Jordan and China sign nuclear agreement

20 August 2008

Jordan and China have signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, particularly electricity generation and water desalination.

Signing of the agreement (Image: Petra) 
The agreement was signed by Khaled Touqan, president of Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission, and Gong Xiao Sheng, China's ambassador in Amman.

The agreement paves the way for cooperation between the two countries in the fields of basic and applied research and development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy; the design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants; as well as the exploration and processing of uranium.

Touqan told the official Jordanian News Agency (Petra) that the agreement aims to establish a legal and political framework for cooperation between the two countries. He noted that that the agreement focused on the prospect of cooperation in training. Jordan will this year send five postgraduate students to undertake masters and doctorate studies in China in the field of nuclear energy upon scholarships provided by the Chinese government.

In addition, Touqan said that both China and Jordan are preparing to begin studies for the prospecting and mining of uranium in several regions in Jordan. The country has low-cost uranium resources of 140,000 tU plus another 59,000 tU in phosphate deposits. A feasibility study on recovering uranium as a by-product of phosphate production is also under way.

The Chinese ambassador said that the cooperation agreement "is the beginning of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and other projects serving the interests of the two countries."

Jordan has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with the USA, France and UK, in respect to both power and desalination, and is seeking help from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Jordan joined the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) in 2007.

The country currently imports about 95% of its energy needs. Jordan also has a 'water deficit' of about 500 million cubic metres per year. The energy minister has said that the country expects to have a nuclear power plant operating by 2015, 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, and to provide for exports.