AMMAN - South Korea on Monday loaned energy-poor Jordan 70 million dollars to help build the kingdom`s first nuclear research reactor, a project worth 130 million dollars.
"Building the reactor is key to Jordan`s peaceful nuclear programme," planning minister Jaafar Hassan told reporters after signing an easy loan agreement with South Korean officials.
The reactor will be built at the Jordan University for Sciences and Technology near the northern city of Irbid, he said.
"It will be the cornerstone of a national centre for nuclear technology," Hassan added.
In March, Jordanian officials said the state-run Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute and Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. would construct the five-megawatt reactor
Jordan`s Atomic Energy Commission chief Khaled Tukan has said the reactor was slated for completion by 2014 and would become operational the following year after extensive safety tests.
According to Tukan, Jordan, which imports about 95 percent of its energy needs, will contribute 60 million dollars towards the overall cost of the reactor.
The country`s 1.2 billion tonnes of phosphate reserves are estimated to contain 130,000 tonnes of uranium and the government wants the first nuclear plant to be ready by 2015.
The kingdom is the latest Sunni Arab country, including Egypt and pro-Western Gulf Arab states, to announce plans for nuclear power programmes in the face of Shiite Iran`s controversial atomic drive.
BDST: 17:09 HRS, July 26, 2010