AMMAN, Nov. 9 (Kyodo) — Jordan will select the final vendor for its first nuclear power plant construction project by next March from between a Japan-French group and a Russian firm, the head of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said Thursday.

Commission Chairman Khaled Toukan said in an interview with Kyodo News that the Japan-French consortium Atomea and Russia's Atomstroyexport, which have been given priority negotiating rights for the project, are to submit final proposals by the end of this year.

Toukan said the reactor proposed by the consortium of Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and France's Areva "is very modern, and it has been designed based on the latest technology of industrial expertise in terms of safety."

He also pointed out as a weak point for the Japan-France proposal that the reactor is a new one that "never has been licensed before in Japan nor in France."

The Russian side has an operation record and meets safety requirements, Toukan said, but added, "Both parties have been on equal (footing)" so far.

The Jordanian government aims to put the power plant into operation in 2020. But the project has drawn opposition from local residents in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, northeastern Japan, hit by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

"When it comes to nuclear safety, there shouldn't be compromise. Nothing should be put under the carpet," Toukan said, adding that was the lesson learned from the crisis in Japan.

Toukan is scheduled to attend a ministerial conference on atomic safety to be held in Fukushima next month by the Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He said the Fukushima accident was of "unthinkable" scale and expressed hope to "learn exactly what's happening firsthand there."