UAE imports M-SAM2 on Moon's visit

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UAE imports M-SAM2 on Moon’s visit
President Moon Jae-in talks with UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the Dubai Expo Leadership Hall on Sunday. (Yonhap). 

President Moon Jae-in, who is visiting the United Arab Emirates, met with Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the Dubai Expo on Sunday and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in defense, nuclear power plants and Korea’s plan to host the 2030 Busan Expo.

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During the meeting, the UAE decided to import the Korean interceptor missile Cheongung II, or M-SAM2, becoming the first country to operate the missile other than Korea.

The UAE Ministry of Defence announced a plan to import M-SAM2 in November last year, but the purchase contract was finalized after the meeting between the top leaders of the two countries.

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The contract is worth 4 trillion won ($3.3 billion), the largest export in the history of Korea’s defense industry.

The mid-range anti-aircraft missile was developed by the state-run Agency for Defense Development and two private firms, LIG Nex1 and Hanwha System, to replace the old mid-range surface-to-air missile Hawk. M-SAM2, which was judged to be suitable for combat in June 2017, was first supplied to the Korean military in early November 2020.

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The two governments also signed a memorandum of understanding for mid-to-long-term cooperation in defense technology and industry. They agreed to cooperate in joint research and development of weapons systems and joint purchase and production of weapons systems developed.

There were also conversations about the nuclear power plant industry.

President Moon said, “The two countries are achieving a lot of cooperation in various fields, including the Barakah nuclear power plant.” Prime Minister Al Maktoum replied that he admires the performance whenever he works with Korean companies, showing satisfaction with the Barakah nuclear power plant.

The Barakah nuclear power plant, built in the UAE, is the first nuclear power plant built overseas by Korea and is considered a symbol of Korea’s nuclear power plant export business. A Cheong Wa Dae official said there is no other specific mention related to nuclear power plants.

South Korea’s plan to host the 2030 Busan Expo was also on the agenda at the meeting.

President Moon asked Prime Minister Al Maktoum for attention and support to attract the World Expo to Busan, noting that Busan is a sisterhood city in Dubai and a gateway city where the Eurasian continent and the Pacific meet.

Busan is currently competing with Moscow, Russia, to host the event. Prime Minister made no special comments on them, a Cheong Wa Dae official said. In October last year, the UAE said it supported the hosting of the 2030 World Expo in Saudi Arabia.

During the talks, the two leaders also discussed cooperation in the hydrogen sector, space sector, desert agriculture and seawater desalination.

Prior to the visit, the presidential office announced that President Moon would attend the event hosted by Prince Mohamed bin Zayed and discuss ways to cooperate between the two countries at the summit. But on Monday, the summit was canceled due to circumstances by Prince Mohamed bin Zayed.

Cheong Wa Dae said, “We planned a summit meeting on Dec. 17 at the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but the crown prince was unable to attend due to unavoidable circumstances.”

The official said that one of the reasons the UAE has delivered is the “unforeseen and current matter of state.” When reporters asked if the summit’s cancellation was related to the COVID-19 situation, the official replied the UAE did not accurately reveal it.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)

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