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Advisory group finalising critical report on Jordan’s nuclear programme

By Mohammad Ghazal - Feb 01,2016 - Last updated at Feb 01,2016

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday received a delegation from the International Advisory Group (IAG) tasked with reviewing Jordan’s progress in implementing its nuclear programme, a Royal Court statement said. 

During the meeting attended by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the King underlined the importance of moving forward with implementing the Jordanian nuclear project to enhance sustainable economic and social development and provide the Kingdom with its energy needs. 

The King also voiced Jordan's interest to become a leading role model in using atomic energy for peaceful purposes and its commitment to the highest levels of safety, in accordance with international best practices. 

The Monarch highlighted establishing the research reactor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology to be a regional centre for research and training with the aim of training Jordanians and Arabs in the field of atomic technology. 

For his part, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan showcased the IAG efforts in the field of technical consultation to ensure the execution of the vital project within a limited timeframe, committing to international safety standards. 

The advisory group is chaired by former premier Marouf Bakhit, comprising leading international experts in the field.

The IAG is tasked with reviewing Jordan’s progress in implementing its nuclear programme.

It is expected to submit a comprehensive detailed report in this regard within three months, Bakhit said Monday.

In a speech at the first International Advisory Group meeting, he said the review entails an independent assessment of the nuclear programme in terms of applying the highest standards of safety, security and non-proliferation.

The report will also highlight how the programme is progressing to achieve its objectives and underscores potential areas of improvement, he said, adding that the report will be then submitted to His Majesty King Abdullah, the Prime Minister, the Parliament and will be made public.

The group, which was formed in November 2015 to also provide consultations on Jordan’s strategy to deal with nuclear waste, and the best options and mechanisms to finance the nuclear power plant, includes former energy minister Khaled Shraideh and seven world-renowned international experts in this field.

“Our meeting today marks the beginning of a new dialogue and partnership to assess and review the progress made in Jordan’s nuclear energy programme, which is composed of the nuclear power plant project, uranium exploration and mining and human resources development,” said Bakhit.

“It is intended that Jordan’s nuclear programme is implemented with a high level of efficiency and transparency, in compliance with the best international standards of safety, security and non-proliferation,” said the IAG chair.

In addition to Bakhit and Shraideh, the IAG includes Lady Barbara Judge — former chairperson of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Rolf Huer — former director general of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Mike Weightman — former chief inspector of nuclear installations in the UK and executive head of the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation,  Werner Burkart — former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Peter B. Lyons — former assistant secretary at the US department of energy’s office of nuclear energy, Akira Omoto — former commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission and  Richard Meserve, the president emeritus at Carnegie Institution for Science.

Reviewing progress made so far in the programme, Toukan stressed the strategic importance of the nuclear programme to meet the rising demand on electricity in Jordan.

He said the nuclear reactors to be built as part of the project will help diversify Jordan’s resources of energy, especially since Jordan’s losses after the disruption of natural gas from Egypt currently exceed $6.8 billion.

Toukan said Jordan has made strides in the field of uranium excavation, adding that a report will be issued early March updating quantities of uranium resources available in Jordan.

In October 2013, Jordan contracted Russia’s Rosatom to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors, which are expected to be operational by 2022.

 

Under the deal, Rosatom agreed to take on 49 per cent of the plants’ $10 billion construction and operation costs on a build-own-operate basis, with the government  shouldering the remaining 51 per cent and retaining a majority share in the plants. 

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Pity we cannot apply the same criteria for making Jordan a leading promoter and user of renewable energy that would allow Jordan to become self sufficient, to make the desert bloom and to become the greenest place in the Middle East.

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