New joint military exercises with Russia proposed as Dabaa nuclear power plant negotiations progress

Negotiations have progressed between Egypt and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom regarding the construction of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, with a Russian delegation expected to visit Cairo within days. A unit of Russian paratroopers also arrived in Egypt this week, following the conclusion of joint military drills earlier this month, marking furthering developments in military cooperation between the two states.

The Russian Defense Ministry issued an official statement on Monday announcing the arrival of a delegation of airborne troops on an official visit to Egypt to discuss the present state of bilateral military cooperation, and plans for the future.

The talks reportedly focused on conducting joint parachuting drills and it was also announced that the delegation, which is scheduled to depart November 30, would be visiting the Egyptian military camps used to train paratroopers.

On November 11 the Russian Defense Ministry announced that its troops would take part in large-scale military exercises with the Egyptian Armed Forces, dubbed ‘Guardians of Friendship 2016,’ purportedly an opportunity to train troops in counter-terrorism operations in a desert environment. Drills included the parachute-dropping of Russian tanks and military vehicles in the desert.

On Monday Egypt’s state-owned Middle East News Agency also reported on the ongoing negotiations surrounding the establishment of a nuclear power station in the town of Dabaa. The agency quotes Russian Trade Representative to Cairo Lukashin Fyodor Aleksandrovich as saying that talks between the Egyptian government and Russian state-owned Rosatom Corporation are nearing completion, including agreements on the construction of the station, fuel supply, the provision of technical support and recycling the resulting nuclear waste.

According to Aleksandrovich all the financial and legal provisions for the power plant have been discussed, and Rosatom is in the process of reviewing the technical data, noting that it will provide its Egyptian counterpart with detailed blueprints of the site for approval. He added that the signing of the final contract for the project could be concluded by next month.

Citing unnamed sources, an article published in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper on Tuesday reports that a Russian delegation will visit Cairo within the next few days to discuss the final technical details for the plant’s construction ahead of the contract signing.

According to the sources final negotiations were temporarily stalled due to a technical difference between the two states, leading to the initial signing of a limited contract, pending the finalization of the full contract.

The Egyptian government and Rosatom have tentatively agreed to build a plant with a capacity of 4800 megawatts, the engineering, operation and maintenance of which will be overseen by Russia for the next 10 years.

It is expected that Egypt will receive a 13-year loan from Russia amounting to US$25 billion, which is intended to cover 85 percent of the total construction costs, with an annual interest rate of 3 percent.

The privately owned Al-Borsa Newspaper quoted an official from the Nuclear Power Plants Authority, who spoke about plans for the construction of another two nuclear power stations in the town of Negeela, Matrouh, each with a capacity of 1400 megawatts.

The official also noted that the Nuclear Power Plants Authority will conduct studies over a two-year period, during which it will hold talks with the Governorate of Matrouh, regarding the allocation of 30 square kilometers for the project, which could commence after the completion of the Dabaa station.

They stated that the authority has already received three offers from South Korea, China and France for the construction of the station, but that Egypt prefers to do so “via an open and public tender so as to receive more offers.”


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