Spain and Jordan agree to nuclear cooperation

01 February 2010

Spain recently signed a bilateral agreement with Jordan to cooperate in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including for power generation and water desalination.


Jordan's official Petra news agency reported that the agreement was signed on 20 January by Sylvia Iranzo Gutierrez, Spain's secretary of state for trade, and Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). It covers issues such as the exchange of expertise, human resource development, used nuclear fuel management and disposal, nuclear safety, the drafting of legislation and regulatory frameworks, and public information and awareness. It also includes cooperation in the use of radioisotopes and radiation in industry, agriculture and medicine.


During the signing ceremony at JAEC's headquarters, Gutierrez said that the signing of the cooperation agreement was an expression of Spain's support for Jordan to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Toukan described the agreement as "another milestone on our steady path to nuclear energy."


The bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with Spain, which had been in the works since May 2009, is Jordan's eighth such accord. It follows similar agreements with countries including Argentina, Canada, China, France, Russia, South Korea and the UK. Toukan said that Jordan also plans to sign agreements with Romania and the Czech Republic before the end of 2010. The country is also working on finalizing memoranda of understanding (MoU) to proceed with agreements with the USA and Japan.


The previous day, Jordan and France adopted the final version of an MoU to be signed by the countries in February during a visit by French prime minister François Fillon. The MoU is expected to lead to an agreement to support energy projects and major projects in Jordan. It includes the establishment of a centre at the University of Jordan specializing in nuclear science, to teach students not only from Jordan but from different Arab countries. A number of French educational establishments will assist in developing the centre's curriculum.


In December 2009, a consortium of the Korea Atomic Energy Institute (Kaeri) and Daewoo Engineering and Construction was selected by JAEC to build a 5 MWt research reactor at the Jordan University for Science and Technology. The unit is seen as a vital precursor for the kingdom's plans to build a nuclear power reactor, providing training opportunities for nuclear scientists and engineers as well as producing radioisotopes for industry, agriculture and medicine. The contract to build the research reactor and related facilities is worth some $173 million.


Jordanian energy plans foresee a nuclear power plant for electricity and desalination in operation by 2015, and the country'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. As well as a raft of international cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding covering both nuclear power and uranium exploration, it has agreed an Additional Protocol on nuclear safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and signed up to the International Nuclear Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials.


Australian consulting firm Worley Parsons was award of a $11.3 million pre-construction consultancy services contract as Jordan moves towards its ambition to have a its first nuclear power plant in operation by 2015. The company has been tasked with narrowing down JAEC's shortlist of five potential reactor designs for the country's first power reactor, as well conducting a feasibility study and financial assessment of the project and assisting in the tender for the plant vendor.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News