South Korean President Moon Jae-in and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed had a one-hour summit meeting on March 25, promising to work more closely together in the fields of defense and nuclear power generation.
“Although there were some issues regarding the previously signed MOU for cooperation in the defense sector, the bilateral relations of the UAE and South Korea are intact,” the South Korean President remarked, adding, “South Korea will provide support so that the UAE can become a country capable of designing and building its own nuclear power generation plants.”
Until recently, South Korea and the UAE were somewhat uncomfortable with each other. This has to do with the current South Korean government’s attempt to revise the MOU, its zero nuclear power policy and its investigation targeting the previous Lee Myung-bak administration, which signed the MOU with the UAE.
During the previous administration, the bilateral relations between the two countries showed a significant development via the Barakah nuclear power project. At that time, the UAE decided to introduce nuclear power and opted for South Korea as its partner, while even breaking its partnership with France, so that South Korea, which built no nuclear power plant abroad until then, can build four nuclear power plants to be in charge of 25% of the UAE’s total power generation. Then, President Moon Jae-in took office, halting a nuclear power plant construction project in South Korea and saying nuclear power generation is not safe, not cheap and not environment-friendly.
At the meeting, in the meantime, the two leaders redefined the bilateral relations as a special strategic partnership and agreed to form a new vice-ministerial diplomatic and defense council and hold the two countries’ economic council meeting on a regular basis. On March 26, the South Korean President attends the completion ceremony for Barakah Plant Unit 1 and visits the UAE Military Training Cooperation Group Akh Unit.