The Summit was moderated by Claude Salhani, Political Analyst at the Washington Times, who commented:
"When used for peaceful purposes and safely harvested, nuclear energy can be the answer to an expanding and insatiable appetite in world demand for more energy. Just think in terms of your own use - or over-use of energy and how it has changed since you were young. Think of all the additional outlets we need today, from computers to printers, to chargers, and so on. Now multiply that by billions and throw in the demands of growing cities and you begin to get an idea."
Dr Mahmoud Nasreddine, Advisor to the Secretary General at the League of Arab States on behalf of HE Amre Moussa, Secretary General, League of Arab States explained that to reach a clear position regarding the possible use of nuclear energy as a source of electricity, discussions have started within the Arab Atomic Energy Agency bodies, within the League of Arab States secretariat, the Council of Arab Ministers of Energy and the member states themselves.
Many Arab countries have contacted the IAEA for advice and assistance. Some of them have signed memoranda of understanding with nuclear countries and taken their first step toward the building of their first nuclear power plants. For instance, the United Arab Emirates has created two independent bodies: the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
Dr Mahmoud Nasreddine commented: "The Arab countries have placed the diversification of energy sources high on their list of priorities. In achieving this objective, they have expressed their clear commitment to the promotion of the peaceful uses and applications of nuclear energy in a transparent manner that fully respects their international obligations. At the same time, the Arab countries will continue to be committed to building a Middle East free from all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons."
"The League of Arab States looks forward to an international initiative to ensure the continuous provision of nuclear fuel for countries that are building reactors for the generation of electricity. The different proposals which are under discussions at international level are welcomed."
Abdelmajid Mahjoub, Director General of Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA) also mentioned that the Council of the League of Arab States issued two important resolutions for the development of a strategy of peaceful use of atomic energy and establishment of a cooperative Arab Nuclear Power Program. He explained the steps that have to be taken to efficiently launch that program, including:
• Completing comprehensive energy planning and feasibility studies,
• Introducing nuclear power into the national energy strategies,
• Building the infrastructure of Nuclear Power Plant (NPP),
• Studying the possibilities of building NPPs as multilateral projects between Arab countries utilizing the existing and planned interconnection grids and the human resources accumulated during the last decades,
• Coordination by the AAEA between Arab states to exchange experiences and assist them in building their nuclear program infrastructure.
Ali Boussaha, Chairman of Nuclear Power Support Group and Director of IAEA Technical Cooperation Department focused on the prospects and challenges of the nuclear Renaissance in Arab countries. He highlighted that the development and increased use of nuclear power would help Arab Countries to meet the rapid increase in energy demand, diversify energy sources and enhance the security of energy supply as well as mitigate carbon emissions.
Boussaha then explained that the prospects for growth and expansion of nuclear power in the Arab Countries are dependent upon meeting several challenges, including: the establishment of acceptable infrastructure in the countries introducing NP, the development and retention of the necessary workforce competences, the appropriate strategies for management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, the necessity of building international and mutual confidence in the development of nuclear energy and the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear security.
Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Former Secretary General of OPEC, urged that now is the time to start a Nuclear Power Program, given the very long lead timeframe required to build and implement a safe, secure nuclear power program so countries can produce their first nuclear electricity around 2020. Dr Shihab-Eldin also pointed out that "a regional program approach to introduce nuclear power program as suggested by decision of GCC Summit (2006) is logical and warrants serious consideration, given similar economic, social, political characteristics, and success of several regional programs".
Benefits of a regional program are the following:
• Shared infrastructure: capacity development (HR) and some key facilities (waste repository, training and research reactors)
• Harmonization of legislation, regulations and positions on multilateral agreements
However, we have to take into consideration that any regional NP program would have its key physical components (NPP) constructed and operated in one or more GCC countries, subject to national nuclear legislation, and regulation of its national authorities.
Introducing the opportunities and challenges in building trust and confidence for emerging nuclear power states, Vincent Nkong-Njock, Senior Nuclear Power Specialist at IAEA, explained:"The most critical and main challenging issues while building a nuclear power program are for the State to build the necessary public trust and international confidence on the NP program."
"Building trust and confidence requires a careful planning and preparation, openness, transparency and honesty through establishing good NP infrastructures coordination and evaluation mechanisms, owning the IAEA Milestone "Stepwise" approach, and developing appropriate partnership and cooperation at the regional and international levels."
The Summit also featured Bertrand Barre, Immediate Past-Chairman of the International Nuclear Energy Academy; Peter Wakefield, Deputy Director of the World Association of Nuclear Operators; and William Borchardt, Executive Director for Operations of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"This first edition was an 'ice-breaker' in the industry where major players managed to lay down the foundations of the nuclear program in the GCC region. The second edition in October will bring together international as well as regional decision makers to discuss public-private partnerships, define political alliances and contribute to implementing the nuclear power program in the region," concluded Fabien Faure, Group Managing Director, naseba.