A South Korean consortium has been officially licensed to build Jordan's first nuclear reactor following over two years of technical and legal delays.
According to the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), a South Korean consortium, comprising of Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and Daewoo, have been given the green light by regulators to build the country's first nuclear research reactor — a 5-megawatt structure to be established at the Jordan University of Science and Technology near the northern city of Irbid.
The license to construct the reactor, granted by the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) earlier this month, had been previously delayed due to disputes over the outcome of an Environmental Impact Assessment and safety concerns.
After a lengthy review, the environmental impact and safety assessments for the $130 million reactor, funded in part by a $70 million soft loan extended by Seoul in 2010, were approved by the Environment Ministry and the JNRC in addition to local and international energy experts, according to JAEC.
Under current plans, the consortium will break ground on the reactor early next year, with the center to be operational by 2016, according to a JAEC press statement.
The project would mark the first operational nuclear reactor in Jordan and aims to serve as a training ground for hundreds of engineers and technicians who are to man Jordan's proposed nuclear program, which entails the construction of up to four reactors to transform the country from an energy importer to an electricity exporter.
Nuclear officials say the project also aims to produce over 10 times the radioisotopes currently produced in the country and will be used for medical and agricultural purposes.
Jordan's nuclear program has been the target of a backlash by environmental activists and lawmakers over the past year. Critics claim that the country lacks the funds and water resources to sustain such a large-scale energy project.
Atomic energy advocates claim that the energy source is one of the keys to answering Jordan's chronic energy woes.