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Saudi quest to become a nuclear player is coming up short

Bloomberg News | April 5, 2023

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to break into the ranks of global uranium suppliers — and feed a nascent nuclear power program — are coming up short, with exploration investments failing to find any significant deposits of the heavy metal.

The amount worth developing is smaller than that found in Botswana, Tanzania or the US, according to an assessment published by the Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency. This is the first time the Saudi government submitted data for the biennial Red Book, which is used by geologists prospecting for the commodity that fuels nuclear reactors

Saudi Arabia has spent more than $37 million since 2017 searching for deposits but only managed to identify reserves that would be “severely uneconomic” to mine, the report said. 

…………………… Saudi Arabia didn’t respond to requests for comment.

………………………. Yellowcake prices have declined in recent decades because of plant shutdowns and public concern over nuclear power. Global expenditures on exploration of about $350 million are near 10-year lows, according to the Red Book………………………….


April 6, 2023 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Inside Saudi Arabia’s Global Push for Nuclear Power

Despite qualms in Washington, Saudi officials have pressed the United States to help them develop nuclear power. But they are also exploring other options, including China.

NY Times, By Edward WongVivian Nereim and Kate Kelly, This article was reported from Washington and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. April 1, 2023

For years, Saudi Arabia has pressed the United States to help it develop a nuclear energy program, as Saudi leaders look beyond oil to power their country.

But talks about a nuclear partnership have dragged on, largely because the Saudi government refuses to agree to conditions that are intended to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons or helping other nations do so, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.

Frustrated Saudi officials are now exploring options to work with other countries, including China, Russia or a U.S. ally.

At the same time, they are renewing a push with the United States — their preferred partner — by offering to try to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for U.S. cooperation on building nuclear reactors and other guarantees.

New details of the Saudi efforts provide a window into the recent difficulties and distrust between Washington and Riyadh, and into the foreign policy that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pursuing: greater independence from the United States as he expands partnerships with other world powers, including China……………

The Saudi nuclear efforts raise a specter of proliferation that makes some American officials nervous: Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has said that Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does. Any civilian nuclear program has dual-use elements that could aid a country in producing weapons-grade material.

…………………………………………………………….. Saudi officials have refused to commit to the restrictions, which would undermine their goal of enriching and selling uranium. The United Arab Emirates, a Saudi neighbor, and Taiwan have agreements with the United States that include bans on enrichment and fuel reprocessing.

Even if Saudi officials express willingness to sign a 123 agreement, any deal would face significant political obstacles in Washington. President Biden distrusts Prince Mohammed and denounced Saudi Arabia during a blowup over Riyadh’s oil policy in October. And many Democratic lawmakers and some Republican ones say Saudi Arabia has been a destabilizing force…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Flirting With China

As the Biden administration insists on certain safeguards, Saudi officials have continued looking at non-American companies.

An attractive one is the Korea Electric Power Corporation, or Kepco, based in South Korea. A company spokesperson said Kepco is talking to U.S. officials about the nuclear program and is interested in working with Saudi Arabia but declined to go into details, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Saudis.

But the South Korean government, a U.S. ally, would likely bar the company from the project if Saudi Arabia does not enter into a strict nonproliferation agreement with a government or the International Atomic Energy Agency. The company said it hoped “the conditions for participation in the project will be created.” And a complicating factor is a legal dispute between Kepco and Westinghouse over reactor designs.

