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The risks of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power plans

The economic case for the strategy is strong but it could have regional implications, NICK BUTLER, 25 Mar 19

In normal circumstances, the decision by any country to improve the efficiency of its energy supplies by investing in new technology would barely be worthy of attention. But Saudi Arabia is not a normal country and the combination of the technology chosen — civil nuclear power — and concerns over the strategy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has made the Saudi move a cause of debate. The Saudi plans for nuclear development are not new. Eight years ago a target of building 16 reactors over 20 years was announced. The commitment has been regularly repeated since and updated to a new target of 17 gigawatts of capacity by 2032 or 2040 ……

the acquisition of civil nuclear reactors is complicated by politics and the fear that nuclear power and nuclear weapons are, as the Nobel Prize winner Hannes Alfvén once said, “Siamese twins”.

…….. this fear has been reinforced by comments made by the crown prince last March, when he said that while Saudi Arabia had no wish to become a nuclear weapons state if Iran got a nuclear bomb, the kingdom would too. …….

The dangers of a nuclear arms race in the region are well recognised in the US, Riyadh’s traditional ally. Recently, two senior US senators spoke out against the idea of the US selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and criticised the fact that a dialogue on the subject between Washington and Riyadh has been taking place without securing the congressional approval that is necessary for any nuclear transaction under US law. Although President Donald Trump may want to support the struggling American nuclear sector, cross-party congressional opposition looks strong enough to block any sales from the US, as long as the crown prince remains in office. …….


March 27, 2019 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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