The Iraqi Radioactive Sources Regulatory Authority said on 22 April that it is holding talks with Russia, France and the USA to discuss the prospect of building nuclear reactors for civil application. The head of the authority, Kamal Hussein Latif, said in an interview with the Iraqi News Agency that several preliminary meetings had been held by the government committee on building nuclear reactors for research purposes to study the feasibility of installing a nuclear reactor, in accordance with guidelines set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The meetings were accompanied by two visits to the Russian embassy in Baghdad. The meetings with Russian officials resulted in a memorandum of understanding, which includes a number of items that will expedite the construction of the reactors, Latif said, adding that another set of meetings was scheduled with the French embassy in Baghdad. "Our French counterparts are eager to work with Iraq in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and we are waiting to obtain full approval before releasing more details on this cooperation," he said.
The head of the authority added that a meeting with US officials had been requested through an authorised high-level delegation and other government agencies. "We are looking for common ground with our partners in this preliminary phase that precedes the bidding stage," he said. He also hinted at the existence of a plan, yet to be presented to the government, which details the costs of building nuclear reactors. If approved, its details will be made public, Latif said.
Saaran Al-Aajibi, a member of the Parliamentary Security and Defence Committee, said he was hopeful Iraq will build nuclear reactors similar to those of its neighbours. He told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that the reactors would be for peaceful purposes, saying that nuclear power was used in many countries to produce electricity and power industrial sites.
In 1981, during the rule of former President Saddam Hussein, Israeli airstrikes destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor that was constructed with French help southeast of Baghdad. While Aajibi emphasised the benefits of new nuclear reactors he said that that the infrastructure required will put a strain on the government’s finances.
Electricity shortages have plagued Iraq for decades due to the destruction of infrastructure over years of conflict and rampant corruption.
The UAE has four nuclear power reactors under construction, the first of which came online last year. Egypt, Turkey and Jordan are also pursuing the development of nuclear energy, while Iran's has one power reactor in operation and another under construction.