by Hana Namrouqa | Feb 19, 2014

AMMAN — Badia residents and activists are planning to organise a march on Friday to express their rejection of the nuclear programme, activists said on Wednesday.

The march, which will be organised by the national anti-nuclear committee, will kick off from Al Husseini Mosque in downtown Amman to Al Nakheel Square in Ras Al Ain following Friday noon prayer, the committee’s spokesperson, Omar Shoshan, said.

“The march will express a unified will against and a rejection of the nuclear programme as a whole and a decision to build reactors in the Qusayr Amra area,” Shoshan said at a press conference to announce Friday’s march.

The nuclear programme will have destructive impacts on the economy, environment and society, Shoshan warned, underscoring that the negative effects of the programme will not only affect the badia, where the reactors will be constructed, but also the whole Kingdom.

“Consecutive governments have always neglected the badia in terms of providing basic health, education and employment opportunities and now they decide to build their reactors there. We will work to stop this,” he said.

The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission announced plans last year for constructing twin reactors in the Qusayr Amra region near Azraq, some 60 kilometres east of Amman, but activists and tribesmen of the area rejected the plans, warning that the project threatens one of the country’s largest underground water sources and the livelihoods of thousands of citizens.

Shoshan said that march supports the “Amra is Umayyad, not nuclear” campign, which was launched late last year. Qusayr Amra is an archaeological site that houses the former desert palace of Umayyad Caliph Walid II and is inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

In addition to threats posed to early Islamic archaeology and the aquifers of nearby Azraq, opponents say the reactors threaten to disrupt the lives of tens of thousands who rely on the land surrounding the planned nuclear site for livestock grazing and agricultural use.

Atomic energy officials said they selected the site due to its proximity to the Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is to provide the projected reactors with millions of cubic metres of water monthly for cooling, and its distance from large population centres.

Fawzi Jubour, head of the national anti-nuclear committee, said during the press conference that the nuclear programme is another “adventure and a new chapter in the country’s administrative and financial corruption”.

Jubour underscored that badia residents will march in Amman on Friday to announce “that they will no longer be obedient and tolerant”.

In October, the government announced that it had selected Russian state-owned firm Rosatom as its preferred vendor to construct two 1,000-megawatt reactors by 2021.

Officials hailed the planned reactors — set to meet 40 per cent of the country’s projected electricity demand — as an end to chronic energy woes in Jordan, which imports over 97 per cent of its energy needs at a cost of one-fifth of the gross domestic product.