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Jordan: No nuclear cooperation with Israel before end of conflict

Posted by Arab Defense Industry on Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The government on Tuesday said it is not considering any nuclear cooperation with Israel before a solution to the Middle East conflict.

Addressing reports alleging that a Jordanian-Israeli nuclear cooperation project is being considered, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan said in a statement obtained by The Jordan Times that the reports are “old”, dating back to last year when Israeli energy minister made a verbal proposal on possible nuclear energy cooperation to his French counterpart.

In the JAEC statement, he stressed that the commission had no prior knowledge of such proposals and “has nothing to do with them”.

On the sidelines of the International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy in Paris yesterday, Toukan said it is “too early to speak of regional cooperation with Israel before resolving the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict”, according to the statement.

The JAEC chairman said the Kingdom’s nuclear cooperation policy is limited to countries that are signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT), underlining that Jordan’s nuclear programme is implemented by Jordanians and is fully supported by the government without the interference of any external body.

Israel is a not a signatory to the 187-country NNPT, which limits the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and promotes cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Also yesterday, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Nabil Sharif echoed Toukan’s comments, stating that it is “premature to discuss any cooperation between Jordan and Israel before solving the Palestinian issue”.

Addressing reporters following the Cabinet’s weekly meeting, he also dismissed reports that Jordan is selling uranium to Israel.

“These reports are absolutely false,” Sharif told reporters.

The Kingdom, which is home to over 140,000 tonnes of uranium, has yet to establish a uranium mine.

During the international conference in Paris yesterday, Israel unveiled plans to work with Arab countries to build a nuclear power plant in a project aimed at meeting the region’s energy needs and promoting peace, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Israel has prepared a site for the nuclear reactor in the northern part of the Negev desert, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said during the conference.

“Nuclear energy can be an area of regional cooperation with the objective of promoting peace,” Landau told the conference, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, during a dialogue held as part of the conference, Toukan urged international nuclear powers to provide assistance to nations pursuing peaceful nuclear programmes, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

He stressed that infrastructure, technology and funding are major challenges facing states aspiring to launch civilian nuclear projects, Petra added.

Electricity load, waste management, nuclear fuel and human resources are other challenges which require a regional and international approach to provide a comprehensive regulatory platform, he said, according to Petra.

In the conference’s opening session on Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the International Institute of Nuclear Energy. The France-based institute would become the heart of an international network of institutes, starting with the first centre in Jordan. The centre, which was highlighted by French Prime Minister Francois Fillion in a visit to the Kingdom last month, will group various technical and educational programmes related to nuclear engineering and safety, according to the JAEC.

Jordan’s peaceful nuclear energy programme aims to end reliance on energy imports, which cost the Kingdom around 14 per cent of GDP last year.

Nuclear energy is expected to provide up to 30 per cent of Jordan’s electricity by 2025 and help the country achieve energy independence.

The country’s first nuclear power plant, a 1,000-megawatt Generation III reactor, is expected to be built in a location in Aqaba, inland and west of the port city, within the next decade.

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