Saudi Arabia looks to progress with its nuclear power plans
Saudi Arabia has gone into this year with a continued focus on proceeding with its ambitious nuclear power plans. Saudi Arabia is currently in discussions with ten countries that could support the advancement of its plans should the US refuse to offer this support.
Figure: Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir
Working with the US in the nuclear industry can only happen for countries that have agreed and signed the 123 agreement. This is an agreement that emphasises the clear difference between nuclear technology for civil and military purposes and creates a binding agreement to only utilise technology for civil purposes.
The Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir has made it quite clear that Saudi Arabia has no interest at all in utilising nuclear technology for military purposes. Despite this clarification, it seems unlikely at present that Saudi Arabia will sign the 123 agreement and is currently looking for alternative suppliers.
The current nuclear plan for the Kingdom includes the development of 16 nuclear power plants within a space of twenty years. The total cost of this project will be in the region of $80 billion USD. Saudi Arabia is currently using about a quarter of its oil production domestically. The World Nuclear Association recently emphasised that population growth and energy demands are increasing rapidly, oil production is unlikely to rise at any significant rate. The kingdom has started to make significant plans to expand its energy portfolio, including a strong focus on the solar industry as well as implementing the new nuclear plans.
Al-Jubeir highlighted to media that whilst they are in discussions with various countries, they have not made a decision yet in regards to which path will be taken and which country will become the core focus. Al-Jubeir also refused to highlight what steps would be taken by Saudi Arabia if the US does refuse to support the nuclear program, emphasising their objective is to have the same rights as other nations.
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