Revealed: Inside Jordan’s first nuclear research reactor via The National

The National visits the Jordan Research and Training Reactor, which produces radioactive isotopes for industrial applications.

The walls inside the cavernous main hall of the Jordan Research and Training Reactor are painted yellow, but the water filling the 10-metre-deep pool in the centre of the room gives off the electric blue glow characteristic of these units.

The water is demineralised to prevent it from becoming radioactive and to reduce the risk of corrosion to the structures that house this plant’s key feature: uranium material located, out of sight and encased in aluminium, in the pool’s eerie depths.

The National was given access into the nuclear training facility that is the country’s first, and the first unit exported by South Korea.

During the visit, the reactor is shut down, but since this plant went “critical” – meaning it moved into a configuration in which nuclear fission could occur and be maintained on its own – for the first time in April last year, a minimum number of staff must be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including at least two people in the main control room.


Instead, as its name suggests, the JRTR has a different focus: to assist in nuclear industry research; produce radioactive isotopes for industrial applications and medical research and diagnostics; and for training personnel in nuclear operations. This last function will be critical as Jordan builds full-scale nuclear plants for electricity generation.


In addition, with nuclear power remaining highly controversial – environmental groups such as Greenpeace have raised concerns about Jordan’s nuclear ambitions – it is hoped that the reactor, and in particular its ability to produce medically useful isotopes, will contribute to a change in attitudes.

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