Moscow has reached a “basic agreement” with Damascus on a plan to construct a nuclear reactor in Syria, according to an official statement issued by the Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday, January 14. Damascus will also welcome Russian oil and gas companies interested in becoming involved in the exploration and production of its natural resources, the annoucement added.
The two governments agreed that nuclear complex would include a power plant and water desalinization unit that will be used for peaceful purposes. “Energy facilities built with our assistance ensure 20 percent of the country's electric power needs and 30 percent of its oil production," Russia’s foreign ministry stated. Syrian Vice President Abd Al-Halim Khaddam has arrived in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the project.
Syria has long been cited by the United States and Israel as posing a nuclear proliferation risk. Nonetheless, Damascus is not only a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) but also seems too cash-strapped to pursue such schemes.
In 1991, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEAI) blocked the sale of a 30-kilowatt Chinese research reactor to Syria. In 1995, US pressures got Argentina to renounce plans to provide Damascus with a reactor. It was eventually Russia who in 1998 signed an agreement with the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission on the provision of a 25-megawatt light-water nuclear research center. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )