U.S.-UAE Nuclear Procurement Pact: A Framework for Progress

By December 17, 2009Energy, Trade

Today I was one of just a handful of business community reps invited to attend the formal exchange of instruments of ratification ceremony at the U.S. State Department where the “123” Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation between the U.S. and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Governments. This 123 Agreement is a prerequisite for U.S. companies to be able under U.S. law to supply nuclear equipment, services, or technology to a foreign partner nation. And the UAE is huge potential market and a stalwart partner. For once, our government is to be commended for moving quickly and effectively to conclude an agreement that is in concrete terms good for the American economy, for the global environment, and for long-standing U.S. nuclear non-proliferations policies. And there are indeed huge business opportunities in the nuclear energy sector in the UAE- starting with a $ 40 billion project currently in the final stages for procurement award. With more to come. This landmark deal will provide a framework for American companies, large and small, to compete to supply goods and services to the UAE in its ambitious nuclear power development. This agreement will also ensure the highest standards of non-proliferation, safety and security for the UAE project.

The NAM and our member companies have been strong supporters of this pact from the start and helped promote its negotiation and approval by Congress. NAM President John Engler has been speaking out forcefully, both publicly and in key private meetings, over the past year leading the business community efforts to push this 123 Agreement through to what we saw achieved today. A more robust nuclear power industry would help our country meet its clean energy goals while creating thousands of high-paying jobs here at home. There is every reason to be optimistic that full entry into force today will translate into U.S. companies winning important export contracts and creating great new manufacturing jobs here at home. This is, indeed, a very good day for U.S. business and for the NAM. Highly-qualified companies and skilled workers will now be able to be able to compete on a level playing field and win business in the UAE. I also hope that experience and success in places like the UAE will help reinvigorate our own nuclear power industry and workforce.

Personally as a longtime State Department Foreign Service Officer myself, it was great to see the U.S. Government and especially the State Department move so quickly and effectively to get this challenging negotiation done, a strong agreement signed and approved by the U.S. Congress and then so quickly moved across the finish line today to full legal implementation. This US/UAE 123 Agreement is also a very commendable example of bipartisanship as the negotiations were launched by President Bush and Secretary Rice, singed by Secretary Rice just before they left office, then strengthened and moved through to Congressional approval (with strong bipartisan, bicameral support) and entry-into-force under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Rice.

We at the NAM, from Governor Engler on down, are certainly proud to have played a role in helping support this very important agreement though this long, sometimes challenging process to get where we are today. I was proud to represent the NAM at today’s ceremony and to both congratulate and personally thank Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher and UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba for their leadership.

Shaun Donnelly is Senior Policy Director, International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.

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