Details of the Yemeni nuclear power aspirations reveal shocking findingsYemen’s Big-time Nuclear Fraud? [Archives:2007/1091/Business & Economy]

October 4 2007

Investigated by: Raidan Al-Saqqaf
[email protected]

Just when the US Millennium Challenge Corporation expressed faith in the Yemeni government and applauding its recent reforms, shocking developments on the political arena by decision makers indicated that Transparency International was probably right when it dropped Yemen 20 ranks, from the 111th rank to the 131st in its 2007 Corruption Perception Index.

It all started over a year ago during the publicity campaign of President Saleh for the September 2006 presidential elections, when he first declared that Yemen had nuclear ambitions. “We will generate electricity using nuclear technology” President Saleh said at the time.
rnFollowing that declaration, Mustapha Bahran -head of the Yemeni National Atomic Energy Agency, promoted the idea in his speeches and media events, stressing that nuclear power in Yemen is doable either through outsourcing a nuclear reactor or building one on-shore. The nuclear publicity campaign continued until Bahran got promoted to the post of the Minister of Electricity, and, eventually, inked an agreement with a U.S. based company to construct Yemen's first nuclear reactors in late September.

Bahran said in a speech at Hadhramout University last month that Nuclear energy is the future, adding that there are 435 nuclear power stations in the world providing over 370 thousand mega watts. In other speeches and media interviews Bahran was keen to boast the benefits of nuclear energy in Yemen claiming that it would not only kiss Yemen's electricity problems goodbye, but may well solve Yemen's water crisis, improve reproductive health, help kids do better in school, grow industry and promote investments. In brief, he labeled nuclear energy as the remedy for all Yemen's problems.

The $ 15 billion deal

On the 24th of September, Yemen signed the $15 billion deal with the Houston-based Powered Corporation presumably to construct five nuclear reactors in Yemen during the span of 10 years, after which the plants would produce a total of five thousand megawatts of electric power. After alleged consultations with Powered Corporation, Bahran stated that the construction of the first nuclear reactor would take four years, and that it would be a state-of-the-art facility approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, Bahran was exceptionally careful about revealing any of the details of the $15 billion deal, in spite of being known as an articulate personality in not hesitating to communicate with the press. Fellow Washington DC-based journalist Munir Al-Mawiri was the first reporter to analyze the issue and expose potential motives that may have prevented Minister Bahran from revealing explicit details. In an article first published at MarebPress.Net just five days after the agreement was signed