Beirut, Lebanon-The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to open a nuclear power plant on Saturday, raising concerns about the long-term consequences of implementing more nuclear programs in the Middle East.
Two other countries in the region-Israel and Iran-already have nuclear capabilities. Israel has an unrecognized nuclear weapons arsenal, and Iran has a controversial uranium enrichment program, which it insists is only used for peaceful purposes.
The UAE is a small country that has become a regional heavyweight international trade center. The country stated that the purpose of building the plant is to reduce its dependence on oil, which has been powering the country and its Gulf neighbors for decades and making it Be rich. It said that once its four units are fully operational, the South Korean-designed power plant will provide a quarter of the country̵
In order to allay fears that it is trying to build a strong force against its regional competitors, it insists that it intends to use its nuclear program only for energy purposes.
However, as Iran’s nuclear program is at a deadlock with Western powers, Israel’s tensions between neighboring countries and the Gulf countries have increased. Some analysts regard the new factory and the new factory that may follow as a safety and environmental headache. . Other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, are also launching or planning nuclear energy programs.
The Middle East is already full of hostility, making Saudi Arabia and the UAE contend with Iran, Qatar and Iran’s regional proxies. One of these agents is the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group, which claimed to have attacked the Baraka factory during the construction of the Baraka factory in 2017.
It is widely believed that Iran was behind a series of attacks on Saudi oil facilities and tankers crossing the Gulf last year.
Paul Dorfman, a researcher at the Institute of Energy Research at University College London, wrote in a March column: “The UAE’s investment in these four nuclear reactors may further shake up the turbulence in the Gulf region, damage the environment, and increase nuclear The possibility of proliferation.”
He pointed out that the UAE has other energy options, including “some of the best solar resources in the world”, adding: “The nature of the emirate’s interest in nuclear may be hidden in front of us-the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
But the UAE has stated that before considering the conversion of natural gas and renewable energy to nuclear power, it has taken them into account because their output is not sufficient to meet its needs.
It provided evidence that its intention was peaceful, and it pointed to its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has reviewed the Barakah project and signed a nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United States in 2009 to enable It can receive nuclear material. And technical assistance provided by the United States, while banning uranium enrichment and other possible bomb development activities.
This does not convince Qatar. Qatar filed a complaint with the International Nuclear Supervisory Organization regarding the Barakah power plant last year, saying it “posed a serious threat to the stability of the region and its environment.”
The UAE’s oil exports account for about a quarter of its gross domestic product. Despite the influx of oil, it has imported more and more natural gas in recent years to partly power its energy-intensive desalination plants.
The de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed (Mohammed bin Zayed) said on Twitter on Saturday: “We are proud to witness the start of operation of the Baraka nuclear power plant, which meets the highest international safety standards.”
The new nuclear facility is located in the coastal Garbiya region, near Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and is the first of some potential nuclear power plants in the Middle East. Egypt plans to build a power plant with four nuclear reactors.
Saudi Arabia is also building a civilian nuclear reactor while reaching a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States, although the Trump administration has stated that it will only sign such an agreement if it includes safeguards for weapons development.