No future for GCC nuclear plan

25 April 2008
Waiting for the GCC to get its act together is not an option. Individual states must put their own needs first.

Gulf governments have been announcing agreements, plans and regulations for their budding civilian nuclear programmes at a rapid rate.

This week, the UAE showed it was serious about building a nuclear power plant by moving two steps closer to that goal.

A memorandum of understanding on co-operation with the US was preceded by the release of a white paper outlining government policy on the matter.

The UAE is not alone. Qatar and Bahrain have already signed agreements with France and the US respectively, and Riyadh has held exploratory talks with Washington.

This activity raises serious doubts about the state of the GCCís plans for a joint nuclear programme.

As the availability of gas for future power generation grows more uncertain, the region is being forced to turn to alternative sources of energy to ensure its ability to meet ever-increasing demand for power and water.

In that context, a joint plan among the six GCC member states to develop nuclear power makes sense, as they can share experiences and the high cost of developing plants.

But there have been no fresh announcements from the GCC about its region-wide plans for months, and member states do not have the time to spare.

A decision to build a nuclear power plant today by any one government will not produce results for at least 10 years, so waiting for the GCC to get its act together is not a viable option. Individual states must put their own needs first.

To date, there is nothing to suggest there has been any attempt to co-ordinate nuclear plans across borders. GCC countries appear to have decided they cannot rely on each other for a solution. In effect, the GCC nuclear plan appears doomed.

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