The United Arab Emirates has contributed $10 million towards a fuel bank proposal originally launched by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in 2006.
The NTI plan calls for a dedicated low-enriched uranium (LEU) stockpile to be owned and administered by the IAEA. The bank would aim to provide States with assurances of nuclear fuel supply, addressing potential disruptions of fuel shipment. At the request of the IAEA Director General, NTI has extended its deadline by another year for the IAEA and its Member States to raise $100 million to trigger a $50 million contribution from NTI. The deadline which was to expire in September 2008 will now expire in September 2009.
Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Special Representative for International Nuclear Cooperation delivered a letter from UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, detailing the UAE’s commitment. The UAE pledge comes on the heels of three previous financial commitments made by (1) NTI, backed by NTI advisor Warren Buffet, (2) the United States and (3) Norway.
In his letter, the UAE Foreign Minister stated “Given the UAE Government policy commitments to the highest standards of non-proliferation and in support for global non-proliferation goals, the Government of the United Arab Emirates would like to express its political and financial support for the proposed IAEA-administered international low-enriched uranium fuel bank “.
“I welcome the UAE’s contribution to the establishment of a nuclear fuel reserve under IAEA auspices,” said IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed El Baradei. “The UAE donation marks another important milestone towards supporting mechanisms for non-discriminatory, non-political assurances of supply of fuel for nuclear power plants.” The UAE launched its policy on nuclear energy in April 2008. Entitled “Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy”, the policy is based on principles of complete operational transparency and highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation. According to the policy, the UAE is committed to work directly with the IAEA and responsible nations in developing its domestic nuclear energy programme. It lays out commitments and strategies that define the framework in which nuclear energy will be developed in the UAE. By undertaking these commitments the UAE hopes to establish a model for other nations pursuing nuclear energy that is characterized by the highest standards of non-proliferation.
Al Kaabi noted that the UAE’s recently-published policy commits the UAE to forgo fuel enrichment in favor of long-term fuel supply arrangements with reliable and responsible governments and contractors. He added that the UAE’s financial and political support for developing a network of multi-lateral fuel assurances is consistent with this policy.
“The UAE financial contribution to the proposed fuel bank should provide incentives for other states to follow the UAE model to forgo enrichment and rely exclusively on the international market in nuclear fuels, backed up by supplier commitments and an IAEA fuel bank, to meet their needs for nuclear fuel for power reactors. In this context, the UAE encourages other States to support the IAEA’s initiatives in establishing multi-lateral fuel assurance programmes” added Mr. Al Kaabi.
Today’s UAE funding announcement brings the total committed amount for a nuclear fuel bank to $115 million, leaving a remaining $35 million to be raised to reach the NTI plan’s initial stated target of $150 million. Previous contributions for the NTI fuel bank plan include a $50 million pledge made by NTI, backed by NTI advisor Warren Buffet, $50 million by the US Government and a $5 million pledge from Norway.