…………………………… China has built up Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile arsenal over decades and sends military officers to work on the program, current and former U.S. officials said. And with Chinese technology, Saudi Arabia is now able to build its own missiles, they said. New satellite imagery showing bulldozer activity at previous missile sites indicates Saudi Arabia could be housing a new type of missile underground, said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

………………………………… Chinese nuclear companies have also offered to help explore and develop the country’s uranium resources. In 2017, the China National Nuclear Corporation and the Saudi Geological Survey signed a memorandum of understanding on surveying uranium deposits. In 2021, the Saudi Geological Survey issued a “certificate of appreciation” to the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology for help in exploring uranium and thorium resources……. more

April 3, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi crown prince is plotting to get US nuclear secrets by playing the White House, Russia, and China off against each other, report says

Business Insider Tom Porter ,Mar 15, 2023,

  • Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler is seeking to pit major powers against each other, a report said. 
  • Mohammed bin Salman reportedly believes it will help him secure US nuclear technology. 
  • Saudi Arabia has snubbed the US and drawn closer to rivals including China. 

Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, is trying to get better access to US nuclear technology by playing global powers against each other, Saudi officials told The Wall Street Journal. 

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has provoked the ire of the US, traditionally its closest international ally, while drawing closer to US adversaries including China and Russia.

Analysts have told Insider that the move appears to be part of a power play by Crown Prince Mohammed, amid perceptions that US influence in the region is waning. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Crown Prince Mohammed may be using its relations with China and Russia to establish a closer US security relationship…………………………………………………………………………….

The balancing act appears to be based on the calculation by Saudi Arabia that the US will be forced to offer concessions to the Saudis in order to maintain the alliance and offset the growing influence of China. 

A civilian nuclear program and better access to US weapons have long been core Saudi objectives, and Riyadh said last week that they would be the price for normalizing its relations with Israel.

US officials are wary of providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported, as they believe the Saudis could seek to develop nuclear weapons, amid fears that Iran is again gearing up its nuclear program.

March 17, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia seeks US security guarantees, nuclear assistance in return for Israel normalisation

Middle East Monitor March 12, 2023

Saudi Arabia is reportedly seeking a number of conditions to be met by the United States in return for its normalisation of relations with Israel, a report has claimed.

According to the New York Times, Saudi Arabia has said that it could potentially normalise ties with Israel if the US provides it security guarantees, assistance in its civilian nuclear program, and the lifting of restrictions on arms sales to the kingdom.

Those intentions and conditions were reportedly communicated to Washington by senior Saudi officials last year, when they talked to policy experts in the US such as members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – a pro-Israel think tank – who visited Riyadh in October……………………………………………………………….

March 12, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Seeks U.S. Security Pledges, Nuclear Help

Agreement could upend Middle East geopolitics but faces daunting obstacles

Saudi Arabia is asking the U.S. to provide security guarantees and help to develop its civilian nuclear program as Washington tries to broker diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel, people involved in discussions between the two countries said.

Striking a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia has become a priority for President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid a looming confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program and military aid to Russia during the Ukraine war. The Biden administration is deeply involved in the complex negotiations, the people said, and any deal would reshape the Middle East’s political landscape……………(Subscribers only)

March 10, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

South Korea, France keen to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia (no connection with nuclear weapons OF COURSE!)

Saudi Arabia moves forward with bids for nuclear plant

The kingdom has received bids to build its first nuclear power plant and South Korea is reportedly expressing interest.

AL-MONITOR, February 27, 2023

Saudi Arabia is progressing with its plans to build its first nuclear power plant and has received a number of bids. 

The Saudi Ministry of Finance’s 2023 budget statement published Feb. 15 notes that bids to build the plant were received last December, reported the Dubai-based business intelligence outlet Middle East Economic Digest on Monday. 

Background: Saudi Arabia has had an interest in nuclear power for decades. The kingdom was a major investor in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program that began in the 1970s, for example. In 2009, the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz told the Obama administration that the country would obtain nuclear weapons of its own if Iran were to do so. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the same thing to the US news outlet CBS. 

More recently, Saudi Arabia has been considering developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In 2018, the Saudi government announced its intention to add nuclear power to its energy mix. 

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions have been gaining momentum. Korea JoongAng Daily reported in November that South Korea was interested in building Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear power plant. 

