Jordanians are wondering why the United States is opposing efforts from Jordan to establish a uranium enrichment program. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international accords "guarantee the right of all nations to develop nuclear energy meant for peaceful purposes", which includes uranium enrichment.
Jordan has huge uranium reserves. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has estimated that the country has uranium deposits of nearly 112,000 tons, ranking 11th on the global chart. It has licensed French energy company Areva to extract 2,000 tons of uranium ore annually from its central and southern deserts. A British-Australian company and a Chinese firm are also exploring other regions for deposits.
Jordan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Khaled Toukan says the country's nuclear project, including uranium enrichment "is not a choice but a national necessity that will guarantee the nation's future."
A Jordanian view:
But the US is opposing uranium enrichment in Jordan. According to the US proposal, Jordan must exchange its uranium for enriched uranium produced in foreign countries, a move that would impose a burdensome expenditure on Jordan. The US is not just trying to impose this restriction on Jordan. In fact, Washington wants to deprive all Arab states of their national and international right to enrich uranium.
Jordan and the US signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation in 2008 that guaranteed Jordan's right to enrich uranium. In the same year, Jordan also entered into talks with two US companies for the construction of its first nuclear power plant, and without consultation with any other Arab country, waived its right to enrichment. Saudi Arabia and Egypt will probably also be forced to accept the same fate. However, the main difference is that those two countries both sit atop vast oil reserves.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has remained one of Washington's main unwavering allies in the Middle East. It is referred to as a NATO partner. All these concessions should allow the country to demand its right to enrich uranium, as enumerated in international agreements.
One Jordanian official says the real US policy is to ban foreign enrichment and nuclear fuel production. According to this policy, nuclear programs from the Nile to the Euphrates would be required to be dependent on nuclear fuel exporting countries. In the Middle East, only Israel is allowed to enjoy access to the complete nuclear fuel cycle, and the US is opposed to any efforts that could break this monopoly.
What was that again on nuclear power and independence?
At the moment, Jordan needs to import 95% of its oil and gas needs. In 2007, the nation of 7 million people spent US$3.2 billion to buy oil. This figure swelled to US$3.9 billion in 2008, which is about 20% of Jordan's gross domestic product. Imagine the possibilities of solar and what that would mean for dependency and the gross domestic product! Because there are (too) many examples that nuclear power does not decrease dependency on oil.
Source: Press.tv, 14 August 2010