In December 2009, the United Arab Emirates and the United States entered into a bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear energy cooperation. This “123 Agreement”, named after Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, established the required legal framework for commerce in civilian nuclear energy technology between the U.S. and the U.A.E. Government leaders and nonproliferation experts have lauded this agreement as the “gold standard” for its commitment to safety, security, and operational transparency.
Within the policy framework of the agreement, the U.A.E. renounced uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, affirming the peaceful nature of the U.A.E.’s civilian nuclear energy program. The U.A.E. also committed to all major international nonproliferation instruments, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement, which the U.A.E. and IAEA signed in April 2009.
Ahead of the agreement’s ratification, the Business Council played a critical role in building support in the U.S. The Council shared its views in letters to key Congressional leaders and generated awareness of the agreement in the U.S. business community. Key business leaders subsequently mobilized to garner support in Congress. In addition, the Council published a landmark report highlighting the benefits of this agreement for U.S. industry and workers throughout the United States.
As a result of this agreement, U.S. businesses, including Bechtel and Westinghouse, have supported the U.A.E. in realizing its peaceful nuclear energy ambitions. As the U.A.E.’s civilian nuclear program enters its operational phase, U.S. businesses will continue to be active participants in developing this safe and secure source of alternative energy in the U.A.E.
The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council stands ready to help. In January 2020, the Business Council and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) hosted a luncheon in Washington, D.C. in honor of a visiting delegation from Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) led by its CEO, Mohamed Al Hammadi. This luncheon commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the 123 Agreement and the imminent operationalization of the first reactor. A more detailed special industry briefing followed the luncheon discussion and provided the nuclear energy supplier industry with specific details about future opportunities for U.S. businesses in the next stages of the U.A.E. Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program.