Dubai, Apr 22: In a significant development, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Manama, Bahrain.
Oil rich UAE already has an agreement with France to pursue the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the pact with the US would seek to develop nuclear infrastructure, train personnel and ensure safety, according to WAM news agency. Ms Rice described the UAE as a ''responsible partner and a responsible power.'' The UAE said it would source nuclear knowhow from all responsible suppliers worldwide.
The Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) declared their intention to explore possibilities of nuclear energy, though they sit on huge reserves of oil and gas, as an aftermath of Iran's pursuit of the same which is frowned upon by Washington.
Commenting on the signing of MoU yesterday, Mr Abdullah said, ''The UAE-US MoU represents an excellent example of cooperation the UAE hopes to forge with responsible nuclear supplier states in the area of peaceful nuclear energy. There are potential mutual benefits to both parties from deepening cooperation in the development of the UAE's domestic nuclear energy sector.'' According to WAM, the UAE Foreign Minister welcomed the prospect of negotiating a more extensive bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation (known as Section 123 Agreement in the United States), which would establish the necessary legal basis for trade in significant nuclear commodities between the two countries.
The signing followed the public launch of the policy document by the UAE on nuclear power which said it planned to establish a 100 million dollars agency to tap nuclear power to meet increasing demand for electricity.
Mr Abdullah presented his US counterpart a diplomatic note endorsing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The UAE is the 67th nation to join the initiative. With the US deal, UAE is on the way to become the 40th member of the elite nuclear club.