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      Jordan Going Nuclear

      Jordan will announce the winning bidder for the construction of its first nuclear power plant in the coming months.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 8/11/2011, 9:01 PM

      The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will announce the winner of a bid to construct the country's first nuclear reactor in what may open the door to broad access to nuclear power and technology in the Gulf region.

      Officials are expected to announce the name of the selected reactor vendor in November, according to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan.
       
      The announcement of the company chosen to construct the plant at a site in Majdal, near Mafraq, some 40 kilometers northeast of Amman, was originally slated for December.
       
      The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) is currently vetting offers from three shortlisted companies.
       
      The offers to construct a 1,000-megawatt Generation III reactor by the end of the decade are from Canada’s AECL, Russian Atomstroy Export and a French-Japanese consortium comprising AREVA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
       
      Energy officials in Amman have prioritised nuclear power as key to weaning the country off energy imports, which cost the country one-fifth of its gross domestic product in 2010. 
       
      Jordan, like Israel, has experienced disruption of gas imports and increased costs due to multiple attacks on the Sinai pipeline that provides the kingdom with much of its natural gas.
       
      Officials point to stable long-term electricity prices and the ability to utilise the country’s extensive uranium reserves -- estimated at over 100,000 tons -- as among the several advantages of atomic energy.
       
      Jordan in September will begin integrating itself into the now six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which wants to form a diplomatic and military conferation in what some analysts say is the first step to an Arab super-power.
       
      Jordan's gained nuclear know-how would almost certainly be leveraged by its future GCC partners, who will share a border with Israel when Jordan's integration -- and the confederation initiative -- is complete.
       
      Jordan is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has committed itself to full transparency with the IAEA nuclear watchdog in order to obtain civilian nuclear power.
       
      Its future GCC partner, Saudi Arabia, however, has said it will seek nuclear weapons if Iran obtains an atomic bomb of its own.