Nuclear Power in MENA

Egypt and the Nuclear Power Plants in MENA

Dr. Shaul Shay May 22, 2016

Since 1974, Egypt has taken the initiative of proposing to render the Middle East nuclear-weapons free zone, calling all countries in the region without exception to join the NPT.                 In April 1990, Egypt took the initiative to render the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference established a multinational mechanism to work on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone. This mechanism, however, has stalled as a result of the Israeli position. In April 1996, Egypt hosted the conference for signing the declaration on rendering Africa a nuclear-weapons free zone.

Although Egypt signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968, it has refused to sign the NPT’s Additional Protocol, which permits spot inspections, as well as treaties banning the possession of chemical and biological weapons.

Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations at Geneva, Amr Ahmed Ramadan called on September 10, 2014, for an international convention to ban the production of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons. Ramadan made the remarks during the closing session of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), 2014 held in Geneva.

Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have announced plans to build nuclear power plants and over the next decade, new nuclear power plants are scheduled to be operational throughout the MENA region.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is ahead with its Barakah flagship project that will be the first Arab nuclear power plant. The first unit is expected to start generating electricity in 2017, and the final unit is scheduled for operation in 2020.

Saudi Arabia will follow with the most ambitious nuclear plan, involving sixteen nuclear reactors to be built by 2032 with a total capacity of more than 17 GW. The first reactor is expected to be operating in 2022.

Jordan signed a deal with Russia to build Jordan’s first nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 2,000 megawatts (MW), projected to be operational in 2023.

Egypt and Russia signed an agreement, on November 19, 2015, under which Russia will build and finance Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, in a ceremony attended by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. A media gag order was imposed on December 21, 2015, on reports involving the Dabaa nuclear project in Egypt. The planned plant would be located at an existing nuclear site in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast, west of Alexandria. The agreement envisages a power plant with four reactors producing 1,200 megawatts each. Along with the reactors, the plant will also have desalination capacities. The project will be completed in 2022.

On February 10, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared that the two countries plan to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant together.

On February 14, 2015, a delegation of Egyptian nuclear power experts and officials headed to Moscow to meet with Russian officials for talks on the Egyptian nuclear power-generation program to be implemented in partnership with Russia. The delegation in Russia included the head of Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority, Khalil Yaso, the head of the Egypt’s Atomic Energy Authority, Atef El-Kadim, and the deputy president of Egypt’s Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority, Walid Zeidan, in addition to officials from the ministry of electricity. The delegation visited nuclear energy training centers and nuclear power plants in Moscow.  Israel Defense

In October 2015, Anton Moskvin, Rosatom‘s overseas vice president, announced that talks for a contract to build a nuclear power station in Egypt had reached their final stages. He said that the deal was expected to be signed by the end of the year and the project will be completed in 2022.

In November 2015, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has asked Prime Minster Sherif Ismail, Minster of Electricity Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Finance Hani Qadry, and the head of the financial affairs authority for Egypt’s armed forces, to finalize all the legal and technical procedures in order to implement a Russian bid to establish a nuclear power plant in Egypt. Only a week later, Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom, arrived to Cairo to discuss final procedures related to the project.

In April 2016, Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom announced that it had opened an office in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The office will help oversee the company’s many nuclear power projects in the Middle East.” Israel Defense