Letter to the Editor, New York Times
Reference NYT 08/01/20 – U.A.E. Becomes First Arab Nation to Open a Nuclear Power Plant. The launch is raising concerns about the growing number of nuclear programs in the volatile Middle East.
This article skates past important facts to present a point of view that equates commercial nuclear reactors with nuclear weapons. It fails to put the UAE nuclear program in context and neglects to report on the actions of other nuclear states, like Russia, in the region.
The UAE has signed an agreement with the U.S. under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act which removes the possibility the country will enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel.
The article fails to mention the UAE’s rigorous nuclear safety program to license its reactors implemented by an independent regulatory agency.
The reactors at the Barakah site in the UAE are shielded by four foot thick containment structures which are impervious to the kind of attack launched by the Houthi rebel group.
Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to build nuclear power plants have been downsized from a plan to construct 16 1000 MW units to just two 1400 MW units. The reason is the original plan became unaffordable due to the low price of oil.
It is true the Saudi government has stated it will not sign a ‘123″ agreement similar to the one for the UAE leaving the U.S. with little influence over its plans. That country could easily get all the nuclear reactor technology it needs from Pakistan or China.
The article neglects to point out the Russians have plans to build four 1200 MW commercial nuclear reactors for Egypt. The article neglects to report that the Russians are also building four similar commercial nuclear power plants in Turkey and two of them are already under construction.
The New York Times would do a service for its readers by updating the current news report to present a more complete picture of the outlook for nuclear energy in the region.
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