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Saudi Arabia wants nuclear power, WITHOUT the restrictions against making nuclear weapons

Saudi Arabia And The Nuclear Temptation. Lobe Log 

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, seems to have gotten what he wanted from his long glad-handing tour through the United States and several European capitals. He met President Trump and brand-name business tycoons and potential investors, and took home some actual deals, including a commitment by the giant French oil company Total to invest billions in a new petrochemical complex.

What he should have gotten but did not were stern lectures excoriating his glib, casual attitude about acquiring or developing nuclear weapons. Asked by Norah O’Donnell of CBS what Saudi Arabia would do if Iran obtained such weapons, he replied, “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” 

Either the young prince was badly briefed or his knowledge of history and international security affairs is thin. He does not seem to realize that his grand plans for modernizing his country and restructuring its economy, which are based on full integration into the global industrial and financial system, would fall apart if the United States and its allies thought that Saudi Arabia was pursuing nuclear arms. He could forget those big investments and deals, and most of his country’s sources of military equipment and training would dry up. The damage to his country that pursuit of nuclear weapons would cause would far outweigh any conceivable strategic gain. Does he not know why Iran was subjected to crippling economic sanctions for all those years before the multinational agreement of 2016 curtailed its nuclear program? Does he not know why North Korea is a pariah state?

Saudi Arabia is a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits signatories other than the five recognized nuclear powers from acquiring or developing a nuclear arsenal. Israel, India, and Pakistan have gotten away with their weapons programs because they are not parties to the NPT and thus have no legal obligation to abide by its terms. Even so, Pakistan did not escape the wrath of the U.S. Congress when it tested nuclear weapons in the 1990s, as bipartisan majorities enacted laws that authorized Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to impose stiff sanctions, which they did.  

Saudi Arabia, which has few friends in Congress, would be unlikely to escape the same fate. The kingdom cannot afford to become an international outlaw, like North Korea, or to see its oil sales curtailed and its access to global financial markets cut off, like Iran. That would put an end to the grand development plan the prince has styled “Vision 2030.”  ………..

According to many reports, the Saudis are asking that a bilateral deal, known as a “123 Agreement” for the section of the law that requires it, permit them to control both ends of the nuclear fuel cycle. In that way, they could enrich their own uranium and reprocess fuel once it is used up to extract the plutonium generated by the chain reaction. An existing agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Abu Dhabi permits neither. That agreement is known in the industry as the “gold standard.” But Saudi Arabia does not want to accept the “Abu Dhabi model” because the international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program does not prohibit enrichment. 

Enriched uranium fuel for nuclear reactors is plentiful in world markets, but Prince Mohammed has said that Saudi Arabia wants to take advantage of its own domestic resources by doing its own enrichment. Even if there is a valid argument to be made for enrichment, however, the Saudis cannot make a legitimate argument for reprocessing to capture plutonium, which has limited civilian uses but is primarily a fuel for nuclear weapons. 

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who has long opposed nuclear energy in any form, can be expected to lead congressional opposition to a 123 agreement that allows reprocessing. “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has confirmed what many have long suspected—nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia is about more than just electrical power, it’s about geopolitical power,” Markey said in a statement last month. “The United States must not compromise on nonproliferation standards in any 123 agreement it concludes with Saudi Arabia.” He said Saudi Arabia is interested more in “megatons than megawatts.” 

The Saudis could obtain civilian nuclear power reactors from other countries—South Korea provides those in Abu Dhabi—and it would not need an agreement with the United States to do that. But if it rejects a 123 agreement because it insists on retaining the right to reprocess, it will be sending an unmistakable and ill-advised signal. https://lobelog.com/saudi-arabia-and-the-nuclear-temptation/

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April 14, 2018 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia’s disturbing plans for dumping nuclear waste on the Qatari border

SAUDI ARABIA WANTS TO DUMP NUCLEAR WASTE ON THE QATARI BORDER TO MAKE ITS ARCH ENEMY AN ISLAND, NewsWeek , BY DAVID BRENNAN 

April 11, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, wastes | Leave a comment

A USA-Saudi agreement – the path to Saudi Arabia’s nuclear weapons?

Facing reality in the US-Saudi nuclear agreement: South Korea https://thebulletin.org/facing-reality-us-saudi-nuclear-agreement-south-korea11683, Victor Gilinsky, Henry Sokolski, 10 Apr 18   The Trump administrations is on the verge of signing a nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia that is reportedly “flexible” on Saudi acquisition of centrifuge technology to enrich uranium—the technology that can provide material for nuclear weapons and that was the central concern in regard to Iran’s nuclear program. This flexibility is necessary, the administration argues, to ensure the Saudis choose Westinghouse as their nuclear power reactor supplier. But Westinghouse, which performed abysmally on its last two US projects and is in bankruptcy as a result, is far less likely to win the bid than the South Korean construction firm whose work force is coming off successful completion of a large nuclear project nearby in the United Arab Emirates. This increases the importance of striking a tight US-Saudi agreement to ensure the Saudis don’t get to enrich under their nuclear cooperative agreement with Seoul.

