Israel reconsiders Negev nuclear plant

06 August 2007

[Associated Press, Reuters, 4 August] "The government of Israel is to make a historic decision concerning the building of a nuclear power plant... in the Negev," Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's minister of infrastructure, told a meeting of the Israel Association of Electrical and Electronics Engineers on 3 August. The minister was quoted on Israel Army Radio as saying that the plan had the support of prime minister Ehud Olmert. He said the decision to construct the plant stemmed in part from Israeli concerns about depleting natural energy resources worldwide and the environmental damage caused by using coal. Israel's electricity sector currently relies heavily on imported coal and oil. If the plan is approved by government, it would reportedly take some eight years to complete construction of the plant. Israel has always kept a policy of "ambiguity" over its nuclear research programs - it has never confirmed or denied whether it has nuclear weapons, but acknowledges having two research reactors. A plan to construct a nuclear power plant in the Negev was first considered in the 1970s. In the 1980s, state-owned Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) set aside a site in the southern Negev at Shivta for a nuclear power plant, and discussions were held with France regarding equipment. Israel is one of three significant countries (the others being India and Pakistan) which have never been part of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), so any supply of nuclear equipment or fuel from outside the country would be severely constrained.

Further information

WNA's Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries information paper
Iran, North Korea & Iraq - Implications for Safeguards information paper

WNN: Israel considers nuclear energy