Egypt, Russia sign Dabaa nuclear plant deal

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Nov 2015

nuclear plant deal
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stands as Russian - Egyptian officials sings the first Egyptian nuclear plant deal (Photo: Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi official Facebook page)

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi oversaw the signing of the first Egyptian nuclear plant deal between Egypt and Russia on Thursday.

El-Sisi said that the new power plant will consist of “four third-generation reactors,” describing them as the most up-to-date reactors that have been innovated.

El-Sisi also said that the project is "peaceful" and aims to produce electricity.

Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatomalong, along with a Russian delegation, signed the Dabaa nuclear plant deal with the Egyptian government in Cairo's Ittihadeya palace.

First nuclear plant

"The Dabaa nuclear plant will be the largest Russian-Egyptian project since the Aswan dam," Kiriyenko told the media on Thursday referring to the High dam built in the 60s. "It will mark a truly new chapter in the history of our bilateral relations."

"The plant will make Egypt the regional leader in the field of nuclear technologies and the only country in the region that will have a generation 3+ plant," he added.

The plant, expected to be constructed within 12 years, will consist of four nuclear power units, 1,200 megawatt (MW) each.

In a televised speech following the signature of the deal, the Egyptian president said that the cost of the station would be covered by a loan that will last for 35 years through the period of the production of electricity from the Dabaa station.

The Egyptian president also made clear that Egypt is committed to the international conventions prohibiting proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear plants.

El-Sisi stressed that the project is 'for peaceful purposes' and highlighted that Egypt has always had the "dream of a peaceful nuclear programme."

"This project marks the first step towards our future plans that will entitle us to cooperate more in the nuclear industry with other countries," El-Sisi said.

All countries in the Middle East, excluding Israel, are parties to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose 191 signatories have agreed to nuclear disarmament for countries with nuclear weapons, non-proliferation in those that don't have them, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy everywhere.

Egypt put forth the idea for a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East in 1990 and has frequently since then called for nuclear disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. All ministers in the cabinet attended the signing of the deal along with former prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab.

The plant will be located at an existing nuclear site in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast, west of Alexandria.

A message of hope

Both sides agreed on the timing of the deal to send a message of "hope" following the terrorist incident that last month, according to El-Sisi.

A Russian airliner in late October was downed by a bomb -- according to the Kremlin -- killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.

El-Sisi highlighted that the signing of such a project following the terrorism incident reveals the strong ties between Cairo and Moscow.

He has also stressed that Egypt showed its support to Russia for all the casualties who were killed in the "terrorist incident."

In 2009 the now-dissolved National Democratic Party planned to build a nuclear power plant on the site, but the project was halted due to political turmoil. It was revived again in 2013 under then interim president Adly Mansour.

Following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egyptian-Russian relations have been strengthened in terms of diplomatic and military cooperation.

The nuclear plant project will be used to alleviate a significant electricity shortage that has caused frequent blackouts in recent years.

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