At a meeting in Cairo in early February, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Russia and Egypt concluded a preliminary agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Egypt.
According to a project development agreement signed by Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom, and Egypt's Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker, Rosatom will construct four latest-generation nuclear power plant units that include enhanced safety systems developed after the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.
All the necessary agreements and contracts are expected to be signed before the end of the year.
"In a very short period of time, we need to prepare for the signing of two intergovernmental agreements - one on nuclear power plant construction and one on financing. During the negotiations, we have been set the task to perform at maximum speed, and Rosatom is ready for that,” Kiriyenko said, according to World Nuclear News.
"Russia has plenty of experience it can share with Egypt. It will allow to satisfy the needs of Egypt in electric energy,” al-Sisi said during the visit.
The deal is an important one for Rosatom because Egypt is traditionally an ally of the United States, and Rosatom’s main competition on the world market comes from American nuclear companies.
According to independent nuclear power expert Alexander Uvarov, however, the nuclear power deal between Russia and Egypt is unlikely to affect the bigger picture of geopolitical interests in the region.
"The risk that Cairo will reject allied relations with the United States because of the Russian nuclear technology is miniscule," Uvarov said.
One more partner in the Middle East
Rosatom is already actively cooperating with other countries in the Middle East. In September 2014, the company signed an agreement with Jordan to work on the construction of nuclear power plants in the province of Zarqa.
The Russian firm is planning to build two power plants with a total capacity of 2,000 MW at the Jordanian site. At the moment, a feasibility study of the project and environmental impact assessment are underway.
Russia’s cooperation with Iran on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is well known. Last year, industry publication Power Engineering named the first unit of the Bushehr power plant its “project of the year” for 2014 in the nuclear power category. The first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India was recognized as the runner-up in the project of the year competition.
Both units were built by Rosatom subsidiary Atomstroyexport from a Russian design.
"Our foreign colleagues, including the German nuclear scientists, were without exaggeration stunned by the fact that Rosatom still managed to finish and put into operation the first Iranian block. Many believed that it was impossible to do and that the project was only political PR for Iran and Russia," Atomstroyexport Vice President Vladimir Pavlov told RBTH.
In November 2014, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran signed a new agreement with Moscow under which eight nuclear reactors of Russian design will be built Iran as a "turnkey" project, in which a power plant is sold to a utility after completion. It was the largest nuclear power agreement between the two countries to date.
As part of the agreement, four units will be built at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, and the other four at another location, which has not yet been selected.
According to Rosatom representatives, global fears over Iran’s nuclear development does not concern Russia’s nuclear projects in Iran because they are purely peaceful and do not involve the transfer of any dual-use technology to Iran. Moreover, the projects are implemented under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and are not affected by international sanctions.
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