Last December, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a nuclear law workshop with Saudi officials in Riyadh. The IAEA’s purpose was to “support the implementation of its nuclear energy program in a safe, secure and transparent manner,” according to a press release. 

In early February, Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding with France on energy cooperation. The memo noted nuclear energy as well as hydrogen and electricity interconnection, the official Saudi Press Agency reported………………

February 28, 2023 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia says nuclear arms race in the Middle East ‘cannot be ruled out’

Kingdom wants to be involved in global negotiations with Iran

N UK, 19 Feb 23,

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, has said he “cannot rule out” a nuclear arms race in the region.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said the kingdom was concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme and wanted negotiations between Tehran and world powers to resume.

At a session titled Middle Men: The Geostrategic Role of Middle Eastern Countries, Prince Faisal said: “If one state gets nuclear weapons, especially one that has expressed aggression towards its neighbours, I think everyone will start thinking about how to protect themselves.

“I hope that never happens. If it is a genie that gets out, it will be very hard to put back into the bottle…………………………………………………….. more

February 20, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia: The Next Nuclear Power?

The idea that Saudi Arabia will seek atomic weapons remains a concern. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country could develop nuclear weapons as a response to Iran’s nuclear program.

As Iran edges closer to gaining the ability to build nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia is beginning to make similar moves.


Saudi Arabia plans to develop its own nuclear power industry using local uranium, according to energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Recent field studies have shown promising uranium resources in the kingdom, he said during a speech at the Future Minerals Forum held in Riyadh in January.

“This would involve the entire nuclear fuel cycle: the production of yellowcake, low enriched uranium and the manufacturing of nuclear fuel both for our national use and, of course, for export,” Abdulaziz said, citing potential joint ventures “in accordance with international commitments and transparency standards.”

Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in the mining industry, touting resources including aluminum, phosphate, gold, copper and uranium worth about $1.33 trillion. In 2022, its mining revenue increased 27% and there are dozens of exploration licenses accessible to foreign companies. Overall, the kingdom wishes to attract $32 billions of investments to the mining sector.

“Equipped with robust bilateral relationships with relevant countries and the funds to bring in foreign partners, Saudi Arabia is likely to advance its nuclear game plan with the support of external players,” says Bayly Winder, Penn Kemble Fellow at the nonprofit National Endowment for Democracy. “Saudi Arabia initiated a bidding process for its first nuclear power station with interested parties including South Korea, China, Russia and France. The Saudi and American governments are also working on a partnership framework for clean-energy development”

The idea that Saudi Arabia will seek atomic weapons remains a concern. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country could develop nuclear weapons as a response to Iran’s nuclear program.

“The risk of regional escalation will continue to exist, but the Saudis are well aware of the sensitivities involved in nuclear energy buildup,” adds Winder.

The United Arab Emirates is currently the only Arab country operating a nuclear energy plant.

February 6, 2023 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal between USA and Saudi Arabia sneaked in under the guise of “clean energy”

Saudi-US partnership to develop clean and nuclear [i.e. dirty] energy

The partnership framework for Clean Energy Development between the two countries has identified the cooperation fields in which Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US will work to enhance, in order to achieve their ambitions in spreading clean energy and climate action.

Staff Writer, Saudi Gazett, January 15, 2023

RIYADH –  The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States intend to enhance cooperation between the two countries, in accordance with their respective national laws, through the Partnership Framework for Clean Energy Development.

The partnership framework for Clean Energy Development between the two countries has identified the cooperation fields in which KSA and the US will work to enhance, in order to achieve their ambitions in spreading clean energy and climate action.

The Umm Al-Qura newspaper has published the details of partnership framework and the potential cooperation fields.

…….. This cooperation would strengthen the common interests and strategic goals of each participant, and also to organize cooperation in clean energy field to study innovation, development, financing, and establishing infrastructure for clean energy in KSA and the US.

The partnership has identified several potential cooperation fields between the two countries in terms of civil nuclear energy and uranium, of which are the cooperation in basic researches, and development in the field of civil nuclear energy.

