Jordan: A nonproliferation advocate that lacks resources for a nuclear weapons program. Jordan too has ambitious plans for a civilian nuclear program, which it developed in response to growing energy needs and its over-reliance on foreign energy supply; some 97 percent of its energy was imported in 2011. With the help of a South Korean consortium, Jordan is building a 5 megawatt research and training reactor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. It also wants to build a nuclear plant with two 1,000-megawatt reactors; the plant aims to provide 30 percent of Jordan’s electricity by 2030. In February 2015, Jordan signed an agreement with Russia’s Rosatom, which will build and operate both nuclear units.
But Jordan’s nuclear program stops there. The country lacks the technology, human resources, experience, or infrastructure necessary for a nuclear weapons program.
There is one cause for concern: Amman’s refusal to sign a 123 nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. Jordan has significant uranium reserves and wants to preserve the option of domestic enrichment. Among countries in the Middle East who want to preserve the “right to enrich,”Jordan’s claims may make the most sense economically and practically. To this end, Amman pursued mining and milling options with foreign companies. To date none has panned out.
Jordan’s plans for nuclear power are grounded in long-standing energy concerns that emerged long before the start of nuclear talks with Iran and that are unlikely to be affected by Iranian nuclear plans. Jordan has been an upstanding non-proliferation advocate and party to the NPT. The country has an Additional Protocol and a series of other non-proliferation commitments in place. It has a sterling track record: It was not found in violation of any of its non-proliferation commitments. What’s more, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey, its security depends on its alliance with the United States—an alliance Amman will not lightly jeopardize.