DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates successfully started up its first reactor, authorities said Saturday.
The Barakah nuclear power plant in the Emirates' far western desert near the border with Saudi Arabia reached what scientists called its “first criticality” on Friday. That's when the nuclear chain reaction within the reactor is self-sustaining.
The nuclear reactor ultimately will generate electricity and be connected to the country's power grid.
The $20 billion Barakah nuclear power plant was built by the Emirates with the help of South Korea. It's the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian Peninsula.
The U.S. has praised the Emirates' nuclear program for agreeing never to acquire enrichment or reprocessing capabilities, which prevents it from being able to make weapons-grade uranium. The U.S. says that's a model agreement for other countries seeking nuclear power while also encouraging the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.