The cooperation fields include the exchange of experiences in various aspects, such as the field of developing advanced reactor technologies…….

January 15, 2023 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The Saudi path to nuclear weapons — Beyond Nuclear International

Is Riyadh preparing to build the bomb?

The Saudi path to nuclear weapons — Beyond Nuclear International Kingdom’s pursuit of nuclear power development should set off alarm bells
By Henry Sokolski, 328 Aug 22,

Iran’s nuclear program, oil, and human rights dominated Biden’s much-anticipated first presidential trip to the Middle East earlier this month. But there is one topic President Biden chose not to showcase during his visit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud—the Kingdom’s most recent interest in nuclear energy—and the nuclear weapons proliferation concerns that come with it.

Only weeks before Biden’s visit, Riyadh invited South Korea, Russia, and China to bid on the construction of two large power reactors. On that bid, Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) is the most likely winner. KEPCO has already built four reactors for Riyadh’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, and is the only vendor to bring a power reactor of its own design online in the Middle East. South Korea also is the only government to provide reliable, generous financing, free of political strings—something neither Moscow nor Beijing can credibly claim.

And then, there’s this: Any Korean sale would be covered by a generous 2011 South Korean nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh that explicitly authorizes the Saudis to enrich any uranium it might receive from Seoul. Under the agreement, Riyadh could enrich this material by up to 20 percent, without having to secure Seoul’s prior consent.

That should set off alarm bells.

Do the Saudis want a bomb? 

In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced that “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” As if to prove the point, late in 2020, word leaked that the Saudis have been working secretly with the Chinese to mine and process Saudi uranium ore. These are steps toward enriching uranium—and a possible nuclear weapon program.

Unlike the Emirates, which legally renounced enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel to separate plutonium, the Kingdom insists on retaining its “right” to enrich. Also, unlike most members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Saudi Arabia refuses to allow intrusive inspections that might help the IAEA find covert nuclear weapons-related activities, if they exist, under a nuclear inspections addendum known as the Additional Protocol.

Saudi Arabia’s enrichment program and refusal to adopt the Additional Protocol, doubled with a possible permissive South Korean reactor sale, could spell trouble. South Korea currently makes its nuclear fuel assemblies using imported uranium, which mainly comes from Australia. This ore is controlled by Australia’s uranium export policy, which requires that the uranium be monitored by the IAEA and that materials derived from it not be retransferred to a third country without first securing Australia’s consent. Yet, if Seoul decides to pass Australian uranium on to Riyadh, the Saudis are free to enrich it up to 20 percent at any time without having to secure anyone’s approval. In addition, Riyadh could proceed to enrich this material without having to agree to intrusive IAEA inspections under the Additional Protocol, making it easier for Riyadh to enrich beyond 20 percent uranium 235 without anyone knowing.

Can Washington block the reactor export? 

In Washington, the US nuclear industry understandably is miffed that Riyadh excluded Westinghouse from bidding on the Saudi reactors. Meanwhile, State Department officials say that KEPCO can’t sell Riyadh its APR-1400 reactor because it incorporates US nuclear technology that is property of Westinghouse………………………………..

Does the Republic of Korea need Washington’s blessing to begin enriching uranium itself or to transfer enrichment technology to other countries, such as Saudi Arabia?

The short answer is no…………………………..

 how committed is the Biden Administration to prevent Saudi Arabia from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent reactor fuel? …………………….more

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce aims to market its Small Nuclear Reactors to Saudi Arabia (a good step towards nuclear weapons?)

Rolls-Royce heads to Middle East as Saudi Arabia plots £74bn nuclear investment, 

ROLLS-ROYCE is looking to the Middle East to export its new [so-called] green technology while Saudi Arabia is reportedly eyeing up a £74billion nuclear investment.

