On September 21, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Russia’s state-owned Rosatom State Corporation and the Atomic Energy Commission of Syria on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference. Per the agreement, the two sides will cooperate in the field of non-energy applications of nuclear technology in areas such as medicine, agriculture, and industry. The agreement also stipulates collaboration in the training of administrative, scientific, and technical personnel in these fields.
The MoU builds on indications from Russian and Syrian authorities earlier this month that the two sides will “seek to enhance cooperation in various fields,” in an effort to counter Syria’s economic isolation due to Western sanctions. A proposed cooperation agreement under consideration by the Syrian government reportedly stipulates the implementation of approximately 40 projects, with a particular emphasis on energy sector cooperation.
Since entering the Syrian conflict as a critical ally of the Assad regime, Moscow has made economic forays into Syria’s strategic sectors, gaining reportedly preferential treatment for major contracts, particularly in the petrochemical and infrastructure sectors. In December 2019, Russia pledged $500 million in investments for the development of the Port of Tartus, which was handed over to Russian state-linked company, Stroytransgaz, under a 49-year concession agreement. Earlier in 2018, a roadmap agreement on industrial sector engagement was signed between the two countries.