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IAEA Reviews UAE’s Nuclear Power Infrastructure Development

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Left to Right: Milko Kovachev, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section and Raoul Awad, Deputy Director General for Operations of FANR (Photo: FANR)

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts today concluded an eight-day mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to review its infrastructure development for a nuclear power programme. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) was carried out at the invitation of the UAE Government.

The UAE, seeking a reliable low-carbon source to meet increasing demand for electricity, is building its first nuclear power plant at the Barakah site in Abu Dhabi. The country of almost ten million people has engaged with Korea Electric Power Company to construct and commission four 1400 MW pressurized water reactors.

The INIR mission was the first the IAEA has conducted for a country in the final phase of the IAEA’s Milestones Approach, which provides detailed guidance for developing the infrastructure needed for a nuclear power programme. The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE nuclear regulator, hosted the INIR mission.

“This INIR phase 3 mission is the first of its kind, marking an important milestone for both the UAE and the IAEA,” said team leader Milko Kovachev, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section. “We met with highly motivated and competent professionals from the UAE and the mission was conducted in a cooperative and open atmosphere. The UAE is well-focused in its preparations for the operation of the first unit of the nuclear power plant, although some work remains to be done.”

The team comprised international experts from Slovakia, South Africa, the United Kingdom as well as five IAEA staff. It reviewed the status of 19 nuclear infrastructure issues using an IAEA document entitled “Evaluation of the Status of National Nuclear Infrastructure Development at Milestone 3”. It was the second INIR mission to the UAE, which hosted a phase 2 mission in 2011.

Prior to the INIR mission, the UAE prepared a Self-Evaluation Report covering all infrastructure issues and submitted the report and supporting documents to the IAEA.

The team made recommendations and suggestions, highlighting areas where further actions would benefit the UAE, including: the need for the operating organization to finalize all necessary arrangements required to reach operational readiness; the need for the UAE to approve and implement all the appropriate arrangements for radioactive waste management; and the implementation of arrangements required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the nuclear power programme.

The team also identified good practices that would benefit other countries developing nuclear power programmes in the areas of management and human resource development, nuclear safety, safeguards and safety security interface.

H.E. Ambassador Hamad Alkaabi, UAE’s Permanent Representative at the IAEA, said: “The UAE is rapidly moving forward with the development of its peaceful nuclear energy sector. The successful conclusion of the Phase 3 INIR mission is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to upholding the highest international standards of safety, security, and transparency as we approach the commissioning of the nation’s first nuclear energy plant."

About INIR Missions:

Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions are based on the IAEA Milestones Approach, with its 19 Infrastructure Issues, 3 Phases and 3 Milestones. INIR missions enable IAEA Member State representatives to have in-depth discussions with international experts about experiences and best practices in different countries. In developing its recommendations, the INIR team takes into account the comments made by the relevant national organizations. Implementation of any of the team's recommendations and suggestions is at the discretion of the Member State requesting the mission. The results of the INIR mission are expected to help the Member State to develop an action plan to fill any gaps, which in turn will help the development of the national nuclear infrastructure. The IAEA publishes the INIR mission report on its website 90 days after its delivery to the Member State, unless the State requests in writing that the IAEA not do so.

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