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Thursday, October 13, 2011     GET REAL

Jordan to begin producing uranium in 2013

AMMAN — Jordan, which imports 98 percent of its energy, intends to begin production of uranium by 2013.


The kingdom has signed agreements with Argentina, Britain, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Romania, Russia and Turkey.

"Jordan will start producing uranium by 2013 and generating electricity from nuclear power by 2019," Jordanian Energy Minister Khalid Toukan said.

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Officials said the program would take at least a decade and ensure that Jordan becomes a producer of nuclear fuel.

On Sept. 21, Toukan and other senior officials discussed Jordan's nuclear energy program at a seminar by the official news agency Petra. The minister said Amman was examining bids from three foreign companies for the construction of the nation's first nuclear reactor. The companies were identified as a consortium comprised of France's Areva and Japan's Mitsubishi, as well as Russia's Atomstroyexport and Atomic Energy of Canada.

Toukan said Jordan would exploit its uranium ore reserves, estimated at 65,000 tons. Most of the ore was believed located in central Jordan, and the minister said the ore would mark the basis of a nuclear energy program, including water desalination.

The first nuclear energy reactor was expected to be built in Kherbat Al Samra, 40 kilometers northeast of Amman. The nuclear site was meant to encompass two square kilometers and draw water from a nearby sewage treatment plant.

Officials acknowledged that Kherbat meant that the original proposed site north of Aqaba was abandoned. They cited much higher infrastructure costs as well as unsuitable topography in Aqaba.

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