Israeli government sources on Wednesday dismissed allegations by Jordan’s King
Abdullah II that Israel interfered with Amman’s civilian nuclear program, saying
they did not know why the program was not progressing, “but it certainly has
nothing to do with imaginary Israeli opposition.”
Abdullah, in an
interview with AFP, said Jordan sought to cooperate with other countries to
develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but Israel pressured those
countries not to comply.
“A Jordanian delegation would approach a
potential partner, and one week later an Israeli delegation would be there,
asking our interlocutors not to support Jordan’s nuclear energy bid,” AFP quoted
Abdullah as saying.
Government sources in Jerusalem, however, disputed
this, saying that Israel never objected to the Jordanian civilian nuclear
program as long as it was to be supervised by the International Atomic Energy
Agency and governed by the regulations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which
Jordan has signed.
Although Israel has not objected in principle to the
idea, it has raised questions about how the placement of the reactor near Akaba
might impact environmentally on the Red Sea, and whether it was a good idea to
place it there along the Dead Sea-Gulf of Akaba seismic rift.
Abdullah blamed Israel for the lack of progress, a number of other reasons have
been heard in Jerusalem ranging from a lack of Jordanian funds for the project,
to a dearth of skilled personnel, to French reticence – following the Fukushima
nuclear disaster in Japan last year – to assist in building new reactors
Jordan signed agreements relating to its nuclear program with
both France and Russia.
Another theory is that Jordan has been hit over
the last two weeks by angry protests over rising gas and diesel fuel prices, and
this may be a way for its king to deflect the anger on to Israel by saying the
prices are rising partly because Jordan – as a result of Israeli opposition – is
unable to develop nuclear energy.
Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its
energy requirements, is actively seeking alternative energy supplies since
repeated attacks on the pipeline transporting the gas from Egypt – to both
Jordan and Israel – have impacted negatively on the country’s energy
Abdullah said that “the attacks on the Egyptian gas pipeline
over the past two years have cost us already [$3.95 billion.] That could have
paid for almost one reactor.”
Jordan plans to invest $4.9 billion in a
nuclear power plant that would constitute one third of the total power capacity
generated in the country today, Abdullah said.
Addressing concerns from
energy experts in Jordan that the nuclear power plant would be unsafe following
the Fukushima catastrophe, the Jordanian king gave assurances that his country
would build the most secure, latest-generation reactor.
“These are far
safer than earlier models, and have multiple features that help them withstand
extreme conditions,” King Abdullah said.
“Japan’s Fukushima disaster
involved an old-generation plant,” he said.
Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.
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