AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan signed a $10 billion deal with Russia on Tuesday to build the kingdom's first nuclear power plant, with two 1,000-megawatt reactors in the country's north.
The deal, signed in the Jordanian capital, Amman, caps efforts of the energy-poor kingdom to attain energy sufficiency and reduce imports. Jordan lacks any local energy sources and imports 96 percent of its electricity.
The violence in neighboring Iraq and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula has threatened and in many cases, completely cut off supplies. According to the state Petra news agency, Jordan plans to finish construction of the plant in Amra in the country's north by 2022. There are hope it will be fueled with uranium mined in Jordan.
The deal was signed with Russia's state-owned Rosatom company.
"As you know, we lost the oil from Iraq, natural gas from Egypt, and the country has been bleeding and losing on an average $3 billion every year," said Khalid Toukan, head of the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission.
"We aim to build a state-of-the art nuclear power plant that will be a showcase for the region and other newcomer countries," Toukan said.
"Nuclear power is definitely one of the solutions to graduate from total dependency on oil and gas," he added. "I am optimistic that the raw materials, the yellow cake, will come from Jordan."
He was referring to the kingdom's large uranium deposits discovered in 2007 but still undeveloped.
Rosatom's director Sergei Kiriyenko promised to use Russia's 70 years of experience with nuclear energy with "post-Fukushima lessons" to build the plant, which is among 20 the company is constructing across the world.
"The power plant is the embodiment of a real strategic partnership," Kiriyenko said
Under the deal, Jordan must buy fuel from Rosatom for the reactors for 10 years, after which it may seek other suppliers. The Jordanian government will have a slight majority ownership, with Rosatom owning 49 pecent of the plant, according to the Jordan Times.
Earlier this year, Rosatom signed an agreement, the details of which are secret, to build two reactors in Hungary. An last month, during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Egypt, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant at an existing nuclear site in Dabaa, on the Mediterranean coast where a research reactor has stood for years.