All systems go for Jordan's first nuclear reactor

27 July 2010

The signature of a $70 million loan agreement by South Korea and Jordan has signalled the official start of the project to build Jordan's first nuclear research reactor.  

Korea-Jordan loan 
'The signal of Jordan entering the
nuclear age' as Shin Bong-il and Jafar
Hassan agree funding for construction
on the country's first research reactor
The so-called soft loan agreement was signed at a ceremony in the Jordanian capital by Jafar Hassan, Jordan's minister of planning and international cooperation, and Shin Bong-kil, South Korean ambassador to Jordan. The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) will provide the remainder of the $130 million funding for the project to build the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR).

According to Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, work is due to begin on the 5 MWt reactor in August 2010, with a 56-month construction schedule which should see the reactor completed by the end of March 2015. The reactor is to be built at the Jordan University for Science and Technology, 67 kilometres north of Amman. As well as being Jordan's first nuclear reactor, JRTR also represents an important first overseas order for South Korea's nuclear power industry.

JAEC chairman Khaled Toucan described the ceremony as "the signal of Jordan entering the nuclear age," and said the reactor would become the focal point for a national nuclear science and technology centre. As well as producing radioisotopes, the reactor will also provide training facilities for future generations of Jordanian nuclear scientists and engineers, and help the country to develop the infrastructure necessary to support its plans for nuclear energy. Looking further ahead, JAEC nuclear fuel cycle commissioner and JRTR project director Ned Xoubi said that the centre could in future expand to include a fuel fabrication plant, radioactive waste and cold neutron facilities.

Energy-poor Jordan is keen to set up a nuclear power program to help lessen its reliance on energy imports, which currently account for some 95% of its energy needs. JAEC's plans call for construction to begin on a 750-1100 MWe nuclear power plant in 2013, to be in operation by 2020. The JAEC set on Australian consultancy Worley Parsons to carry out the pre-construction phase of the project, and has whittled down seven offers from various reactor vendors to a shortlist of three: Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's (AECL's) Enhanced Candu-6 pressurized heavy water reactor; AtomStroyExport's AES-92 model of its VVER-1000; and the Atmea-1 pressurized water reactor design proposed by a joint venture between Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

US agreement 'soon' 


Jordan already has nuclear cooperation agreements in place with France, Spain, China, South Korea, Canada, Russia, the UK and Argentina. The USA looks likely to join that list in the near future. According to comments made by Hassan during the signing ceremony and noted in a ministerial statement, negotiations on a Jordan-USA cooperation agreement are under way and signature is expected within the next few months.


Researched and written 

by World Nuclear News