The administration’s pitch that Congress should go along with “flexibility” pulls out all the usual bogeymen. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 22 that, “Either Russia or China is going to be a partner in building civil nuclear capability in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, or the United States.” The Saudis, guided by several Washington lobbying firms, have been pushing this line, which much of the Washington establishment has swallowed, adding that allowing Moscow to gain a nuclear foothold in Saudi Arabia would deal a serious blow to US regional influence and prestige.

But the Saudis are not so foolish as to choose Russia or China. Moscow is nuclear supplier to Saudi Arabia’s foe, Iran, and Beijing has yet to bring a power reactor online outside of China. The Saudis already have a significant history of nuclear involvement with South Korea. They signed an agreement for “cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy” in 2011 and a memorandum of understanding in 2015, with a view to buying two smaller, so-called small modular (SMART) Korean reactors. Dozens of Saudis have gone to South Korea for nuclear training.

In these circumstances, the enrichment provision in the 2011 Saudi-South Korean agreement is of vital concern. It reads as follows: “Uranium transferred pursuant to this Agreement or used in any equipment so transferred shall not be enriched to twenty (20) percent or more in the isotope U-235 unless the Parties otherwise agree.” In other words, the 2011 agreement permits installation of Saudi enrichment facilities generally, and in particular the enrichment to 20 percent of uranium supplied under the agreement. A reason this is worrying—and was worrying in the case of Iran—is that, although it may seem counter intuitive, to further enrich the 20 percent product to a bomb explosive level takes only an additional one-tenth of the work it took to get to 20 percent. It becomes especially worrying when coupled with the Saudi Crown Prince’s hair-trigger promise (see this 60 Minutes interview) that if Iran got a bomb, the Kingdom would, too, “as soon as possible.”

This means that if we intend to bar Saudi Arabia’s path to nuclear weapons, and we absolutely should, we have to insist on a provision in our agreement with Saudi Arabia like that included in the agreement with its UAE neighbor: that the country will not engage in its territory in activities related to enrichment or reprocessing (extracting plutonium from spent nuclear fuel—the other path to a bomb). And we need to make sure South Korea agrees to hold off on moving forward on Saudi reactors until such a provision is in place.

Why would Saudi Arabia agree to such a restrictive provision? And why would South Korea agree to cooperate in ensuring it is in place. The short answer is that both countries depend on our protection. If we can pressure countries on trade terms—something the administrations brags about—surely, we can do so in the interest of security. As US Sen. Jack Reed, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said in response to Perry’s testimony, “The proliferation dangers are so great that we should be able to wield all of the influence we have, which goes way beyond just this one transaction, to insist [on the] same standards we applied to the Emirates.” And as President Gerald Ford said many years ago, “nonproliferation objectives must take precedence over economic and energy benefits if a choice must be made.”

This of course assumes the administration adheres to the traditional US policy objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, even among friends. An especially worrying aspect of this entire affair is that there seems to be a sense, born of hostility to Iran, that a Saudi nuclear weapon option might not be such a bad thing—in fact that it might even be useful to frighten Iran. All that can be said about such thinking is: This way lies chaos. We should move in the opposite direction, starting with barring Saudi Arabia from getting nuclear weapons.

April 11, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Inside the vast web of PR firms popularizing the Saudi crown prince

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@_ChrisMaguire

They mention Burson-Marsteller but avoid mentioning WPP LLC (Its parent company) who are behind the scenes covering up SCL (Cambridge Analytica) election voting scandals, The BP Gulf Oil Disaster, The Fukushima nuclear disaster etc etc. A great bit of investigative Journalism by Christine Maguire here;

“…Previously, the small firm didn’t have a record of dealing with governments, but has ties to Trump. President Jacob Daniels was chief of staff at Trump’s Michigan campaign and owner Robert Stryk is a Republican operative who represented former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

The list of US firms on the Saudi payroll is extensive. Other companies include The Harbour Group, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, King & Spalding, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, Fleishman-Hillard Inc, Hogan & Hartson. The FT reported in September the kingdom’s information ministry was seeking to set up ‘hubs’ in Europe and Asia “to promote the changing face of KSA to the rest of the world and to improve international perception of the kingdom.”

Despite the best efforts of the multitude of PR firms, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to completely rebrand have fallen short. Bin Salman’s war in Yemen and the subsequent blockade on aid remains a sore point. Then there’s his November crackdown on corruption, which saw hundreds of businessmen and members of the royal family imprisoned in a luxury hotel where accusations of torture soon emerged.

