Cablegate: C-Ne7-00483: Bahrain and the Gcc,S Nuclear Energy
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0982/01 3021221
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291221Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7354
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1357
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUCFAAN/FEMA HQ WASH DC PRIORITY
RUEADOE/USDOE WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000982
AMMAN FOR ESTH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2017
TAGS: ENRG TRGY OSCI PINR BA
SUBJECT: C-NE7-00483: BAHRAIN AND THE GCC,S NUCLEAR ENERGY
REF: A. MANAMA 677
B. MANAMA 666
Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli, reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
1.(SBU) Summary: In an address to parliament, King Hamad praised Bahrain's joining the IAEA and said Bahrain aimed to help limit WMD proliferation and reap the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy. In addition to seeking support from the IAEA, Bahrain has sought advice and technical assistance from the U.S., France, and Germany. Bahrain's efforts are part of a GCC program to establish a Gulf nuclear energy network. Bahrain's power consumption is expected to double by 2014 and it faces a dwindling supply of natural gas. End summary. ------------------------- GCC NUCLEAR POWER PROGRAM -------------------------
2.(U) In an October 17 address opening the latest session of parliament, the King hailed Bahrain's "entry into the nuclear age." Noting Bahrain's September 21 induction into the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the King remarked, "The aim of our membership is to contribute to limiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region and to enable our people to benefit from the civilian use of nuclear energy in the areas of health, electricity, education, and agriculture." He said this gives Bahrain the opportunity to join the international community and approach, in a transparent manner and alongside its GCC brethren, the peaceful use of nuclear energy (Ref. A). (Note: A December 2006 GCC Supreme Council resolution announced the intention of the Gulf states to pursue a joint study of peaceful nuclear technology. End Note.)
3.(SBU) Ministry of Health Radiation Protection Consultant Jaffar Mattar told Econoff October 23 that he had attended an October 20-21 conference in Riyadh during which a GCC committee had reviewed the Gulf nuclear plan with IAEA representatives. The IAEA is expected to submit its initial feasibility assessment to the committee in coming days. The assessment will outline the regulatory framework and safety measures that would be required to support a GCC nuclear program. While no country had yet agreed to host a nuclear reactor, Mattar believed Saudi Arabia or Qatar were the most likely candidates. He thought it unlikely that a reactor would be built in Bahrain. ------------------------------------- BAHRAIN SEEKING EXPERTISE, ASSISTANCE -------------------------------------
4.(SBU) For at least the past year, Bahrain's Ambassador to Washington, Nasser Al-Belooshi, has explored the prospects of U.S. nuclear technology assistance. In October 2006, he met in Washington with representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy's Global Nuclear Partnership (GNEP). (Note: GNEP is a component of the President's Advanced Energy Initiative and encourages governments with advanced, secure nuclear capabilities to provide fresh fuel and recovery of used fuel to governments that agree to use nuclear energy for power generation purposes only. End Note.)
5.(SBU) Since consulting with GNEP, Al-Belooshi has continued his efforts. In November 2006, he led a Bahraini delegation on an alternative energy investment fact-finding mission to Colorado and Montana. More recently, he led a delegation on a Westinghouse-hosted tour of Pennsylvania's Limerick nuclear power plant last month.
6.(SBU) Mattar told Econoff October 23 that he hoped for Embassy sponsorship of a regional medical seminar on radiation set to take place in Manama November 18. He said the U.S., the GCC, Pakistan and Iran would be among the countries sending medical physicists to attend. Mattar also said the Ministry remains keenly interested in receiving assistance from the USG in acquiring expertise in medical treatments for individuals exposed to harmful doses of radiation (Ref. A).
7. (U) Bahrain's requests for assistance are not limited to the U.S. Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Mansoor Bin Rajab told local Gulf Daily News October 22 that his ministry MANAMA 00000982 002 OF 002 had just completed a six-month study of the applied uses of nuclear technology in France and Germany. He said Bahrain might benefit from applying radiation to protect crops from pests and breed disease-resistant livestock. He noted that Pakistan had used nuclear technology to develop new crop varieties. --------------------------- MEETING FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS ---------------------------
8.(U) Arabic local daily Al Ayam October 20 quoted Ministry of Electricity and Water Assistant Undersecretary for Planning and Studies Dr. Khalid Bu Rashid as stating that nuclear energy was a potential remedy for Bahrain's growing energy demands (Ref. B). The Ministry of Electricity and Water expects Bahrain's energy consumption to double by 2014, but acknowledges that it would take 12 to 15 years to bring a GCC nuclear reactor on line.
9.(C) Comment: A certain portion of the King's October 17 remarks on nuclear energy were meant to buck up Bahrainis with the boast that the Gulf Arabs could, if necessary, keep up with others in the region on nuclear technology. But the Bahraini leadersip also views civilian nuclear technology as a potential solution to Bahrain's all-too-real energyproblems. Bigger Gulf brothers will need to take he first steps, and foot most of the bill, but Bhrain is ready when they are. ********************************************* ******* Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: http://www.statesgov.gov/p/nea/manama/ ********************************************* ******* ERELI