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Nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia within Vision 2030 Program: Prospects for nuclear energy cooperation and nonproliferation risks image

Saudi Arabia is considered a nuclear “newcomer”. Although Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program dates back to the 1960s, the kingdom has demonstrated significant interest in nuclear energy only over the last decade. The Saudi interest in the peaceful use of nuclear energy is due to several reasons, among w...

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The Security Index Occasional Paper Series came out with the new report «Nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia within Vision 2030 Program: Prospects for nuclear energy cooperation and nonproliferation risks»

24.02.2021

MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 24, 2021. PIR PRESS. The Security Index Occasional Paper Series came out with the paper «Nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia within Vision 2030 Program: Prospects for nuclear energy cooperation and nonproliferation risks» by Inna Rodina.

The research is devoted to the study of developing nuclear energy by one of the key Middle Eastern countries. It is divided into three sections: the driving factors for Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear power and non-proliferation concerns; the review of the nuclear energy suppliers to the Middle East; the Saudi Arabia-Russia cooperation and its prospects.

Key findings:

  • Although Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program dates back to the 1960s, the kingdom has demonstrated significant interest in nuclear energy only over the last decade.
  • The Middle East developments, especially the Iranian nuclear program, are the main factors that influence Saudi nuclear ambitions.
  • Developing nuclear energy requires Saudi Arabia to import know-how from nuclear supplier countries. However, without modification of the Small Quantities Protocol, the countries that Saudi Arabia has shortlisted as possible nuclear energy partners (the United States, China, France, South Korea, and Russia) are not likely to cooperate with the kingdom.
  • There are several reasons why the development of nuclear power is of interest to Saudi Arabia: the growing demand for electricity, prestige, the need to diversify the country’s economy, create an attractive investment environment, and increase employment.
  • Any kingdom’s partner in the field of nuclear energy has to take all possible precautions to close the Saudis access to the nuclear fuel cycle.
  • As the only country that returns spent nuclear fuel, Russia could contribute to the nuclear power advancement in Saudi Arabia and guarantee the peaceful nature of the kingdom’s nuclear energy program.

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