The kingdom’s much-touted reform when it comes to women is the best PR for the country. However, with multiple reports that bin Salman has imprisoned his own mother to prevent her from influencing his father, not to mention the other obstacles imposed on the women of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince has a long way to go before he can truly be considered any sort of feminist, as Amnesty International noted on Thursday….”

https://www.rt.com/news/422858-saudi-pr-firms-yemen-terrorism/

Further reading here;

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/WPP

And here;

Beware the reputation managers

May 2011 (Post Fukushima)
“…Crisis management may, in its turn, mitigate the cost and impact of disasters, even those that are the product of mismanagement. Anterooms to the executive suite are suddenly crowded with advisers eager to point out that BP’s bill would have been lower if it had fostered better political connections before, and communicated and lobbied differently after, the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. ..
.”

https://www.ft.com/content/cb24bd52-7fe4-11e0-b018-00144feabdc0

Image source;

http://adage.com/article/global-news/wpp-lead-deal-maker-54-acquisitions-2013/291800/

NOTE

Please note that the extensive articles posted on this blog on this companies connection to industrial disaster crisis management for governments and corporations, that mentioned WPP LLC complicity to the Fukushima nuclear disaster are not accessible as the new Google search algorythm (since July 2017) seems to block much of the content posted on this (and other websites, blogs etc)  blog (Shaun aka arclight2011). Some evidence for that here;

March 31, 2018 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Crown Prince Bin Salman suggests war may happen between Saudi Arabia and Iran

War between Saudi Arabia and Iran May Happen in Just 10-15 Years – Crown Princhttps://human-wrongs-watch.net/2018/03/30/war-between-saudi-arabia-and-iran-may-happen-in-just-10-15-years-crown-prince/Human Wrongs Watch 30 March, 2018 (RT)* — De-facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Bin Salman has warned that Riyadh may go to war with regional nemesis Iran in the next 10-15 years if the international community fails to apply more sanctions pressure on Tehran.    30 MARCH, 2018 (RT)

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia to build the world’s biggest solar power project

Times 29th March 2018, Saudi Arabia has announced a $200 billion plan to build the world’s biggest
solar-power project, which would end the country’s dependence on oil. The
project, which would result in panels taking up vast tracts of the desert
equivalent to a million football pitches, has been secured by Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman and could mark a change in the world’s environmental
management.

Under the terms of the arrangement, solar-power plants would
supply enough electricity not only for Saudi Arabia but much of the Middle
East. In doing so it would allow the country to export more oil for money
and, it is claimed, help in the spread of renewable, low-carbon energy
worldwide.   https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/saudi-arabia-plans-200bn-solar-park-for-an-oil-free-future-ghzsnhxt7

Telegraph 28th March 2018, Saudi Arabia has cast light on its $200bn (£141bn) plans to cut its
reliance on oil by rolling out the world’s most ambitious solar power
project through a deal with SoftBank. The agreement will drive investment
in a series of solar parks across the kingdom to be built by 2030, capable
of generating enough power for 150 million homes.   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/28/saudi-arabia-curb-oil-addiction-141bn-softbank-solar-deal/

March 28, 2018 Posted by | renewable, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi prince admission of possible nuclear weapons development has upset USA lawmakers

Saudi Prince’s Nuclear Bomb Comment May Scuttle Reactor Deal, Bloomberg  By Ari Natter 

  • Fresh scrutiny for plan to build U.S. reactors in Saudi Arabia
  • Lawmakers say Saudis shouldn’t be allowed to enrich uranium

Opposition to a deal for the U.S. to provide nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia is growing after Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the kingdom would develop a nuclear weapon if Iran did.

  The potential for U.S. companies to participate in the construction of as many as 16 nuclear reactors sought by the kingdom has been seen as a potential lifeline to Westinghouse Electric Co. and others suffering from the flagging nuclear industry at home.
 To further that effort, the Trump administration is said to be considering allowing the Saudis the right to enrich uranium, a break from the so-called “gold standard” included in the nuclear-sharing agreement with the United Arab Emirates, which allows power generation but prohibits the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium.

But that idea ran into a buzzsaw during a House hearing on Wednesday, with lawmakers from both parties saying prince’s admission that his country might seek to build nuclear weapons was cause to halt negotiations between the two nations. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with Saudi officials earlier this month in London to begin talks on the deal. …….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-21/saudi-prince-s-nuclear-bomb-comment-may-scuttle-reactor-deal

March 24, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE BOASTED THAT JARED KUSHNER WAS “IN HIS POCKET” 

  One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.

The Washington Post reported this week that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster “expressed early concern that Kushner was freelancing U.S. foreign policy.” According to the Post, Tillerson once asked staffers in frustration: “Who is the secretary of state here?”

