Russia and Jordan have signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Japan has agreed to help Italy with its reintroduction of nuclear power.
The agreement between Russia and Jordan was signed on 22 May by Rosatom director general Sergei Kiriyenko and Khalid Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC).
The agreement will initially run for ten years and will include cooperation in the design and construction of commercial nuclear power plants and research reactors, as well as water desalination plants. It also covers the development of uranium deposits and nuclear fuel cycle facilities, although under the agreement, Russia would supply Jordan with nuclear fuel, which would be returned to Russia once used.
Cooperation between the two countries would also extend to the training of workers, research, nuclear safety and non-energy applications of nuclear energy.
The Jordanian energy minister has said that the country, which has virtually no oil or gas resources, expects to have a nuclear power plant operating by 2017, for electricity and desalination. Jordan's Committee for Nuclear Strategy has set out a program for nuclear power to provide 30% of electricity by 2030 or 2040, and to provide for exports.
Jordan has already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with the USA, Canada, France and UK, in respect to both power and desalination, and is seeking help from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It has also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China, covering uranium mining in Jordan and nuclear power, and others with South Korea and Japan related to infrastructure including nuclear power and desalination.
Japan offers Italy help
Meanwhile, Japan and Italy have signed a memorandum to cooperate in nuclear power development, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) has announced.
On the sidelines of the G8 ministerial meeting in Rome at the weekend, Toshihiro Nikai, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, and Claudio Scajola, Italy's economic development minister, signed the memorandum.
Under the memorandum, which will remain in effect for three years and can be renewed, Japan will cooperate with Italy through the training of nuclear professionals and the exchange of information.
Following a referendum in November 1987, provoked by the Chernobyl accident 18 months earlier, work on Italy's nuclear program was largely stopped. In 1988, the government resolved to halt all nuclear construction, shut the remaining reactors and decommission them from 1990. As well as the operating plants, two new boiling water reactors were almost complete and six locally-designed pressurized water reactor units were planned.
This situation was reversed by the general election of May 2008, when Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party put a return to nuclear energy in its manifesto.
Italy has since signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia and France.