The United Arab Emirates started up its first nuclear power plant, the AP reported on Saturday.

According to the report, the $20 billion Barakah nuclear power plant achieved its “first criticality” on Friday, meaning that the nuclear reaction within the reactor is self-sustaining.

The construction of the power plant, aimed at generating electricity, was aided by South Korea. It is the first nuclear power plant in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has praised the UAE for committing never to make weapons-grade uranium, and for serving as a model for other countries seeking nuclear energy, the report stated.

Saudi Arabia is also building a nuclear reactor, Reuters reported in September 2019. According to the report, Riyadh is seeking U.S. cooperation, but Washington will only agree if Riyadh consents to intrusive snap inspections by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are rivals of Iran, which has its own advanced nuclear program.

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