Text size
related tags

Both Syria and Israel on Tuesday declared intentions to develop nuclear energy at an energy conference, during a summit in Paris.

"Israel is interested in being part of the circle of countries producing electricity from nuclear energy," Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said at the conference, while stressing its commitment to using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"In a region like the Middle East, we can only depend on ourselves. Building a nuclear reactor to produce electricity will allow Israel to develop energy independence," Landau said.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad, meanwhile, said his country too would like to pursue nuclear energy to meet growing energy needs.

According to Mekdad, the peaceful application of nuclear energy should not be monopolized by the few that own this technology but should be available to all.

Syria is looking at alternative energy sources, he said, including nuclear energy to meet growing demand for energy in his country, noting its growing population.

Israel already has two nuclear reactors - the Dimona facility in the southern desert, where it is widely assumed to have produced atomic weapons, and a research reactor, open to international inspection, at Nahal Soreq near Tel Aviv.

The ministry said Landau had discussed with French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo the possibility of cooperating on building a nuclear plant, together with neighboring Jordan. The project would be overseen by France and use its technology.

Borloo voiced "great interest" and promised to discuss the idea with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the ministry said.

In the 1950s, France helped Israel build the Dimona reactor, a project spearheaded by current Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Israel neither confirms nor denies having weapons of mass-destruction, under an "ambiguity" policy billed as warding off foes while avoiding provocations that can spark arms races.

Unlike other countries in the region, Israel has not signed the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which curbs the spread of nuclear technologies with bomb-making potential.

Yet Israel does have a delegation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN watchdog.

Landau's ministry would not provide immediate details on what treaties Israel envisaged applying to the proposed nuclear energy plant.