The UAE raised quite a few eyebrows last December when it announced a $40 billion contract for setting up four nuclear power stations in its territory. But what surprised analysts even more than the size of the contract was who won it: a South Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO), with Toshiba Westinghouse as a minor partner. KEPCO managed to beat out heavyweight rivals, including a consortium led by French major Areva and the U.S.-Japanese alliance of GE-Hitachi, to walk away with the deal.
Pundits have talked quite a bit of late about the shift from West to East. But the UAE nuclear sweepstakes demonstrates just how pronounced that shift really is, especially in the wake of the financial crisis: A Middle Eastern country new to nuclear power sought to secure its nuclear future in an alliance with an Asian nation other than Japan. In addition to being representative of the kind of economic interactions that will increasingly drive the shift Eastward, the deal also foreshadows the coming of a new nuclear age.
The New Nuclear Age