Source AP ©

King Abdullah II plans to speed up nuclear power program

Jordan's King ordered to speed up in implementing the country's nascent nuclear power program in a bid to cut energy imports.

Following up on his January announcement of his intentions to develop a peaceful nuclear program, the king stressed the need for an alternative energy source to generate electricity and desalinate water in the face of the rising costs of imported energy.

"This issue is one of the most important challenges Jordan faces requiring radical solutions in the long term," Abdullah told the first meeting of the recently formed Supreme Committee for Nuclear Energy Strategy.

Minister for Scientific Research Khaled Toukan told the committee that "nuclear energy would constitute 30 percent of the total amount of energy produced in Jordan by 2030," based on studies his ministry has conducted.

"This would shift Jordan from being an energy importing country to an energy producing country in 2030 by providing power at reduced costs in the industry and service sectors to support economic growth," Toukan said.

Abdullah told the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei during his April visit to Amman that Jordan needed to diversify its sources of energy, especially with oil prices rising.

In May, Jordan's energy czar Khaled al-Shraydeh announced the country possessed the uranium needed for a nuclear energy program, estimating there were reserves of 80,000 tons with another 100,000 tons contained in its phosphate deposits.

Other countries in the region, including U.S.-allies Egypt and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council also have announced plans to develop their own peaceful nuclear programs.

The moves come against a backdrop of rising regional concern over Iran's nuclear program which it describes as being for peaceful purposes, though the U.S. alleges it is also for developing weapons.

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