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Nuclear Power Plant in Israel Expected to Be Operating by 1984

Israel is to have a nuclear power plant in operation by 1984 which it is hoped will produce some 15 percent of its electricity requirements. The decision to go ahead with plans for the plant was taken by the Cabinet at its weekly meeting today. The plant will have a 600-megawatt capacity and will probably run on enriched uranium which Israel will purchase from the U.S.

Israel’s Electric Corporation signed a contract last year with the U.S. atomic energy authority enabling it to buy the vital fuel from the U.S. Following the Cabinet decision, the Electric Corporation will open concrete negotiations with a number of potential American suppliers to decide which of them is to be awarded the contract to build the plant.

When President Nixon visited the Mideast last June, he held out an offer to both Israel and Egypt of a nuclear power plant. But subsequent tentative negotiations with both states were shelved for various reasons and a top official said here today Israel’s planned plant was “not necessarily” connected with what was then Nixon’s offer.

The official, Ram Haviv of the Commerce and Industry Ministry, said Israel had been contemplating ordering a plant for some two years now–but initial planning had been delayed due to the Yom Kippur War. All the basic studies had now been completed, however, and following the Cabinet go-ahead, the Electric Corporation could embark on practical negotiations with suppliers.

The plant, he said, would probably be sited in Nitzanim, on the coast midway between Ashdod and Ashkelon. It had to be near the sea, he explained, because of the huge quantities of water needed for cooling.

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