President Obama should continue support for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Former President George W. Bush signed a treaty during his last week in office that would allow American firms to engage in nuclear trade with the U.A.E. Under the terms of the treaty, U.A.E. will buy approved nuclear fuel on the international market, rather than enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium. It will also open its facilities to random international inspections.
General Electric Company and Westinghouse Electric Co. are among the U.S. firms interested in the initial $20 billion in reactor work. U.A.E. has already signed a nuclear-cooperation agreement with France, and has tentative deals with Japan and Britain. Companies such as France's Areva SA and Korea Electric Power Company are preparing to make bids for contracts that could ultimately top $40 billion.
Projections indicate that U.A.E's electricity demand will reach 40,000 megawatts by 2020 from around 16,000 megawatts today. Nonnuclear options, such as coal-fired plants, solar energy or alternative fuels, were seen either as insufficient to meet demand, too expensive or harmful to the environment. U.A.E. officials believe nuclear power is the most practical and clean alternative. (WSJ, 4/2/09)
Global Map of Nuclear Plants