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Obama Approves Nuclear Energy Program for UAE

By Mary Beth Sheridan
The White House said today that President Obama has approved an agreement to help build a nuclear-energy program in the United Arab Emirates, setting up a congressional review of the controversial accord.

The agreement was reached at the end of the administration of President George W. Bush, and left for Obama to shepherd through Congress. The new president's team sees it as a way to prevent Middle Eastern countries from building nuclear weapons under the guise of energy programs.

Under the accord, the UAE agrees not to enrich uranium to run its nuclear plants, or reprocess spent fuel. Those steps could be used to create weapons-grade fuel. In exchange, the UAE can buy fuel and other materials for its nuclear-energy plants from U.S. businesses.

The UAE has also agreed to intensive international inspections to show its nuclear-energy plants aren't cheating. American officials have described the pact as a model for the region, where several countries have announced ambitions to develop nuclear energy.

But a number of lawmakers and non-proliferation experts worry the agreement doesn't have strict enough safeguards. While they don't believe the UAE might try to build a bomb, they do worry about other nations in the area.

In a memo released today by the White House, Obama said he had determined the agreement will "promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security."

The agreement goes to Congress for a 90-day review period. It goes into effect unless both chambers pass resolutions of disapproval.

The accord has been sitting at the White House for weeks as a scandal unfolded over a video smuggled out of the UAE that showed a member of the royal family brutally beating an Afghan businessman with a cattle prod, wooden planks and a cigarette lighter, reportedly over a business feud. The five-year-old tape was shown in the House Human-Rights Commission last week. The royal sheikh was detained this month pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, according to the UAE government.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 20, 2009; 5:57 PM ET
Categories:  National Security  
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President Obama supports good, clean and safe nuclear energy for the UAE, but to reduce our energy dependencey in the USA,
he would have us believe it is bad, dirty and unsafe. The major media will never question him having it both ways.

Posted by: CRH352478 | May 21, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Looks like there would be plenty of power with solar panels. If solar is good enough for Michigan in the winter time looks like it would be good enough for UAE.

Posted by: pryxp1 | May 21, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The agreement was reached at the end of the administration of President George W. Bush, and left for Obama to shepherd through Congress.

Obviously, you guys didn't read the article correctly. President Bush started it. Also, why can't the Middle East use solar and wind power? They are dessert countries, correct?

Posted by: LindainNewOrleans | May 21, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama has signed an agreement to help the UAE build a nuclear energy program. Why if its good for the UAE its not good for America?

Posted by: gerrypooh | May 21, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Okay.. another payback from the Messiah to his supporters in the UAE.

WE are not even doing the same here in the United States.

Another shady deal from the Obama administration to benefit his buddies in the Muslim worlds.

Change we can not believe in..

Posted by: miller51550 | May 20, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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