In the United Arab Emirates, the nuclear regulator is expected to make a decision within days on whether to grant a licence to build the country’s first nuclear reactors.

If the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) agrees, the UAE will become the first nation to embark on a new civilian nuclear programme in nearly three decades, reports The National newspaper online.

The last nuclear newcomer nation to begin construction on an atomic plant was China in 1985, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations watchdog.

“We’re expecting FANR to make a final decision on this later in the summer,” said Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE permanent representative to the IAEA and a member of the FANR board of management. “It is the most important milestone in the construction process.”

Sources familiar with the process said they expected the decision before the start of Ramadan.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), the lead contractor for the US$20bn (Dh73.46bn) nuclear plant, had originally said it expected a licence to be granted by the end of June and first concrete for the reactor to be poured on July 1.

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