The Wall Street Journal looks in at the nuclear doings on the Arabian Peninsula. We’ve looked at this before, but a lot has happened in a relatively short time:
Dozens of American engineers, lawyers and businessmen have converged on Abu Dhabi in recent months to help the United Arab Emirates get the Arab world's first nuclear-power program running by 2017.
Why so many Americans? The answer may surprise you:
Even as the U.S. remains determined to block Iran from developing nuclear weapons, President Barack Obama sees the U.A.E. program as a "model for the world," according to a senior White House official, and by mid-April could move to present a bilateral nuclear-cooperation treaty to Congress for approval.
This is the so-called 123 agreement negotiated late in the Bush administration (123 refers to the section in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that permits trade in nuclear materials and technologies.) And while there was some doubt Obama would conclude it, it’s full steam ahead.
There are concerns, of course, including U.A.E.’s relations with Iran, especially allowing their ports to be used as way stations for dicey materials. They’ve been working to make that less problematic:
Over the past three years, U.A.E. officials say, they have shut down 40 Iranian companies operating in Dubai over either export-control violations or lack of proper licenses. In the past six months, Emirati authorities have also blocked more then 10 shipments of goods for potential military use heading to Iran through Dubai, largely from Asia.
No one – by which we mean in Congress - seems to worry much about proliferation from U.A.E or that U.A.E. might have bad intentions of its own. If you remember the hullabaloo about allowing an Abu Dhabi company to oversee American ports, this is a remarkable shift in attitude in a short time.
The country is working with International Atomic Energy Agency, is a signatory to the non-proliferation agreements, and has picked up partnerships with the big global players – Russia, France, Great Britain and China.
The United States can contribute technical assistance but needs the 123 agreement to propose building a plant or two there. (Once Obama submits the treaty to Congress, they can vote it down or ignore it. If the latter, it takes 90 days for it to achieve the force of law.)
The U.A.E. is seven states - Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain – although Abu Dhabi, the capital, and Dubai, the major port, are the ones that generate all the news. Six of the seven cluster in the northern quandrant of the country, with Abu Dhabi taking the rest of the land mass. The population is about 4.2 million people.
This is the Burj Al Arab Hotel. We guess it’s a sign of the wealth in U.A.E. that they really go nuts over modern, even edgy architecture and splash out a lot of coin to see interesting buildings realized.
Here’s how its site describes it: “Designed to resemble a billowing sail, Burj Al Arab soars to a height of 321 metres, dominating the Dubai skyline. Illuminated at night by choreographed lighting representing water and fire – Burj Al Arab is simply individual, inspired, impressive.” We’d have to see that night show – could be impressive, could be campy.