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JORDAN - Jan 19 - Jordan Weighs Nuclear Programme.

Jordan becomes the latest Middle East state to announce it is investigating the creation of a civil nuclear programme. King Abdullah told Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper that the changing political climate in the region had prompted him to consider alternative energy means. "The Egyptians are looking for a nuclear programme", he said. "The GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] are looking at one and we are actually looking at nuclear power for peaceful and energy purposes. We've been discussing it with the west". His comments were made amid mounting concern among regional Sunni states such as Jordan, as well as in Israel and the west, about Iran's nuclear ambitions. At the end of December the UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology, fearing its uranium enrichment programme could be used to produce nuclear weapons. Shi'ite Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful. King Abdullah said he did not want to see a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, saying international regulations should be applied. Israel is the only nuclear power in the region although it refuses to acknowledge possession of nuclear weapons under a policy known as "nuclear ambiguity". It merely pledges not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region. Other Arab countries looking towards future nuclear capability include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE. According to the IAEA, Jordan is conducting a feasibility study on a nuclear power programme. King Abdullah said last summer's war between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbullah Islamist movement, backed by Iran, had changed the outlook. "The rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region. Where I think Jordan was saying 'we'd like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area', after this summer everybody's going for nuclear programmes". Pro-western Jordan is surrounded by conflict zones including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel-Palestine.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7JORD
Date:Jan 19, 2007
Previous Article:ISRAEL - Jan 16 - Israeli Military Chief Quits Over Lebanon.
Next Article:PALESTINE - Jan 14 - Abbas Rules Out Plan For Interim State.

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