Egypt to sign deal with Russia for first nuclear power plant

Egypt and a Russian company are due to sign an agreement regarding the Dabaa nuclear power station project on Thursday, presidential sources announced. 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will witness the signing between Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority and Russia’s Rosatom company. 

Rosatom discussed the potential agreement for Egypt’s first power plant project, which Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said was a strategic sector for Russian-Egyptian cooperation, with Sisi when he visited Moscow in August.

Medvedev said that Russia would the project through advanced power units, as well as safety systems similar to those they have designed in Iran, China and India. They also plan to offer training and education for Egyptian personnel who will work at the new plant. 

Rosatom is represented in Thursday’s official agreement by its president, Sergei Kirienko, who arrived in Cairo on a private jet, according to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.

According to presidential sources, Russia will cover 80 percent of the four-unit plant’s construction costs and will be reimbursed after the plant becomes operational. The remaining 20 percent is to be financed by Egypt. 

The signing comes on the heels of a recent announcement by the Kremlin that a terrorist attack was the reason for the crash of a Metrojet Russian airliner in Egypt shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

Egyptian officials said there is no conclusive evidence the incident was a terrorist attack. Signs of diplomatic tensions surfaced when Russia banned incoming EgyptAir flights and suspended its passenger flights to Egypt.

Head of the Egyptian-Russian Institute for Culture and Sciences Hussein al-Shafei told Mada Masr the deal is the culmination of ongoing discussions and is not related to the plane crash. He explained that Russian delegations have been working on the final details of the agreement for a while.

Shafei said this deal trumped other proposals, as Egypt will manufacture and fund 25 percent of the first unit and 35 percent of the second unit locally in return for a technological transfer. Russia will take care of the remaining expenses, he added, which will be reimbursed from the revenue the plant generates. 

Production will begin in five years, guaranteeing Egypt’s energy needs and fueling local development projects, he asserted.

According to Shafei, similar projects have been executed in China, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and negotiations are underway for Saudi Arabia.

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