Algeria’s Slow March Toward Nuclear Energy

Algeria’s Slow March Toward Nuclear Energy
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sits on a wheelchair after taking oath as President, April 28, 2014, in Algiers (AP photo by Sidali Djarboub).

Earlier this month, Algeria and Russia signed a nuclear energy cooperation deal. In an email interview, Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Paris-based Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique (Foundation for Strategic Research), discussed Algeria’s nuclear program.

WPR: What is the current status of Algeria's civil nuclear program?

Bruno Tertrais: Algeria has had a nuclear research program for almost three decades. Algeria has two main research facilities: Draria, which hosts a small 1-MW reactor near Algiers, and Ain-Oussera, a 15-MW reactor in the Sahara desert south of Algiers. The country has had plans for nuclear power reactors for a long time. However, they have so far not been translated into concrete projects. Algeria’s current nuclear status can be compared to that of Egypt, a country often seen as a rival. However, Algiers is now fast developing its nuclear know-how and expertise.

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