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[Published: Monday February 17 2020]

 UAE grants licence for Arab first nuclear plant

ABU DHABI 17 Feb (ANA) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued an operating licence for the first reactor at the Arab world's first nuclear power plant, paving the way for it to start production later this year.
The Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, which is being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), was originally due to open in 2017, but the start-up of its first reactor has been delayed several times.
The licence granted to the plant's operator Nawah Energy Company will be for 60 years, Hamad al-Kaabi, deputy chairman of Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) told a news conference on Monday.
Nawah can now start preparing for commercial operations as trials will last for a few months, al-Kaabi said. 
When completed Barakah will have four reactors with a total capacity of 5,600 megawatts.
"Today marks a new chapter in our journey for the development of peaceful nuclear energy with the issuing of the operating license for the first [unit of] Barakah plant," Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wrote on his official Twitter account.
Al-Kaabi said construction of the second reactor was 95 percent finished and that FANR has started looking into an operating license for it.
Christer Viktorsson, director-general of FANR, said the license would allow Nawah to start loading nuclear fuel into the reactor, which would take between two-three weeks.
After that, the operator would need to perform tests and can start initial power production by May or June of this year. Reaching the first reactor's full production capacity would take between eight to 12 months if all the tests went well, he added.
Last month, state news agency WAM reported an operational readiness assessment performed by the Atlanta Center of the World Association of Nuclear Operators concluded the first of the four planned reactors was fit for its start-up phase.
The UAE is the only country that has purchased a KEPCO reactor.
Expressing concern, Qatar's foreign affairs ministry reportedly sent a letter in March to the International Atomic Energy Agency saying a radioactive plume from an accidental discharge could reach its capital, Doha, and a radiation leak could harm the Gulf's water supply.
The UAE insists its nuclear power programme is transparent, safe and only intended for civilian use.
Qatar is currently under an continuing diplomatic, trade and transport blockade by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt over allegations that Doha supports "terrorism" and is too close to Iran. Qatar has rejected such claims.(ANA)
FA/ANA/17 February 2020-------

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