Jordan close to US nuclear deal

Jordan close to US nuclear dealJordan moves a step closer to nuclear power

Jordan has said that it expects to reach a compromise with Washington on its nuclear power plants by the end of 2010, paving the way for the award of a reactor construction contract several months later, reports The National.

The country plans to become the second Arab state after the UAE to harness civilian nuclear power. But crucial to that goal, say analysts, is US approval which is considered crucial for securing key technology – and international approval.

Jordan's reluctance to give up its right to enrich large uranium reserves that were found in 2007 has stalled the agreement.

But Kamal Khdier, from the Jordanian atomic energy commission, has said a compromise is now possible.

“Both the US and Jordan are looking to be in a more compromising situation regarding this issue,” he said recently. “We are not in a situation that we have to enrich uranium … it’s not going to happen for 20 years.”

But he added that Jordan would not give up its right to enrich uranium, saying that the technology might change.

The UAE sealed its deal with the US by promising never to enrich uranium on its soil, as it sought to assure the world that it had no plans to build an atomic weapon.

Jordan has already reached co-operation agreements with countries that have expertise in the nuclear sector including the UK, France, China and Russia.

But it needs a deal with the US to ensure it has access to essential equipment.

“Although [US companies] are not bidding for the nuclear power plant, there is still a lot of equipment and materials that can be exported from the United States,” said Khdier.

The Jordanian atomic energy commission is evaluating three bids from foreign companies to build and operate the country’s first nuclear power station by the end of the decade. The contenders include Atomic Energy of Canada, Russia’s Atomstroyexport and a joint bid by Areva of France and Mitsubishi of Japan.

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