Development of nuclear power in Saudi Arabia under the Saudi Vision 2030 Program

MOSCOW, DECEMBER 4, 2020. PIR PRESS. "The development of nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia is a forward-looking and important task. The State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom” has every chance to become one of the KSA’s key partners in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy because it already has extensive experience in working with nuclear newcomer countries in difficult climatic conditions with lack of the necessary infrastructure", ‒ Inna Rodina, PIR Center intern.

On November 9, 2020, PIR Center held one of its Midweek Brainstorming sessions. At the seminar, a second-year student of the Dual Degree Program in Nonproliferation Studies (MGIMO-MIIS-PIR Center) Inna Rodina presented the research paper “Development of nuclear power in Saudi Arabia under the Saudi Vision 2030 Program”, which was written during her internship at the PIR Center. Vladimir Orlov, Director of the PIR Center, was her research supervisor.

The paper touches upon several issues:

  • Energy trends in the Middle East;
  • Background and history of nuclear power development in Saudi Arabia;
  • Saudi Arabia's plans to develop nuclear energy;
  • Saudi Arabia as a threat to the nonproliferation regime: assessing the likelihood of the development of nuclear weapon by the KSA;
  • Saudi Arabia’s key partners in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
  • Russian nuclear industry: the history of presence in the Middle East, advantages of cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

To write her paper, the intern analyzed a large number of sources in Russian, English and Arabic languages. During her speech, Inna Rodina drew attention to the fact that Saudi Arabia has many projects aimed at development of nuclear energy within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030 Program. Inna stressed that Saudi Arabia participates in almost all the most important agreements in the field of nuclear security and nonproliferation. However, the KSA holds an uncertain position on replacing the IAEA Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) with the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. She also noted that despite suspicions about KSA’s desire to acquire the status of a Nuclear Power, it currently has insufficient infrastructure to create a nuclear weapon.

Inna Rodina noted that the advantages of the State Atomiс Energy Corporation Rosatom include extensive experience in building nuclear power plants in Russia and abroad, specialized programs that meet Saudi Arabia’s interests, and favorable prices. The absolute advantage of Russia is that it is the only state that is ready to fully accept the spent nuclear fuel supplied to it from the reactors it has built for the entire duration of its operation. This guarantees the solely peaceful nature of KSA’s nuclear program.

Participants of the Midweek Brainstorming session noted that the research was conducted at a high scientific level, and has an independent nature. The remote format of the event allowed to expand the audience and attract a wider range of specialists and even potential employers to the discussion.

Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador at Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2010-2017), noted that the intern managed to find, process, and structure all available information on the topic in such a short time. The paper reflects the real state of affairs.

During the discussion, Vladimir Artisyuk, Advisor to the Director-General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Andrey Baklitsky, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security at the MGIMO University and Consultant at PIR Center, Alexander Pavlov, Associate Professor of the Department of Molecular Physics at MEPhI, Sergey Ponamarev, Associate Professor of the RUDN University, also expressed their expert opinions. The experts pointed out that Inna’s research paper has a basis for further development and recommended ways to improve it.

For further information regarding the internship program at the PIR Center please follow the link or contact us by phone: +7 (499) 940-09-83, email: [email protected].