Israel denies blocking Jordan nuclear program

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli officials Wednesday roundly denied charges by Jordan's King Abdullah II that the Jewish state was seeking to foil Amman's nuclear energy program.

"Israel supports the use of nuclear power in Jordan to meet its energy and water needs and has never acted against the Jordanian program," an Israeli official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel could even be a potential customer for any electricity produced in Jordan through nuclear energy, he said.

"Israel has a potential interest in purchasing electricity produced by Jordanian reactors," he added.

Israel's backing for such a program was confirmed by another official.

"Every time we were consulted on this, we adopted a positive approach," he told AFP, also declining to be named.

"The king's accusations sound (like) a hollow excuse.

"We were consulted and we always said that of course, if this was done according to NPT regulations and supervision and everything, then fine, we have no objection."

Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, is not a signatory to the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which regulates nuclear activity.

Jordan's king leveled the accusations at Israel earlier Wednesday in an exclusive interview with AFP.

"Strong opposition to Jordan's nuclear energy program is coming from Israel," he said.

"A Jordanian delegation would approach a potential partner, and one week later an Israeli delegation would be there, asking our interlocutors not to support Jordan's nuclear energy bid," Abdullah said during the interview at his palace.

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is struggling to find alternatives to Egyptian gas, which normally covers 80 percent of its power needs.

Since 2011, the Egyptian gas pipeline supplying both Israel and Jordan has been attacked by militants in Sinai 14 times, which has caused a consequent disruption of supplies.





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