Preliminary report on GCC nuclear energy by year-end




The IAEA delegation is meeting with a team representing the six GCC member countries to discuss the implementation of IAEA regulations for the development of nuclear power. The meeting aims at drawing up a preliminary report to be submitted to GCC leaders at the next summit scheduled to take place in December in Muscat, Oman.




GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah said the IAEA would begin reviewing the rise in demand for electricity and fresh water in member states over the next two decades. The report would also include a feasibility study for using nuclear power to desalinate seawater.



The report will analyze the needs of the region in the event of a future spike in oil and gas prices on the world market.



The international body will estimate the requirements of developing the nuclear program in terms of manpower, infrastructure and facilities. The two sides will also establish a timeframe and legislative framework for the implementation of IAEA regulations aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons-enrichment programs. The IAEA is also involved with ensuring the safe implementation of nuclear plants.



Attiyah ruled out the possibility of any GCC member state inaugurating a nuclear-energy program any time soon due to the need for more research on the issue. “It could take years,” he said.



Kuwait’s foreign minister gave a more precise estimate. “From the moment the decision was taken, it could take between 12 and 15 years to complete the establishment of a nuclear plant,” Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah told Al-Qabas daily last week.



The GCC leaders had announced in a joint statement that they would begin developing a civilian nuclear program in accordance with international law and with the cooperation of the IAEA. The announcement was made during the last GCC summit, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia in December.



In his opening speech, Attiyah said that nuclear energy is considered to be one of the most important sources for producing electricity in the world today.



He attributed the rising demand for nuclear energy by both developing nations and developed nations to the high safety measures that have been put in place in the past two decades, especially after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. He said nuclear energy had become especially important considering the rise of oil prices and an expected depletion in gas and oil sources in the future.



Attiyah said demographic and economic growth in the region makes acquiring nuclear energy vital to replacing the expected increase in carbon-energy in the region for domestic consumption.



“There will be more need for power plants and desalination plants and the demand for oil and gas to fuel these plants will be on the rise,” he said. “(Nuclear energy) will also help reduce carbon dioxide emission.”



The secretary-general stressed that the GCC had it made it clear that it would maintain cooperation with the IAEA, including allowing inspectors to monitor radiation levels.



Peter Salima, head of the IAEA negotiation team, said that the nuclear program would also benefit the health sector as well as the agriculture sector in the GCC countries. The preliminary report, he added, “would upgrade the legislative and regulatory framework for radiation protection and nuclear safety including a review of the status of accession of the GCC member states to the international agency’s safety instruments.”


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