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Saudi Arabia resists IAEA’s inspection regime, as it completes its first nuclear reactor

Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactor nearly finished, sparking fears over safeguards, Riyadh has so far resisted international watchdog’s requests to accept a strict inspection regime, Guardian, Julian Borger in Washington 4 Apr 2019 

Saudi Arabia is within months of completing its first nuclear reactor, new satellite images show, but it has yet to show any readiness to abide by safeguards that would prevent it making a bomb.

The reactor site is in the King Abdulaziz city for science and technology on the outskirts of Riyadh. The site was identified by Robert Kelley, a former director for nuclear inspections at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said it was very small 30-kilowatt research reactor, not far from completion.

“I would guess they could have it all done, with the roof in place and the electricity turned on, within a year,” said Kelley, who worked for more than three decades in research and engineering in the US nuclear weapons complex………

Before inserting nuclear fuel into the reactor, Saudi Arabia would have to implement a comprehensive set of rules and procedures, including IAEA inspections, designed to ensure no fissile material was diverted for use in weapons – something it has so far avoided

The reactor has been designed by an Argentinian state-owned company, Invap SE……..Saudi Arabia joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1988 but signed a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA only in 2005, and at the same time exempted itself from regular inspections, by signing a “small quantities protocol” (SQP), designed for countries with negligible quantities of nuclear material.

Largely because of controversy over Riyadh being shielded from scrutiny under these rules, the IAEA made the SQP more rigorous, but the Saudis resisted making changes…….. https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/04/saudi-arabias-first-nuclear-reactor-nearly-finished-sparking-fears-over-safeguards?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=tru

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April 6, 2019 - Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia

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