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Qatar seeks IAEA intervention over UAE nuclear plant

The gas-rich state penned a letter to the IAEA [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 March, 2019

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Qatar has called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to intervene in a dispute over a $24 billion nuclear power plant which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is building.
Qatar requested intervention from the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] to suspend the building of a nuclear power plant by neighbouring UAE, citing concerns over the environment and regional stability.

The gas-rich state penned a letter to the IAEA stating the risks posted by the $24 billion Barakah plant, which include a radioactive plume reaching its capital city Doha within five to 13 hours.

The letter, which was seen by Reuters, also cited concerns over possible effects of a radiation leak on Qatar's water supply.

"Qatar believes that the lack of any international co-operation with neighbouring states regarding disaster planning, health and safety and the protection of the environment pose a serious threat to the stability of the region and its environment," the letter from Qatar's Foreign Affairs ministry to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said, according to Reuters.

The letter also highlighted that the technology used in the powerplant by the UAE was relatively untested, adding that South Korea was the only country operating a commercial reactor of this type.

The UAE maintains that its nuclear energy program adheres to the IAEA standards.

"The United Arab Emirates ... adheres to its commitment to the highest standards of nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation," Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the IAEA, said in a statement to Reuters.

Barakah, the world's largest nuclear plant under construction, is expected to start operations between the end of 2019 and early 2020, according to the UAE's Nawah Energy Company.

Earlier this month, the plant's owner Emirates Energy Corporation [ENEC] said it detected voids in the concrete of reactors 2 and 3, but claimed that these did not pose safety risks.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Doha in 2017 over allegations of support for Islamist extremists and Saudi-arch enemy Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations and says its rivals actually want regime change in Doha.

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