Bushehr Reactor 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Kuwait will build four nuclear reactors over the next 12 years, a national nuclear energy official said.
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Ahmad Bishara, secretary general of Kuwait’s National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNNEC), said that Kuwait is planning to build four 1,000 megawatt reactors by 2022. Speaking to press in Tokyo, Bishara said construction will begin as early as January.
The move would make Kuwait, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, the fourth Arab state to announce plans to build nuclear reactors for energy, after Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
“This is typical of the region,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, director of
security and defense studies at the Gulf Research Center told Media
Line. “Kuwait is following suit behind Saudi Arabia and United Arab
“They need to do something,” Karasik said, pointing out that Kuwait
faces an energy growth rate of some seven percent a year. “They will
have to figure it out as they go along.”
Bishara, secretary general of Kuwait’s nuclear committee, said the
country would be able to afford nuclear development so long as the price
of oil remains relatively stable.
“Our initial analysis indicates that nuclear is viable as long as oil is
above $45 to $50 a barrel,” he said in Tokyo on Friday, adding that it
was not yet clear how nuclear energy “fits in the energy mix of Kuwait
for the next 20 years.”
Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear analyst at the Institute of Energy Economics,
told journalists in Tokyo that Kuwait faces a greater energy crises
than its Arab neighbors.
“Kuwait’s need to develop its power infrastructure is greater than other
Arab countries” Murakami said. “Summer power shortages are severe.”
The Kuwaiti government has been taking a number of steps over the past
few months to boost there alternative energy capacity. In April, Kuwait
signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with France. This week, Bishara
signed an additional cooperation agreement with Japan to enlarge
Kuwait’s long term nuclear capacity.
The agreement will bring with it lucrative contracts for Japanese firms.
Kuwait is the second Arab country over the past year to sign a nuclear
deal with an Asian state, following a deal signed between the United
Arab Emirates and South Korea last December.
Arab countries have taken a number of initiatives in recent years to
expand their alternative energy sources. Saudi Arabia made plans in July
with two firms in the United States and one from Japan to begin
construction on what will be the nation’s first nuclear power plant.
Following suit, in August Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced the
site of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant along the Mediterranean
Oil exporting nations have a vested interest in finding alternative
sources of energy so as to maximize their oil exports. By investing in
alternative energy now, Arab states hope to see gains in oil exports in