by Mohammad Ghazal
AMMAN, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Energy-poor Jordan sees great potential for nuclear energy cooperation with China, Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"In Jordan, we see that China will be a major strategic partner with us in developing our nuclear energy program," Toukan said.
Currently, the Arab kingdom generates 2,200 megawatt of electricity annually and imports 95 percent of the energy it needs. It is planning to build four nuclear reactors by 2040 with the potential to provide 60 percent of the country's power needs.
As Jordan abounds in uranium reserves, estimated at some 140,000 tons, and other nuclear materials such as zirconium, the country is expected to produce annually 2,000 tons of yellowcake and about 300 tons of phosphate as of 2013, according to Toukan.
With the creation of the first two nuclear reactors by 2030, Jordan's energy generation capacity will be tripled to around 6,000 megawatt by using only 600 tons of yellowcake, said Toukan.
Jordan is now working with China on prospecting and reconnaissance of uranium mining mainly in Wadi Bahyya and Mafraq in the country, said Toukan, adding that "the potential there seems to be promising and commercially viable."
Jordan is also working with the Chinese to build a sub-critical assembly laboratory at the state-run Jordan University for Science and Technology, he said.
The nuclear energy chief believed that Amman would start to look at Chinese expertise in constructing nuclear power plants considering its need to build more nuclear reactors.
"I do believe that down the road, we will be looking at nuclear power plants designed and built by Chinese companies," said Toukan.
He said China is very supportive of Jordan in this regard, adding that "The Chinese government and the Chinese leadership have been very open to Jordan."
Jordan, which already signed nuclear cooperation agreements with China, France, Britain, South Korea, Argentina, Russia and Canada, is scheduled to sign a similar deal with Spain in December and another with Romania in January 2010.
"This demonstrates the confidence of the international community in Jordan and its ability to administer peaceful, open and transparent nuclear energy program," Toukan added.
Jordan is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to its additional protocol.
Well-trained manpower is a key to the success of Jordan's peaceful nuclear program, said Toukan, adding that the country has plans to build academies and institutes for specialized training on nuclear sciences and mining.
According to Toukan, Jordanian students are being sent to China, France, Russia, the United States and other European countries such as Germany for studies and training in this regard.
"I want to extend special thanks to the Chinese government that is generously giving us five scholarships on a yearly basis for students to do the masters and PhD in Chinese universities in nuclear-related studies," he said.