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The United States signed an agreement Thursday on civil nuclear cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.
Calling the agreement "a powerful and timely model for the world and the region," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the deal, along with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed.
"We applaud the UAE's commission -- commitment to the highest standards of safety, security and nonproliferation in its pursuit of nuclear power," Rice said.
Congress has to ratify the agreement before it can take effect, and congressional critics fear it could spark an arms race and proliferation in the region. The UAE's ties to Iran also have caused concern.
Under the "1-2-3 deal," similar to one the United States signed last year with India, Washington would share nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. In exchange, the UAE commits to abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
The small oil-rich Gulf nation promises not to enrich uranium or to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear bombs.