J'lem denies disrupting Jordan's nuke energy bid

Jordanian monarch claims Israeli delegates pressuring other countries not to cooperate with the country's nuclear energy bid.

Jordan King Abdullah 370 (photo credit:  	 REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
Jordan King Abdullah 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
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.
While 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 abroad.
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 economy.
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.