Jordan ditches $10 billion atomic plant deal with Russia

This file photo shows the 300-megawatt Samra Thermal Power Station in Al Zarqa, Jordan.
Jordan has decided to abandon a $10 billion deal with Russia to build a nuclear power plant, saying the two sides worked to construct a small modular reactor (SMR) instead.  
The deal signed in March 2015 set the basis for building the kingdom’s first nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts, but a government official on Saturday indicated that the plan was unfeasible.
"Jordan is now focusing on small modular reactors because the large reactors place financial burden on the kingdom and in light of the current fiscal conditions, we believe it is best to focus on smaller reactors,” The Jordan Times quoted the official as saying. 
Jordan imports nearly 98 percent of its energy from oil products and crude and is struggling to meet electricity demand which is growing by more than 7 percent annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion.
Chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Khaled Toukan said Russia and Jordan had decided to intensify and step up their cooperation in the field of SMRs.
“Today, a potential project to construct SMR-type NPP (nuclear power plant) seems more relevant and more needed, so we would like to focus on it,” Toukan said.
Russia was selected for nuclear cooperation by Amman in October 2013. Under the original plan, the first of the envisaged plant’s two units was expected to start operating after 2022 and the second one two years later.
The new arrangement comes amid a fallout in relations between Jordan and the US following Washington's relocation of its embassy to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds from Tel Aviv. 
Jordan, traditionally a pro-Western country, is furious because the move permanently undermines the kingdom's role as the custodian of Muslim holy sites in the city. 
Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned that the relocation would have serious repercussions for security and peace in the Middle East, and seriously hurt the feelings of Muslims and Christians.