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GCC 'needs neighbours' help in N-power plan'

Manama, March 28, 2010

GCC countries need their neighbours to help them develop safe, secure and advanced nuclear energy programmes, a senior official said.

Gulf Council for Foreign Relations chairman Dr Mansoor Al Arayedh said the GCC alone could not provide solutions for nuclear energy, safety and security.

'We cannot do it alone, we need a Gulf dimension, i.e., GCC and its neighbours. This can be achieved, contrary to many voices, without dilution of the national or GCC identity with its normal day-to-day business of diversity and differences.'

He said there needed to be a step-by-step approach to lay the foundation for trust as the basis for co-operation.

GCC countries needed to be in direct discussion with Iran and Iraq and other neighbouring countries to allow the 'Gulf dimension' to meet the challenges of responsibility and trust and form some kind of solidarity in finding solutions to nuclear challenges, he said.

'We need to understand how nuclear programmes are being developed at the national level and co-ordinated at the GCC level in terms of safety, transparency, legal, added value, resources, policy and other important issues.'

He called for an inspiring Muslim peace project for the 21st century, where nuclear energy can be one of its core components, working together as a European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom)-like corporation.

Dr Al Arayedh said it would envisage a Gulfatom treaty to be a cornerstone of the peace project. 'I see the need and would suggest the setting up of a science and technology working group to address the challenges of nuclear energy, in particular safety, transparency and verification, and to grant access to neighbouring countries within the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguard frameworks.

'In my view if the GCC seeks a leading role in nuclear security in the Gulf then the Gulf dimension is the practical way forward towards peace and stability. This requires a paradigm shift in both practice and mind. This shift is needed at the Gulf dimension and has at its pre-request that freely the GCC countries and their neighbours come together to build trust and understanding. And would suggest as a first step to start with safety and transparency of nuclear projects.'

Dr Al Arayedh made the comments during the opening of the conference.

Arab Atomic Energy Agency director Daw Saad Mosbah said an Arab strategy for the peaceful use of atomic energy up to 2020 had been approved at the Arab summit in Doha last year. He said Arab countries needed to strengthen their legislation and regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation activities. Arab countries also needed to strengthen their national capabilities of nuclear waste management and education, along with a need for national infrastructure and capacity building, he added.

Sharjah University applied physics department chairman Dr Hussein Elmehdi spoke about public response and awareness of nuclear technology for peaceful application in GCC countries.

A survey of 700 people to assess awareness and attitude towards nuclear energy, found there was a need for rigorous outreach programmes to educate the public about the advantages of nuclear power stations, their diverse peaceful applications as well as environmental and economic benefits.

Bahrain University applied physics professor Dr Waheeb Alnaser and Egypt-based Sohag University Professor Mahmoud Abdel Aty presented a mathematical model to describe the risk from nuclear power plants in the GCC due to natural disaster or human or technical error and called for GCC countries wishing to have research reactors to take part in developing safety research. -TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Gulf | GCC | Nuclear | power project |

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