Indeed, Kushner has grown so close to the Saudi and Emirati crown princes that he has communicated with them directly using WhatsApp, a reasonably secure messaging app owned by Facebook and popular in the Middle East, according to a senior Western official and a source close to the Saudi royal family.

https://theintercept.com/2018/03/21/jared-kushner-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman/  Alex EmmonsRyan GrimClayton SwisherMarch 22 2018, 

 UNTIL HE WAS stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February, presidential adviser Jared Kushner was known around the White House as one of the most voracious readers of the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified rundown of the latest intelligence intended only for the president and his closest advisers.

Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East, according to a former White House official and a former U.S. intelligence professional. Continue reading

March 23, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The push for nuclear power for Saudi Arabia raises fears of weapons proliferation in Middle East

Saudi energy deal push sparks nuclear weapon concerns,The Hill, 

At issue is a deal that would allow the United States to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has already started negotiations, with Energy Secretary Rick Perry reportedly meeting with senior Saudi officials in London last month.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia warns they will develop nuclear weapons, if Iran does

Saudi Arabia raises the stakes in Middle East with Iran nuclear threat  https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-raises-the-stakes-in-middle-east-with-iran-nuclear-threat-20180316-p4z4lt.html, Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons if its arch-rival Iran does so, the kingdom’s crown prince said in remarks released on Thursday, raising the prospect of a nuclear arms race in a region already riven with conflict.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS in a 60 Minutes interview that will air in the United States on Sunday.

He also reiterated previous comments he has made likening Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler.

“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time,” the prince says in the interview.

“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realise how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

The Sunni Muslim kingdom has been at loggerheads with revolutionary Shi’ite Iran for decades. The countries have fought a long-running proxy war in the Middle East and beyond, backing rival sides in armed conflicts and political crises including in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Prince Mohammed, who also serves as Saudi defence minister, said last year that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran”, prompting Iranian threats to hit back at most of Saudi Arabia except the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Riyadh has criticised the 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for the Islamic Republic curbing its nuclear energy program. US sanctions will resume unless President Donald Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

The comments by Prince Mohammed, who at 32 is heir to the throne, also have implications for Israel, another US ally which neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Israel has long argued that, should Iran develop nuclear weapons, it would trigger similar projects among the Persian power’s Arab rivals and further destabilise the region.

It has never joined the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has said it would consider inspections and controls under the NPT only if was at peace with its Arab neighbours and Iran.

Civilian projects

Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to develop a civilian nuclear energy capability as part of a reform plan led by Prince Mohammed to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.

The world’s top oil exporter has previously said it wants nuclear technology only for peaceful uses but has left unclear whether it also wants to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel, a process which can also be used in the production of atomic weapons.

The United States, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multi-billion dollar tender to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors.

Prince Mohammed’s comments, ahead of a trip to the United States next week, could impact the bid by a consortium that includes Toshiba-owned Westinghouse.

US companies can usually transfer nuclear technology to another country only if the United States has signed an agreement with that country ruling out domestic uranium enrichment and the preprocessing of spent nuclear fuel — steps that can have military uses.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement that would deprive it of the possibility of one day enriching uranium.

Reactors need uranium enriched to around five percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival which enriches uranium domestically.

Riyadh approved a national policy for its atomic energy programme on Tuesday, including limiting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties.

Reuters

March 17, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia lobbying USA hard to get nuclear technology including enriching uranium

Saudis Enlist Washington Lobbyists in Bid for Nuclear Plants https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-09/saudi-arabia-enlists-lobbyists-in-quest-to-build-nuclear-plants  By Jennifer A Dlouhy, 

  • Three firms file disclosures to consult with Saudi Arabia
  • Deal faces obstacles over fears about uranium enrichment

Saudi Arabia is enlisting blue-chip lobbyists in Washington as it prepares for a fight over its ambition to build nuclear power plants.

 Three law firms have filed disclosures saying they’re advising the kingdom on the issue, as American and Saudi leaders negotiate the contours of a possible nuclear technology-sharing agreement that could allow the enrichment of uranium.

The flurry of registrations underscores the high stakes in Saudi Arabia’s bid to build as many as 16 nuclear reactors over the next quarter century. Trump administration officials, eager to revive the moribund American nuclear industry, are pushing the kingdom to consider a consortium of U.S. companies for the job instead of competitors from Russia, China and other countries.

 One of the law firms, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLC, said in a Feb. 20 Justice Department filing that it would be billing the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources $890 per hour to give advice on a potential bilateral agreement with the U.S. “concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954” as well as “related legal matters concerning the development of a commercial nuclear program.”

DOJ Filings

Among the key players is Jeff Merrifield, a former presidential appointee on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who now leads Pillsbury’s energy practice.

King and Spalding LLP used almost identical language in a Feb. 21 filing with the Justice Department, which maintains registrations of foreign agents in the U.S. The firm said it would be paid as much as $450,000 for an initial 30-day contract, which could be extended.