Express UK By JACOB PAUL, Wed, Jan 19, 2022………….. Rolls-Royce looks set to bring its SMR technology to the World Future Energy Summit. This is a global conference showcasing green energy technology. Mr Samson said the company is hoping to start talks with government representatives and large industrial in the Middle East……

And this comes as Saudi Arabia is reportedly exploring options of investing $100 billion (£73.55billion) in several nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts………

It comes as Rolls-Royce looks set to bring its SMR technology to the World Future Energy Summit.

This is a global conference showcasing green energy technology.

Mr Samson said the company is hoping to start talks with government representatives and large industrial in the Middle East.

And this comes as Saudi Arabia is reportedly exploring options of investing $100 billion (£73.55billion) in several nuclear plants with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts……..

Mtr Samson – “We have opened up a whole spectrum of customers.”

And Rolls-Royce has already been looking for opportunities to sell its technology to potential UK customers.

But the first SMR units are not expected to come online before the early 2030s. Mr Samson said the company needs to first go through the regulatory processes in Britain. It also needs time to build factories, certify its designs and move on to the production process…………

January 20, 2022 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, UK | Leave a comment

China and Saudi Arabia blocking progress towards a deal at COP26

China and Saudi Arabia are blocking progress towards a deal at Cop26 by
refusing to accept that they must be fully transparent about their
greenhouse gas emissions. Senior negotiators at the climate change
conference in Glasgow said that both countries had objected to proposed
reporting requirements aimed at resolving concerns that some nations
conceal the extent of their emissions.

The dispute is delaying progress on
other ingredients of a deal, including rules on establishing a global
market for carbon offsetting. China is understood to object because its
climate target is based on a reduction in emissions per unit of GDP,
meaning that full transparency would reveal data it wants to keep secret
about its economic growth.

Saudi Arabia’s emissions are strongly
influenced by its biggest company, the oil giant Saudi Aramco, and it is
thought to be concerned about revealing information about its performance.
China and Saudi Arabia are also objecting to proposed wording in the final
text that emphasises the need to limit warming to 1.5C, meaning the coal
and oil on which they depend would have to be phased out more quickly.

 Times 9th Nov 2021

November 11, 2021 Posted by | China, climate change, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi minister says nuclear armament against Iran ‘an option’

November 21, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tehran’s UN ambassador says rival Saudi Arabia is looking for an excuse to build nuclear weapons and blaming Iran

Iran: Saudi Arabia ‘scapegoating’ its pursuit of nuclear arms, Tehran’s UN ambassador says rival Saudi Arabia is looking for an excuse to build nuclear weapons and blaming Iran.  Aljazeera, By Maziar Motamedi, 18 Nov 2020

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s United Nations ambassador says Saudi Arabia is trying to use Iran as an excuse to develop nuclear arms after a Saudi minister said the kingdom reserves the right to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

In tweets in Farsi and English, Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Kazem Gharibabadi, said “scapegoating and fearmongering are two common and classic methods used by demagogues”………

The Iranian official’s comments come shortly after Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said Saudi Arabia reserves the right to arm itself with nuclear weapons if Iran cannot be stopped from making one.

Tehran has pursued a nuclear programme for decades but insists it only wishes to use nuclear power peacefully.

More than 10 years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa – a legal or general decree in Islam by a religious authority or court and issued by a Mufti – declaring all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, a “serious threat against humanity”.

“The Iranian nation is itself a victim of the use of chemical weapons,” Khamenei wrote in reference to the eight-year Iran-Iraq War that ended in 1988.

“It feels the threat of development and proliferation of these weapons more than other nations and is ready to use all its resources to combat it.”

In 2015, Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with world powers that significantly curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of multilateral sanctions.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran.

After a year of remaining committed to the deal under sanctions, Iran gradually scaled back its commitments under the deal but has said it will come back to full compliance if the US does so first and lifts sanctions……..

November 19, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China-Saudi nuclear pact can trigger an arms race in West Asia

October 6, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment