UPDATE 1-UAE's Barakah nuclear plant ready for operation phase -WAM

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DUBAI, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates’ delayed Barakah nuclear power plant is fit to start its operation phase, state news agency WAM reported on Tuesday.

An operational readiness assessment performed by the Atlanta Center of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) concluded that the first of four planned reactors was ready to start up, WAM reported.

Operator Nawah Energy Company is concluding the final requirements before “commencing the loading of the first fuel assemblies safely into Unit 1 of the Barakah plant, scheduled for first quarter of 2020,” WAM said.

Once the fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor, Nawah will raise power generation levels over a number of months before commercial operation begins.

The UAE’s nuclear regulator was in the final stages of issuing a licence for Barakah’s first reactor, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said last month.

Originally due to open in 2017, Barakah is the UAE’s first nuclear plant. The first of four 1,400-megawatt reactors has been completed.

It is being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation . (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Dahlia Nehme; writing by Rania El Gamal and Lisa Barrington; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)