And in a third registration on Feb. 20, David Kultgen, a lawyer and retired Saudi Arabian Oil Company executive, said he was recruited in early October to provide legal and consulting services to Saudi Arabia, including on its national atomic energy project.

Plutonium Warnings

Lawmakers and nonproliferation experts warn that without strict prohibitions, a deal to supply Saudi Arabia with nuclear power plants could allow spent fuel to be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with Saudi officials in London last week to discuss the possible nuclear plant deal, even as the Trump administration reluctantly prepares to offer the Saudis an accord that falls short of a so-called “gold standard” prohibition on enriching and reprocessing of uranium that was embedded in a nuclear-sharing agreement with the United Arab Emirates a decade ago.

At least one other such “123 agreement” to share nuclear technology — named after a section of the U.S Atomic Energy Act — contains similar prohibitions, but more than a dozen others fall short of that “gold standard.”

Supporters of a nuclear plant agreement are girding for a fight. Even if the Trump administration agrees to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, the deal faces bipartisan criticism in Congress. Federal law requires congressional approval of and consultation over any 123 agreements laying out the framework for nuclear cooperation, with a special role reserved for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Netanyahu’s Concerns

Under some scenarios, a 123 agreement can enter into force after 60 days unless Congress adopts a joint resolution disapproving it, according tothe Congressional Research Service.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared his concerns about Riyadh’s nuclear power goals with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week, telling lawmakers he opposed any agreement allowing the Saudis to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium.

The chairman of that committee, Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, said that “there will be a lot of attention paid as to how this is crafted.”

And that scrutiny is bipartisan. Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who also sits on the Foreign Relations panel, said any watering down of the gold standard “would set a negative precedent for the entirety of the Middle East.”

“It would be hard to say to the United Arab Emirates, to the Egyptians, and for that matter other countries around the world, that they shouldn’t also have uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing,” Markey said in an interview.

— With assistance by Ari Natter

March 10, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Henry Sokolski Blows Up 5 Myths about Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program

5 Myths about Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program,  Enabling Riyadh would only make the region’s nuclear landscape riskier. Henry Sokolski  

Much has been written about Saudi Arabia’s plans for nuclear power since the Trump administration announced last fall that it would conclude a civilian nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh. Almost all of this commentary suggests Washington must accommodate the kingdom’s desire to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium, two activities that bring states to the brink of making bombs. In particular, commentators repeatedly raise five points—none of which are sound.

Myth #1: Saudi Arabia needs nuclear power to meet its growing electrical demand.

If Saudi Arabia is to have a prosperous economic future, we are told, it must meet its growing power requirements by burning less oil. For this, nuclear proponents insist, the Saudis need sixteen large reactors. Although often repeated, this is not true. In 2012, the Saudis announced their intention to build sixteen reactors by 2032. By 2017, Saudi planners had pushed this back to 2040. Shortly thereafter, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman backed an national development plan for 2030 that didn’t mention nuclear power, but instead focused on investing in renewables.

Most recently, the Saudis announced that instead of sixteen large power reactors, they are only building two. Some have argued that this slippage reflects the kingdom’s desire to finance reactor construction with its oil revenues. With the price of oil dropping from $100 a barrel several years ago to roughly $60 a barrel today, the schedule for nuclear construction had to slide. If true, this suggests the Saudi nuclear “imperative” is less than urgent.

A more compelling explanation is that Saudis don’t need nuclear power. In fact, recent studies found that the Saudis could more cheaply meet their energy and environmental requirements by developing its natural-gas resources and investing in renewables—photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and wind. They also found economic value in upgrading the kingdom’s electrical grid and reducing subsidies that artificially drive up electrical demand. This should not be surprising. The United Arab Emirates, Riyadh’s next-door neighbor, which began construction of four power reactors several years ago, just announced that the UAE would not be building any more nuclear plants. Why? Cheaper alternatives: in addition to plentiful natural gas and wind resources, the Emirates are now investing in photovoltaic systems and solar thermal storage systems, which together can operate twenty-four hours a day more cheaply than nuclear. These findings also apply to Saudi Arabia.

Myth #2: Without a formal nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh, America will forgo billions of dollars of nuclear hardware and know-how exports to the kingdom.

This point presumes that the kingdom will stick with its 2012 energy plan, which it has already backed away from. It also mistakenly assumes that America still manufactures export reactors. The only American-headquartered firm that is actively interested in exporting to the kingdom is Westinghouse. It is entirely foreign owned and is a reactor designer, not a manufacturer. It’s currently in bankruptcy proceedings, and is eager to be bought by a Canadian holding firm. Naturally, Westinghouse would like its prospective buyers to believe that it has a clear shot at the Saudi market.

