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Thursday, July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020
image: aljazeera

Nearly a decade on from Fukushima and 35 years after Chernobyl, nuclear power no longer dominates global discussions - in part because many countries are moving away from it, decommissioning reactors, or scrapping or scaling back nuclear energy projects in favour of cheaper, safer renewable energy solutions like wind and solar.

But as much of the world looks for ways to move on from 20th-century fission energy and embrace sustainable, more fiscally responsible 21st-century options, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is going nuclear.

In March, the UAE finished loading fuel rods into one of four brand-new nuclear reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station - the first on the Arabian Peninsula.

Years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, Barakah - Arabic for "divine blessing" - has been hampered by construction problems that were not disclosed in a timely fashion, and a lack of properly trained staff to run the plant.

The UAE is adamant; its intentions are peaceful. It has agreed not to enrich its own uranium or reprocess spent fuel and has signed up to the IAEA's Additional Protocol, significantly enhancing the agency's inspection capabilities.

Still, nuclear energy specialists are sounding the alarm over the potential fallout the UAE reactors could visit upon the Gulf, an ecologically fragile and geopolitically volatile patch of planet Earth.

In this explainer, Al Jazeera's managing business editor Patricia Sagba breaks down how the first nuclear power plant in the UAE could threaten an already volatile region.

This video was edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed's Katya Bohdan.


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