The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is holding its annual congress in Vienna this week. The Austrian capital hosts the event of an organisation whose global relevance is key, among other issues, because of its influence on the negotiations for the resumption of the nuclear agreement. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the pact signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1, a group of six world powers led by the United States, limited the Persian nuclear programme until 2018.
The United Arab Emirates did not want to miss the meeting. A delegation led by the Emirati representative to the IAEA, Ambassador Hamad al-Kaabi, and made up of members of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Authority and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation travelled to Vienna to participate in a conference to approve the organisation's programme and budget for the coming year.
The meeting also serves to jointly decide on the issues presented by the board of governors, the director general of the institution, Rafael Grossi, and the 173 member states. The meeting, which is held every September, aims to promote the "safe and peaceful" use of nuclear technologies with its partners. Abu Dhabi has shown itself to be committed to this activity.
Al-Kaabi himself opened the session with a speech in which he highlighted the strong relationship between the agency and the United Arab Emirates, built on a decade of collaboration. The IAEA has closely monitored the UAE's nuclear programme to ensure its proper development and prevent potential security threats to the region. The ambassador acknowledged and thanked the IAEA for this vigilance during his speech.
The conference is a perfect international showcase. The Emirati delegation will take advantage of the event to hold a series of meetings with other members of the organisation and negotiate agreements on energy cooperation. Another attraction of the event is the exchange of expertise and views on regulatory policies and business strategies. In addition to the congress, the Emirates will participate in the Regulatory Cooperation Forum.
The first unit of the UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant began commercial operations in April, and the second unit in August after receiving the green light from the IAEA. The agency's historic approval, granted after extensive monitoring, made the UAE the first Arab country to produce nuclear power. The plant will provide about 25% of the country's electricity when fully operational.
To date, Barakah's construction rate is close to 96%. The complex has four nuclear reactors of which the third and fourth are more than 95% complete. On completion, the nuclear plant will generate 5,600 megawatts of carbon-free electricity and in turn support the Emirates' economic diversification plan, while creating thousands of jobs.
Located in the Al Dhafra region, 280 km from the centre of Abu Dhabi, and operated by the Nawah Energy Company, the plant has the capacity to power more than half a million homes for a full year, and will have a positive environmental impact. The FANR, the Emirati regulatory body, is responsible for regulating the design, siting, construction, operation and decommissioning of the plant.