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UAE First "Newcomer" In 27 Years To Start Nuclear Power Plant Construction

Construction work has started on UAE's first nuclear power plant. (Photo: ENEC)

The United Arab Emirates is the first country to start the construction of its first nuclear power plant in 27 years, since construction was started on China's first plant in 1985.

As of 30 August 2012, the Barakah-Unit 1 is reported in the IAEA Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) as "under construction".

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) poured the first nuclear safety-related concrete on 18 July 2012, after receiving a construction license from the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation (FANR). The first unit of the APR1400 technology supplied by a Korean consortium led by KEPCO is scheduled to be in operation in 2017 and three additional units are planned to be operational by 2020.

The UAE has started its nuclear power programme to meet increasing demand for electricity. The country has been cooperating closely with the IAEA since the beginning of its nuclear energy programme.

In early 2011, the IAEA carried out an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR) to review the status of the UAE's nuclear power programme development. The INIR mission team concluded that the programme has progressed well and has been implemented in line with the IAEA "Milestones" approach. The results of the UAE INIR mission are published on the IAEA website.

An Integrated Regulatory Review Service Mission (IRRS) was conducted by the IAEA in December 2011, covering the UAE regulatory framework for all nuclear activities regulated by FANR. This mission also took into account the lessons learned so far from the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Other embarking countries have also benefitted from IAEA assistance and INIR missions, including Bangladesh, Belarus, Indonesia, Jordan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The UAE is the third country in 2012 to start construction on an NPP. The two other constructions started this year are the Baltiisk-1 Unit in the Russian Federation, and the Shin-Ulchin-1 Nuclear Power Plant in the Republic of Korea. Worldwide there are 64 nuclear power reactors currently under construction.


The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) covers the comprehensive infrastructure required for building a nuclear power programme. Upon request from a Member State, the IAEA conducts INIR missions, including a team of international experts, who have direct experience in specialized nuclear infrastructure areas and specialized IAEA staff.

Building on a Member State's self-evaluation, the mission team reviews the infrastructure status through interviews, site visits and document reviews. Suggestions and recommendations are provided in a report to the Member State, enabling it to update its national action plan accordingly.


The IRRS is designed to enhance the effectiveness of the regulatory infrastructure of States for nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport safety and security of radioactive sources, by reviewing both regulatory technical and policy issues against IAEA Safety Standards and good practises in other countries.

IRRS missions provide a balance between technical and policy discussions among senior regulators and the opportunity to share regulatory experiences, to harmonize regulatory approaches among countries and to create mutual learning opportunities among regulators.


The Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), developed and maintained by the IAEA for over four decades, is a comprehensive database focusing on nuclear power plants worldwide. PRIS contains information on power reactors in operation, under construction or those being decommissioned.

The database covers reactor specification data (status, location, operator, owner, suppliers, milestone dates), technical design characteristics, and performance data including energy production and energy loss data, outage and operational event information.

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