of experts on nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation.

The UAE, which is assessing the possible development of nuclear power to meet its growing energy needs amid robust economic growth, will also sign a number of pertinent international agreements such as the IAEA Additional Protocol and the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety, Sheikh Abdullah said.

He said the UAE's policy was formulated after wide-ranging consultations with the IAEA and the governments of Britain, France, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

France signed a deal to help the UAE develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in January.

The UAE is a member of the pro-Western Gulf Cooperation Council along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Amid concerns over Iran's nuclear aims and regional clout, GCC members decided in December 2006 to develop a joint nuclear technology programme for peaceful uses.

The UAE has said its own programme would complement a joint GCC endeavour.

Iran's efforts to master the nuclear fuel cycle to avoid dependence on foreign suppliers have sparked a standoff with Western powers, which suspect its nuclear programme is aimed at developing an atomic bomb.

Iran strongly denies the charge and insists that it has every right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for civil purposes.

The UAE foreign minister announced the appointment of a pointman on nuclear energy issues, saying Hamad al-Kaabi will serve as his ministry's representative for nuclear cooperation affairs.

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