Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The Arab world's first nuclear power plant received official approval Monday from regulators in the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said it granted an operating license for the first of four planned reactors at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. It's the region's first peaceful nuclear energy program.
Hamad al-Kaabi, the UAE representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, called the decision to grant a 60-year operating license to the Nawah Energy Co. a "historical moment."
"[Nawah] will undertake a period of commissioning to prepare for the commercial operation during which FANR will have around the clock inspection, using its resident inspectors at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant and deploying other inspectors," al-Kaabi said.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed also praised the approval, which completed a 12-year effort by Nawah to build and license the reactor. He tweeted that Monday's occasion "marks a new chapter in our journey for the development of peaceful nuclear energy."
"As we prepare for the next 50 years to safeguard our needs, our biggest strength is national talent," he added.
The four reactors will have a total capacity of 5,600 megawatts -- enough to provide about a quarter of UAE energy needs.
Al-Kaabi said the plant's second unit is 95 percent completed, the third is 92 percent done and the fourth 83 percent.