Unfortunately it’s, at best, a long shot. Westinghouse’s design, the AP1000, has yet to operate anywhere. The reactor’s construction is embarrassingly behind schedule and over budget both in China and the United States. Mismanagement by Westinghouse caused two reactors in South Carolina to be terminated after an expenditure of $9 billion, which, in turn, nearly bankrupted Westinghouse’s Japanese owner, Toshiba. Finally, American nuclear know-how and other nonnuclear electrical generating parts can and have been exported in support of non-American reactors abroad without a formal nuclear cooperative agreement. These goods would likely make up a majority of American nuclear exports to the kingdom but, again, their export does not require negotiating a nuclear cooperative agreement.

Myth #3: If Westinghouse does not win the bid, the Russians or Chinese will, reducing American nuclear influence in the region.  

This argument is perhaps the most egregious. Consider: an unspoken motive for the kingdom to pursue a nuclear program is to develop an option to make nuclear weapons, if needed, to deter Iran. This would all but preclude buying Russian. Rosatom, after all, is building Iran’s reactors. If Saudi Arabia buys Russian, it is all but asking Moscow to let Iran know exactly what the kingdom is doing in the nuclear realm. Consider also Russia’s recent ill-fated nuclear dealings with South Africa (a contributing factor in forcing President Zumafrom office) and Turkey (where Rosatom’s financial inflexibility prompted Turkey’s private financiers, who were underwriting half of the undertaking, to pull out of the project).

As for buying Chinese, doing so is also risky. The Chinese recently encountered “safety concerns” that delayed operation in Taishan of both its Westinghouse AP1000, and a French-based design. As for China’s top export nuclear design, the Hualong One (HPR 1000) reactor, the British won’t be done certifying it until 2022. China’s other possible export system, the CAP 1400, based on the yet-unproven AP1000, has yet to operate anywhere.

What’s left? The kingdom’s original bid requirements were for two reactors that would produce 2,800 megawatts. The only country that has a reactor that is operating, that is properly licensed, and that has been built roughly on time and on budget that could meet this requirement is Korea’s APR-1400. The Saudis only changed their original bid requirements after the United States, China, Russia and France all complained. Given Korea’s relative success in building four APR-1400 reactors on time and on budget in the United Arab Emirates, and its success in operating a licensed APR-1400 in South Korea, the Korean reactor is still the odds-on favorite to win the Saudi bid.

 Myth # 4: It makes economic sense for the kingdom to enrich uranium to fuel its own reactors.

No, it doesn’t. Saudi nuclear backers argue that the kingdom should enrich, given the uranium reserves the Saudis have discovered. Uranium, however, is plentiful globally and priced at historic lows (less than $22 a pound), as are uranium-enrichment services. More important, the kingdom would have to spend billions on a variety of plants to enrich uranium and produce its own nuclear fuel. Starting such an undertaking might make economic sense if the kingdom had roughly a dozen large reactors up and running. It currently has none, and has only opened a process to buying two.

Myth #5: United States has more to gain by accommodating Saudi Arabia’s demand that it be allowed to enrich uranium than resisting it.

Trumpeting these myths, proponents of a permissive U.S.-Saudi nuclear deal argue that Washington lacks the leverage to secure a Saudi pledge not to make enrich or reprocess. The best Washington can do, it is argued, is to ask Riyadh to defer such dangerous nuclear activities for several years. Some even suggestthat acceding to Riyadh’s wishes is in Washington’s interest, since allowing the Saudis the capacity to make nuclear weapons–usable fuels might help “deter” Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

None of this seems sound. As already noted, the Korean APR-1400 is most likely to win the Saudi contract. Given this reactor’s American technical content, senior Korean officials are convinced they cannot export it to the kingdom unless the Saudis first reach a nuclear cooperative agreement with the United States. For this reason (and others besides), Seoul is inclined to take American guidance. Meanwhile, President Trump is trying to get the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal to devise a tighter follow-on understanding. A riskier approach would be for the United States to break from its policy (solidified in the 2009 U.S.-UAE nuclear cooperative agreement) to get non-weapons states in the Middle East to forswear enriching and reprocessing.

Besides the odd optics of looking like a version of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (which President Trump says is “the worst deal ever”), allowing Riyadh to enrich and reprocess would immediately excite the humors of the UAE and Egypt. Both have U.S. nuclear cooperative agreements that allow them to request their agreements be modified if the United States offers any of their neighbors a more generous nuclear deal. Then there’s Morocco and Turkey: their nuclear agreements with Washington are up for renewal in 2021 and 2023. They too are likely to ask for equal treatment as soon as possible. How this serves anyone’s long-term interest is, at best, unclear.

Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993.

