Report: Jordan to build first nuclear research reactor

Commission chief: Project to build capabilities, prepare for constructing future nuclear power plants.

Nuclear reactor at Kiev research center 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)
Nuclear reactor at Kiev research center 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)
Jordan's Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given the green light for the desert kingdom to develop its first nuclear research reactor as a mechanism for meeting the country's growing energy needs, AFP reported on Tuesday.
Two South Korean firms will construct the five-megawatt reactor, which is due to be operational in 2016, AFP cited commission chief Majad Hawwari as saying.
"The reactor will help the commission build expertise and capabilities to prepare for constructing nuclear power plants in the future," Hawwari said.
The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. were set to construct the reactor, Hawwari said.
According to Hawwari, "approval of the project came after two years of studies and examination".
Jordanian officials have reportedly said the reactor would cost $130 million and South Korea has allegedly provided a loan of $70 million for the project.
According to AFP, Amman was measuring rival offers to build the reactor by Russia's Atomstroyexport and a conglomerate headed by France's Areva along with Japan's Mitsubishi.
Amman also seeks atomic energy for desalination plants to tend to its water shortage as one of the world's driest countries in addition to lower its amount of imported energy and provide more autonomously to its power need.
Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy requirements, has been 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.
Last year, Jordanian King Abdullah II accused Israel of disrupting and interfering with Jordan's nuclear energy program, in an interview with AFP.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.