Home to the fifth-largest natural gas reserves and sixth-largest oil deposits in the world with a population the size of New York City, at first glance the United Arab Emirates does not seem an obvious candidate to spend billions to split the atom for energy. With its Barakah nuclear power plant coming online last month, the UAE has become the first Arab country to successfully pursue civilian nuclear power – and the first in a line of fossil fuel-rich Arab states scrambling to go nuclear. The UAE and its neighbors say civilian nuclear energy is critical to lowering their dependency on gas and oil, and the UAE’s 2009 nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States has been hailed in Washington as a “gold standard” for pursuing civilian nuclear power. Yet concerns remain over nuclear proliferation and the potential for an arms race in a region wracked by political divisions and little transparency. That leaves the U.S. to play a pivotal role to ensure its Arab allies’ pursuits remain peaceful – and within its ability to influence. Of the countries in the region, perhaps the one of most concern to the U.S. is its longtime yet opaque ally, Saudi Arabia, which is determined to follow the UAE and become the second Arab state with nuclear power.
Christian Science Monitor 3rd Sept 2020 read more »