If Saudi Arabia is to have a prosperous economic future, we are told, it must meet its growing power requirements by burning less oil. For this, nuclear proponents insist, the Saudis need sixteen large reactors. Although often repeated, this is not true. In 2012, the Saudis announced their intention to build sixteen reactors by 2032. By 2017, Saudi planners had pushed this back to 2040. Shortly thereafter, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman backed an national development plan for 2030 that didn’t mention nuclear power, but instead focused on investing in renewables.

Most recently, the Saudis announced that instead of sixteen large power reactors, they are only building two. Some have argued that this slippage reflects the kingdom’s desire to finance reactor construction with its oil revenues. With the price of oil dropping from $100 a barrel several years ago to roughly $60 a barrel today, the schedule for nuclear construction had to slide. If true, this suggests the Saudi nuclear “imperative” is less than urgent.

A more compelling explanation is that Saudis don’t need nuclear power. In fact, recent studies found that the Saudis could more cheaply meet their energy and environmental requirements by developing its natural-gas resources and investing in renewables—photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and wind. They also found economic value in upgrading the kingdom’s electrical grid and reducing subsidies that artificially drive up electrical demand. This should not be surprising. The United Arab Emirates, Riyadh’s next-door neighbor, which began construction of four power reactors several years ago, just announced that the UAE would not be building any more nuclear plants. Why? Cheaper alternatives: in addition to plentiful natural gas and wind resources, the Emirates are now investing in photovoltaic systems and solar thermal storage systems, which together can operate twenty-four hours a day more cheaply than nuclear. These findings also apply to Saudi Arabia.

Myth #2: Without a formal nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh, America will forgo billions of dollars of nuclear hardware and know-how exports to the kingdom.

This point presumes that the kingdom will stick with its 2012 energy plan, which it has already backed away from. It also mistakenly assumes that America still manufactures export reactors. The only American-headquartered firm that is actively interested in exporting to the kingdom is Westinghouse. It is entirely foreign owned and is a reactor designer, not a manufacturer. It’s currently in bankruptcy proceedings, and is eager to be bought by a Canadian holding firm. Naturally, Westinghouse would like its prospective buyers to believe that it has a clear shot at the Saudi market.

Unfortunately it’s, at best, a long shot. Westinghouse’s design, the AP1000, has yet to operate anywhere. The reactor’s construction is embarrassingly behind schedule and over budget both in China and the United States. Mismanagement by Westinghouse caused two reactors in South Carolina to be terminated after an expenditure of $9 billion, which, in turn, nearly bankrupted Westinghouse’s Japanese owner, Toshiba. Finally, American nuclear know-how and other nonnuclear electrical generating parts can and have been exported in support of non-American reactors abroad without a formal nuclear cooperative agreement. These goods would likely make up a majority of American nuclear exports to the kingdom but, again, their export does not require negotiating a nuclear cooperative agreement.

Myth #3: If Westinghouse does not win the bid, the Russians or Chinese will, reducing American nuclear influence in the region.  

This argument is perhaps the most egregious. Consider: an unspoken motive for the kingdom to pursue a nuclear program is to develop an option to make nuclear weapons, if needed, to deter Iran. This would all but preclude buying Russian. Rosatom, after all, is building Iran’s reactors. If Saudi Arabia buys Russian, it is all but asking Moscow to let Iran know exactly what the kingdom is doing in the nuclear realm. Consider also Russia’s recent ill-fated nuclear dealings with South Africa (a contributing factor in forcing President Zumafrom office) and Turkey (where Rosatom’s financial inflexibility prompted Turkey’s private financiers, who were underwriting half of the undertaking, to pull out of the project).

As for buying Chinese, doing so is also risky. The Chinese recently encountered “safety concerns” that delayed operation in Taishan of both its Westinghouse AP1000, and a French-based design. As for China’s top export nuclear design, the Hualong One (HPR 1000) reactor, the British won’t be done certifying it until 2022. China’s other possible export system, the CAP 1400, based on the yet-unproven AP1000, has yet to operate anywhere.

What’s left? The kingdom’s original bid requirements were for two reactors that would produce 2,800 megawatts. The only country that has a reactor that is operating, that is properly licensed, and that has been built roughly on time and on budget that could meet this requirement is Korea’s APR-1400. The Saudis only changed their original bid requirements after the United States, China, Russia and France all complained. Given Korea’s relative success in building four APR-1400 reactors on time and on budget in the United Arab Emirates, and its success in operating a licensed APR-1400 in South Korea, the Korean reactor is still the odds-on favorite to win the Saudi bid.

Myth # 4: It makes economic sense for the kingdom to enrich uranium to fuel its own reactors.

No, it doesn’t. Saudi nuclear backers argue that the kingdom should enrich, given the uranium reserves the Saudis have discovered. Uranium, however, is plentiful globally and priced at historic lows (less than $22 a pound), as are uranium-enrichment services. More important, the kingdom would have to spend billions on a variety of plants to enrich uranium and produce its own nuclear fuel. Starting such an undertaking might make economic sense if the kingdom had roughly a dozen large reactors up and running. It currently has none, and has only opened a process to buying two.

