Does Jordan need Nuclear Energy?
AMMAN: As Jordan strives to become self-reliant with the creation of two nuclear power plants, the country’s foreign policy displays a strategic realignment, writes Nikita Malik for The Citizen.
With greenhouse gases increasingly accumulating in the atmosphere, finding ways to produce power cleanly, safely, and affordably is a pressing issue for many governments. Accelerated by the discovery of 70,000 tons of uranium deposits in 2007, Jordan has opted for nuclear power to meet its growing energy needs. In time to come, it will be important to monitor the effect of Jordan’s decision to adopt nuclear power on shifting regional alignments, the evolution of geo-political and country-level risk, and the environmental, economic, and safety repercussions that are likely to result from this choice.
On October 28th, Russia’s Rosatom Overseas won the contract to build Jordan’s first nuclear power plant. Many have angled the choice of Rosatom as one of a good fit: the company meets costs according to prerequisite demands by the Jordanian government, and has several functional prototypes around the world, reducing potential hidden costs and learning externalities. This outcome was influenced, in part, however, by the automatic exclusion of the United States, which was unable to bid for a tender because of Jordan’s decision to retain the right to enrich uranium. Under terms of the current U.S. – Jordan agreement, Jordan can mine the uranium ore, but not convert it into fuel for nuclear power. Such a pact is unique to dealings with countries in the Middle East, given the United States signed a modified nuclear agreement with Vietnam in early October 2013.
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