Egypt's Nuclear Power Plant Deal with Russia

Sarah Min
May 30, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018

Egypts Nuclear History

Fig. 1: El-Dabaa, pictured on this map, is the location of Egypt's first attempted nuclear power plant in 2012. As per the nuclear deal between Egypt and Russia, Russia will build a nuclear power plant in this city. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Egypt's nuclear history began when it first developed a 2 MW reactor that was purchased from the Soviet Union in 1954. [1] The reactor was created under the leadership of President Gamaal Abdel-Nasser, who pioneered its establishment in the Nile Delta.

With a vision of growing Egypt's nuclear technologies, President Nasser founded the Egyptian Atomic Energy Commission, now the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority. In 1975, the United States agreed to supply Egypt with 8 nuclear power plants. This was overseen by a trilateral safeguards agreement involving the US, Egypt, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. When the US independently changed the terms of the agreement in 1976, Egypt decided to finally ratify the NPT.

In 1976, the Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPAA) was created, and the government started crafting plans to develop ten reactors with 7200 MWe capacity by 1999. In 2007, President Mubarak revealed his plans to build four nuclear power plants to generate electricity. In 2012, the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Energy supported this initiative by publishing a report that stated that Egypt's current energy-providing infrastructures did not have the capacity to adequately respond to electricity demands. It posited that there was a yearly increase of 300 MW of demand, and that Egypt needed to explore alternate sources of energy.

When the construction of Egypt's first nuclear power plant started in Dabaa (shown in Fig. 1), however, the city's locals looted radioactive sources and destroyed what was being built. In 2013, Egypt rekindled efforts to build a nuclear power plant in Dabaa and requeted Russia to be the one to finance the project. Thus began Egypts relationship with Russia regarding nuclear power development.

The Nuclear Deal

The Egypt-Russia nuclear deal was announced by both the president of Russia, Vladmir Putin, and the president of Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, on February 10, 2015. After a series of meetings and negotiations, the nuclear deal was finally signed on December 11, 2017. [2] According to the final signing, Russias Rosatom Corporation is to build a nuclear power plant at El-Dabaa. The plant will consist of 4 light-water reactors, each producing 1,200 MW of power. It is expected that the building will be completed by 2028 or 2029, and the first trials runs will be possible starting around 2022. In addition to the power plants, Russia is to build factories that build nuclear power plant components, in Egypt.

The total cost of the nuclear deal is estimated at $30 billion. Russia will lend Egypt $25 billion, which will be repaid over the course over 35 years. Egypt will repay the loan at an interest rate of 3% annually. The first installment payment will begin in October of 2029. [3]

According to Sosinen Gregory Ivanovich, vice president of Russia's Atomic Energy Corporation, the nuclear plant is going to be the safest in the world. There is to be a great number of jobs that will be created from this project. An estimated 15,000 people will be employed to work in the Dabaa plant, of which 15% will be Russian and 85% will be Egyptian. The construction of the power plant is going to be carried out across 54 months, and the plant will be in use for over 90 years.

Although the nuclear deal is going to respond to increasingly unmet demands for electricity and provide jobs for Egyptians, there are many in Egypt that don't approve of the nuclear deal. [2] Some believe that it will discourage tourism, some object to the environmental damage, and some believe that the land has been stolen from them. Regardless, the deal has been set in place and is scheduled to be carried out and completed in the near future. The deal will assist with electricity production, but some wonder whether it will open doors to nuclear weapon production as well.

© Sarah Min. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] S. Shay, The Egypt Russia Nuclear Deal," Institute for Policy and Strategy, November 2015.

[2] R. Ofek, "Egypt's Nuclear Deal with Russia," The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Perspectives Paper No. 710, January 2017.

[3] T. Saker, "Dabaa Nuclear Plant Will Be World's safest: Ros Atom Vice President," Egypt Independent, 17 Dec 17.