Saudi Arabia announces it wants to go nuclear

Saudi Arabia announces it wants to go nuclear – stoking fears that Iran’s flouting of deal will start arms race in region

  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told energy conference in Abu Dhabi
  • Plans to open up tender for first two new nuclear reactors in the Gulf state 
  • MBS has said that Saudi would seek to enrich to weapons grade if Shia Iran did
  •  Comes as Iran begins enriching uranium passed 2015 JCPOA agreement levels

Saudi Arabia wants to enrich uranium in the future to fuel its planned nuclear power programme, its energy minister said on Monday, a sensitive step that could complicate US companies’ involvement in the plan.

The world’s top oil exporter has said it wants to use the metal to diversify its energy mix, but uranium enrichment also opens up the possibility of military uses of the material, the issue at the heart of Western and regional concerns over Iran’s atomic work.

‘We are proceeding with it cautiously … we are experimenting with two nuclear reactors,’ Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said, referring to a plan to issue a tender for the Gulf Arab state’s first two nuclear power reactors.

Newly appointed Saudi Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman (pictured here at the World Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi), has declared his country’s desire to tender for two nuclear power reactors in the midst of the US-Iran spat which limits the Islamic Republic’s uranium usage

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman can be seen embracing his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after giving his oath at the Red Sea port of Jedda. He told an energy conference that Saudi Arabia planned to go ahead with the full cycle of the nuclear programme, including the enrichment of uranium for fuel

He told an energy conference in Abu Dhabi that ultimately the kingdom wanted to go ahead with the full cycle of the nuclear programme, including the production and enrichment of uranium for fuel.

The tender is expected in 2020, with US, Russian, South Korean, Chinese and French firms involved in preliminary talks about the multi-billion-dollar project.

But the issue of uranium enrichment has been a sticking point with Washington, especially after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2018 that the Sunni Muslim kingdom would develop nuclear arms if regional rival Shi’ite Muslim Iran did.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, pictured left, can be seen at the unveiling of the surface to surface Fateh-313 missile or, Conqueror Missile. US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal which sought to limit Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear warhead. The Islamic Republic has recently declared that it will begin to enrich uranium passed the deal’s limits

A general view of the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, southern Iran. Iran has passed the limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by exceeding of 300kg that was set in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal made with world powers

Saudi Arabia has backed President Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Iran after he withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear pact that curbed Iran’s disputed nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

In order for US companies to compete for Saudi Arabia’s project, Riyadh would normally need to sign an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear technology with Washington, under the United States Atomic Energy Act.

Saudi officials have said they would not sign a deal that would deprives the kingdom of the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel in the future – both potential paths to a bomb


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