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Funding issues behind scrapping nuclear deal with Russia — JAEC

Round-the-clock judicial monitoring of facilities ordered

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jun 12,2018 - Last updated at Jun 12,2018

AMMAN — The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) said Monday it scrapped a $10 billion deal with Russia to build the country’s first nuclear power plant as the Russians requested securing the necessary finance for the project via commercial loans.

“Jordan and Russia held a meeting last year to discuss means to move forward with the project and how to secure necessary finance for the plant… The Russians requested obtaining loans from commercial banks, which would have increased the cost of the project and the prices of generated electricity. The Jordanian government rejected the proposal,” JAEC said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times on Monday.

The commercial loans would have made the prices of electricity generated via nuclear plants uncompetitive, and therefore the deal was scrapped, JAEC said.

The commission said the Jordanian government did not incur any financial losses or legal issues due to scrapping the deal.

Last month, Jordan announced a plan for a small modular nuclear reactor with Russia, replacing the $10 billion nuclear power plant for which an agreement was signed in 2015 between the JAEC and Russia’s Rosatom Overseas.

The government said in May that the plan to build two nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts was over and that the focus would be on smaller reactors. 

The JAEC will focus on small modular reactors in the upcoming phase.

The JAEC has already started talks with several countries including China, the UK and others on small nuclear reactors.

Also Monday, JAEC said financial expenses of the Jordanian Nuclear Programme from 2008 until the end of 2017 reached JD112 million, which was allocated in the budget.

In addition, there has been a JD59 million loan obtained to build and run the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR), the commission said.

The loan, which will be paid as of 2020 over a period of 20 years ending in 2040, is from Korean EXIM Bank at an interest rate of 0.2  per cent, JAEC officials noted.

By all accounts, these figures are modest compared to what other regional countries have paid so far for their nuclear plants, as the UAE has spent $24.4 billion and Egypt $22 billion, a JAEC official said Monday.

According to the JAEC, JD8.7 million was spent on exploration and mining of Jordanian uranium ores, JD39.1 million on the Jordan Nuclear Power Plant Project, JD56 million as government support to the Jordan Research and Training Reactor, JD4.6 million on Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), JD1.6 million on fellowships and scholarships, JD1.2 million on Jordan Sub-critical Assembly (Nuclear Engineering Department at Jordan University of Science and Technology), among others.

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