Abdullah: Israel Keeping Jordan From Developing Peaceful Nuclear Program

Jordan's king tells Wall Street Journal that Israel asked France, South Korea not to sell nuclear technology to Jordan. 'Israelis must mind their business,' he says.

Jordan's King Abdullah accused Israel on Tuesday of trying to prevent his kingdom from developing a peaceful nuclear program, aimed at producing energy.

King Abdullah II of Jordan delivering a speech in Amman

The king revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that Israel had approached South Korea and France with requests to refrain from selling Jordan nuclear technology. Israel's "underhanded" actions are adding tension to already strained relations with Jordan, bringing ties between the two countries to their lowest point since they signed a peace agreement in 1994, the king said.

"There are countries, Israel in particular," Abdullah told the Wall Street Journal, "that are more worried about us being economically independent than the issue of nuclear energy, and have been voicing their concerns."

"There are many such reactors in the world and a lot more coming, so [the Israelis must] go mind their own business," he added.

Israeli officials denied any action to prevent Jordan from developing nuclear energy.

Jordan is planning to erect four nuclear reactors within its territory and is currently negotiating the issue with South Korea, France and the U.S. The country currently most likely to aid Jordan's nuclear endeavor is the U.S.

Enormous deposits of uranium ore have been recently discovered in the deserts near Amman, and Jordan plans to utilize them. However, the U.S. is demanding that Amman not produce its own nuclear fuel, and is conditioning the sale of nuclear reactors on Jordan's purchase of nuclear fuel in the global market.

Jordan argues that as a signatory of the United National key nonproliferation treaty, it has a right to produce its own nuclear fuel, and is reluctant to relinquish this right as it plans to use the uranium deposits to boost Jordan's economy.

According to Jordan, any attempt to force it not to utilize its own uranium would violate the treaty and harm its economic interests. Jordan's economic vision is to export both uranium and electricity produced in nuclear reactors to neighboring countries such as Syria or Iraq.