The New Arab Staff
Iraq’s Saddam-era nuclear plant at Tuwaitha was destroyed in the Gulf War [Getty]
Date of publication: 24 September, 2020
Iraq is ‘looking forward to restoring its position in nuclear science, which it occupied in the 1970s and 1980s’, said the head of the country’s nuclear body
The office of the Iraqi prime minister has ordered the formation of a committee to build nuclear reactors for research purposes, the Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority (IRSRA) said on Thursday.
The head of the authority, Kamal Hussein Latif, told the national Iraqi News Agency (INA) that Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi “is aware of the importance of the issue of atomic energy”, having discussed it in a recent meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Latif added that Iraq is “looking forward to restoring its position in nuclear science, which it occupied in the 1970s and 1980s”, highlighting a recent resolution by the UN Security Council in support of Iraq’s renewed work in the nuclear field and its potential peaceful benefits.
The reactors will be able to help produce medical isotopes and pharmaceuticals, in addition to having agricultural and industrial applications such as seed irradiation, nuclear insect sterilisation for pest control, and the production of radioactive isotopes with various industrial benefits, Latif explained.
He estimated the construction process for the reactor would take approximately five years.
Latif added that the project would be a boon for Iraqi employment, providing training and work opportunities and help the oil-rich country move away from its dependency on fossil fuels for energy.
“Nuclear energy is an issue of the utmost national importance that can benefit the future of Iraq for generations,” Latif concluded in his statement.
Iraq’s previous nuclear power reactors, built during Saddam Hussein’s rule, were destroyed almost thirty years ago.
The country had three reactors in Tuwaitha, its main nuclear research site located south of Baghdad.
One was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 1981, and the other two by US strikes during the 1991 Gulf war following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait the previous year.