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Cablegate: Moroccan Nuclear Energy Plans

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #1187 3581521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231521Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9478
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS RABAT 001187

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR ISN/SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NONPROLIFERATION/M HUMPHREY
STATE ALSO FOR EEB AND NEA/MAG
COMMERCE FOR S LOPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY BEXP BTIO MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCAN NUCLEAR ENERGY PLANS

REF: A. STATE 127423
B. RABAT 1109

1. (SBU) In response to Ref A request for an overview of
Morocco's nuclear energy plans, Post notes Ref B reporting
discussions held during the November 16-18 visit to Morocco
of Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, the Secretary's Special Envoy
for Nuclear Nonproliferation. Ambassador Wolcott discussed
Morocco's nuclear energy plans and preparations with the
Minister of Energy, officials of Morocco's National
Electricity Office (ONE), the Director of the National Center
of Nuclear Energy, Sciences and Techniques (CNESTEN), and
officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
The Government of Morocco (GOM) believes that given
Morocco's constraints (96 percent dependent on imported
energy sources, with electricity consumption growing at 8
percent per year), nuclear power is nearly inevitable as a
solution to its energy needs. For decades the Ministry of
Energy and CNESTEN have been preparing the legal, regulatory
and technical base that eventually will be required. ONE
believes that nuclear energy would be cost-competitive with
other sources of electricity in the near future and is
preparing to issue a request for proposals for a nuclear
power plant to be built and operated as an independent power
producer (IPP) with a guaranteed purchase contract.

2. (SBU) Regarding specific Ref A questions, much of
Morocco's legal and regulatory framework for nuclear issues
is currently in flux. Draft legislation dealing with nuclear
technology and safety will (perhaps in 2009) revamp the
decentralized regulatory responsibilities for matters
involving nuclear materials and safety currently partitioned
among the Ministries of Energy, Industry and Health, and will
create a sole nuclear regulatory body. Ultimately, decisions
on proceeding with nuclear power plants will lie with a
national council on nuclear energy consisting of the Prime
Minister, and the Ministers of Energy, Health, Industry,
Agriculture, and Environment (the current Minister of Energy
is also Minister of Environment).

3. (SBU) As noted in Ref B, other countries (notably France)
have also engaged the Government of Morocco in discussions on
nuclear energy with an eye to commercial advocacy, but as yet
Morocco has signed no agreements. Post recommends USTDA
attention (such as an orientation visit to the U.S. of
Moroccan officials) to ensure that any Moroccan decisions on
civil nuclear energy benefit from exposure to U.S.
technologies and suppliers.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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