Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 21, 2009

On May 21, 2009, President Obama submitted to Congress an Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (a so-called ‘123 Agreement' after the relevant section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act). This important Agreement reinforces a particularly strong and mutually beneficial political, security, and economic relationship. The UAE is a valued partner on many issues, showing close cooperation with us on support for the Palestinian Authority, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where they have deployed combat troops.

This Agreement marks an important achievement for the United States and the UAE in establishing a foundation for the responsible development of peaceful nuclear energy under strong nonproliferation controls. The UAE's commitment not to engage in enrichment and reprocessing activities within its territory is reflected in the Agreement as a legally binding obligation on the part of the UAE. The Agreement serves as a model for states in the region in developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes with the full confidence of the international community. This approach stands in direct contrast to Iran's nuclear program, which remains a matter of grave concern to the international community.

Once the Agreement enters into force, it will establish the necessary legal framework for the United States and the UAE to cooperate in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to assist the UAE in meeting its growing energy demands.

Nuclear Development in the Middle East

This Agreement is a tangible expression of the United States' desire to cooperate with states in the Middle East and around the world that want to develop nuclear power peacefully, and in a manner consistent with the highest nonproliferation, safety and security standards. The Agreement not only establishes a firm foundation for mutually beneficial cooperation in nuclear energy, but will also serve as a model for responsible nuclear energy development .

In signing this Agreement, the UAE has demonstrated its commitment to develop civil nuclear energy responsibly, in full conformity with its nonproliferation commitments and obligations. Among those is the UAE's commitment not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) within its territory, representing a marked contrast to Iran which has failed to comply with its international obligations.

The UAE recognizes the value of international cooperation for establishing a nuclear power program as well as the need to develop domestic human resources. It has stated that it expects to hire a foreign consortium to construct, operate and partially own its first nuclear power plants while local expertise is developed.

U.S. industry is poised to assist with the development of a nuclear power program in the UAE, and the Agreement for Cooperation facilitates our involvement. U.S. technology in this area is leading-edge, and the United States anticipates receiving strong consideration as the UAE moves forward in implementing its plans.

A Strategic Partnership

  • The United States and the UAE entered into the Agreement with the understanding that the UAE is committed to relying on existing international markets for nuclear fuel services as an alternative to pursuing uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel reprocessing on the territory of the UAE, a commitment reflected in the Agreement.

  • The UAE contributed $10 million to an International Atomic Energy Agency administered nuclear fuel bank in support of reliable fuel supply.

  • The UAE acceded to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) on September 26, 1995 and its IAEA Safeguards Agreement entered into force on October 9, 2003. On April 9, it signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement.

  • The UAE ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material on November 15, 2003 and has committed to concluding the 2005 Amendment strengthening the Convention.

  • The UAE acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism on January 10, 2008.

  • The UAE acceded to the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency on October 2, 1987.

  • The UAE continues to work to implement UNSC 1540 – a resolution that, among other things, requires UN Member States to adopt and enforce effective laws prohibiting non-State actors from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, transferring or using weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, in particular for terrorist purposes.

  • The UAE actively participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative.

  • The UAE participates in the Container Security Initiative.

  • The UAE is a key counterterrorism partner and actively combats money laundering and terrorist financing.

  • The UAE enacted an export control law in 2007, under which the UAE has established a legal regime for control of exports and imports of sensitive goods including nuclear- related commodities, software, and technology.

  • Through a bilateral counterproliferation task force, we work together closely and productively on a full range of counterproliferation issues.

Key Features of the Agreement

  • This Agreement includes all the requirements of Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act governing agreements for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the United States and non-nuclear-weapon states such as the UAE.

  • The Agreement has a term of 30 years, and permits the transfer of material, equipment (including reactors), and components for peaceful nuclear research and nuclear power production, and generally facilitates the transfer of related technology.

  • The Agreement has a term of 30 years, and permits the transfer of material, equipment (including reactors), and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production, and generally facilitates the transfer of related technology.

  • The Agreement does not permit transfers of highly enriched uranium or plutonium (except for small quantities for analytical or experimental use), Restricted Data, sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities (such as facilities for enrichment or reprocessing), or major critical components of such facilities.

  • In light of the importance to the United States of the UAE's commitment not to engage in enrichment or reprocessing within its borders, the Agreement includes a legally binding obligation that the UAE will not possess such facilities or engage in such activities within its territory. Were it to do so, such action would be grounds for the United States to terminate the Agreement.

  • The Agreement provides advance, long-term approval by the United States to the UAE for the retransfer of spent nuclear fuel. The spent nuclear fuel subject to the Agreement may be retransferred to France and the United Kingdom, if consistent with their respective policies, laws and regulations, for storage or reprocessing subject to specified conditions.

  • This U.S. approval does not include approval for the return to the UAE of plutonium or other special fissionable material recovered from the spent fuel by such reprocessing.

  • The arrangement approving retransfers of spent fuel from the UAE to France and the United Kingdom assists with ensuring that spent fuel is not stored permanently in the Middle East .

PRN: 2009/491