SAWAQA, Jordan— U.S. plans to help the Kingdom of Jordan become the Arab world’s next nuclear power are raising alarms inside Israel.
The political goal is to promote the nonmilitary use of atomic energy and pressure rogue nuclear programs in Iran and Syria to become more transparent. The U.S. would win economically, too, in any nuclear-cooperation agreement with its closest Arab ally, because American firms could begin exporting nuclear components and know-how to the Mideast country.
“I believe nuclear energy in Jordan will be done in such a way where it is a public-private partnership so everyone can see exactly what’s going on,” Jordan’s King Abdullah II said in an interview. “If we can be the model of transparency, it will push others.”
But Colonel Uri Elezar of the Israel Security Service, known as the Shin Bet, believes the opposite will happen. “The U.S. will ignite a nuclear arms race in an already explosive Middle East and only only accelerate the mad march toward Armageddon.”
French contractors are already conducting feasibility studies outside the port city of Aqaba near the Israeli border for Jordan’s first nuclear-power reactor. Aqaba, however, lies close to a seismic fault line.
“The entire Jordan Valley is a web of seismic fault lines,” Elezar noted. “It has been for thousands of years. The last thing the world needs is a nuclear reactor here. A catastrophe could bring down not only the walls of Jericho but Jerusalem, Amman and whatever fragile peace exists in the Middle East.”