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Middle East
Jordan and France sign uranium deal
Energy-poor Jordan plans to build first nuclear reactor to meet energy demands.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2010 15:12 GMT
Jordan suffers enduring shortage in
water resources and energy

Jordan has signed an agreement with France's nuclear giant Areva, giving the company exclusive uranium mining rights.

The deal was agreed on Sunday during a visit by Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, who was received by King Abdullah II.

The agreement gives Areva exclusive rights to extract and mine uranium in the central parts of Jordan.

The desert kingdom, which is poor in energy and water resources, is seeking to develop nuclear energy to generate power and desalinate water.

Fillon said he also spoke with Samir Rifai, the Jordian PM, about the prospects for building nuclear plants by French firms in the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.

"Our goal is to create a full partnership with Jordan on training and obtaining nuclear technology ... or with any other country in the region that seeks civilian nuclear technology," he told reporters.

"We discussed offers to build nuclear plants in Aqaba, and we will work on providing the best offers."

Jordanian officials have said that Areva, which started mining in central Jordan in 2008, could extract around 130,000 tonnes of uranium from the kingdom's 1.2 billion tonnes of phosphate reserves and build a nuclear reactor.

Energy needs

The country, which imports around 95 percent of its energy needs, aims to bring its first nuclear plant on line by 2015.

Officials have said they hope nuclear power will supply 30 percent of energy production by 2030.

Jordan is the latest Arab country to announce plans for nuclear power programmes, despite the controversy which has surrounded Iran's atomic ambitions.

Fillon, who arrived late Saturday in Jordan at the head of a large delegation, also attended an economic forum and said that Paris wanted to forge an "ambitious global partnership" with Jordan and boost economic ties.

Source:
AFP
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