'Jordan has uranium to build a reactor'

Energy chief cites huge reserves, says plant meant to provide electricity.

abdullah of jordan 298ap (photo credit: AP [file])
abdullah of jordan 298ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Jordan said Saturday the country possessed the uranium needed to develop its newly announced nuclear energy program but cautioned that it still requires the necessary legislation and manpower to pursue the technology. Jordan's energy czar Khaled al-Shraydeh told the official Petra news agency that the country is estimated to have 80,000 tons of uranium. He added that the country's phosphate reserves also contain some 100,000 tons of uranium. But al-Shraydeh said that Jordan still needs to put in place the necessary legislation and build the manpower capacity needed to pursue nuclear technology. In January, Jordan's King Abdullah II announced his intentions to develop a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes as a necessary alternative energy source to generate electricity and desalinate water. He told the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei during his visit last month to Amman that his kingdom needed to diversify its sources of energy, especially with oil prices rising. Abdullah pledged that Jordan, which imports nearly all of its oil, would be a model in the peaceful development of nuclear energy. Jordan joins the ranks of other regional countries, notably the Gulf Arab countries, Egypt and Turkey, who have all said they are studying the feasibility of building civilian programs for generating electricity with nuclear reactors. While none of the Mideast nations expressing an interest in nuclear power has publicly cited US allegations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies - some analysts think the announcements are intended to be a warning to the Iranians about the dangers of a regional arms race. Energy experts also say any significant Arab nuclear program would probably take years, and some are skeptical that cash-strapped countries like Egypt and Jordan have the resources for such facilities.