the “Arab Spring” has pulled the plug on nuclear power for the Middle East
Arab Spring proves winter to nuclear ambitions Times Live, Sapa-dpa | 08 July, 2012 Along with lifetime presidencies, emergency laws, and personalised security forces, the Arab Spring uprisings of the past year have claimed another illustrious victim: nuclear energy.
“All the plans, all the agreements, all the studies; everything has stopped,” said Abdelmajid Mahjoub, director of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA), a regional atomic energy body affiliated with the Arab League.
According to the AAEA, nearly a dozen Arab states had either embarked
upon or revived peaceful nuclear energy programmes during the last
decade to fuel energy-costly desalination projects and meet
skyrocketing electricity demand spurred by demographic growth.
Yet, a few short years later, such atomic energy dreams have been
shattered by the new political realities of the Arab Spring, as months
of political upheaval have transformed a region once destined for a
nuclear renaissance into a blackspot on the nuclear industry map.
“No-one wants to invest in long-term projects in the Arab world,
especially anything with the word ‘nuclear’ in it,” Mahjoub said.
ndustry observers say no nuclear programme has been harder hit by the
Arab Spring than Egypt’s, where popular protests pulled the plug on
the country’s fifth attempt to go nuclear in nearly half a century.
“After years of moving ahead, everything changed in a single day,”
said Ibrahim Shaway, vice chairman of the Egyptian Nuclear Power
Plants Authority, which invited international firms to submit bids for
the country’s first reactor the very day protestors began gathering in
Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
According to Shaway, the popular uprising and the resulting political
instability “scared off” once eager investors, leaving energy
officials struggling to find a firm willing to take a chance on a
programme that once envisioned the construction of four nuclear
While the Egyptian programme has grounded to a halt, nuclear energy
has completely fallen off the policy agendas in countries such as
Libya and Yemen, where revolutionaries face the tall tasks of uniting
bitterly divided nations and building state institutions from the
Regional political shifts have even impacted the nuclear ambitions of
more politically stable states such as Jordan – where an Arab Spring
inspired anti-nuclear movement has forced energy officials to relocate
the site for the country’s planned nuclear reactor and even prompted
parliament to vote to suspend the programme entirely……
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