Myth #5: United States has more to gain by accommodating Saudi Arabia’s demand that it be allowed to enrich uranium than resisting it.

Trumpeting these myths, proponents of a permissive U.S.-Saudi nuclear deal argue that Washington lacks the leverage to secure a Saudi pledge not to make enrich or reprocess. The best Washington can do, it is argued, is to ask Riyadh to defer such dangerous nuclear activities for several years. Some even suggestthat acceding to Riyadh’s wishes is in Washington’s interest, since allowing the Saudis the capacity to make nuclear weapons–usable fuels might help “deter” Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

None of this seems sound. As already noted, the Korean APR-1400 is most likely to win the Saudi contract. Given this reactor’s American technical content, senior Korean officials are convinced they cannot export it to the kingdom unless the Saudis first reach a nuclear cooperative agreement with the United States. For this reason (and others besides), Seoul is inclined to take American guidance. Meanwhile, President Trump is trying to get the European parties to the Iran nuclear deal to devise a tighter follow-on understanding. A riskier approach would be for the United States to break from its policy (solidified in the 2009 U.S.-UAE nuclear cooperative agreement) to get non-weapons states in the Middle East to forswear enriching and reprocessing.

Besides the odd optics of looking like a version of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (which President Trump says is “the worst deal ever”), allowing Riyadh to enrich and reprocess would immediately excite the humors of the UAE and Egypt. Both have U.S. nuclear cooperative agreements that allow them to request their agreements be modified if the United States offers any of their neighbors a more generous nuclear deal. Then there’s Morocco and Turkey: their nuclear agreements with Washington are up for renewal in 2021 and 2023. They too are likely to ask for equal treatment as soon as possible. How this serves anyone’s long-term interest is, at best, unclear.

Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Saudi Arabia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Senator Ed Markey warns on danger in allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium, reprocess spent nuclear fuel

US lawmaker concerned over nuclear overtures to Saudi  https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/39343667/us-lawmaker-concerned-over-nuclear-overtures-to-saudi/, 28 Feb 18, Washington (AFP) – An American legislator has expressed concern over the Trump administration’s efforts to sign a nuclear cooperation accord with Saudi Arabia, which is preparing to build several reactors.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, says any deal is “almost certain” to require a non-proliferation accord, known as a “123 agreement,” of the type the United States has previously signed with South Korea and India, and which is designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

“Previous US efforts to conclude a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia have been unsuccessful because of its long-standing refusal to commit to foregoing any uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing on its territory — the so-called… ‘gold standard’ for 123 agreements,” Markey, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

AFP on Tuesday obtained a copy of the letter, which is dated February 26.

Riyadh plans to announce at the beginning of March its short list of firms which will bid to build its nuclear reactors.

Besides the US company Westinghouse, Russian, French, Chinese and South Korean firms are in the running.

A nuclear accord between Riyadh and Washington would allow US corporations to export their nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, while tensions are high surrounding the civil nuclear program of Riyadh’s regional rival Iran.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up a 2015 global pact under which Iran — facing suspicions it was working towards a nuclear bomb — agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.

Both Washington and Riyadh have complained of Iran’s “destabilizing” acts in the Middle East.

Markey says Saudi Arabia’s “unwillingness” to commit to a “gold standard” 123 agreement “is particularly concerning in light of comments made by Saudi officials and members of the royal family suggesting that a nuclear program may be as much for geopolitical purposes as for electricity generation.”

According to several US media reports, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the main driver of a more aggressive regional push by the kingdom — is to visit the United States in early March to meet with Trump.

The visit has not been officially confirmed by either country.

Ties between the kingdom and Washington have strengthened since Trump assumed office early last year. His first official trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia, which is trying to diversify its oil-based economy and energy sources.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Energy Secretary Rick Perry ready to make concession to Saudi Arabia – to market US nuclear power to that country

  • Perry Plans Nuclear-Energy Talks With Saudis, Sources Say https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-26/u-s-energy-chief-is-said-to-plan-nuclear-deal-talks-with-saudis, By  Ari Natter ,  Jennifer Jacobs , and  Jennifer A Dlouhy  February 27, 2018, 

    Talks come as U.S. considers allowing Saudi uranium enrichment

    ·         Energy Secretary Perry delays India trip for visit to London

    Energy Secretary Rick Perry will travel to London to discuss nuclear energy with officials from Saudi Arabia on Friday as the Trump administration pursues a deal to build reactors in the kingdom, according to two people familiar with the plans.

    Perry scrapped a trip to New Delhi to accommodate meetings at the White House this week, creating an opening for him to lead an inter-agency delegation to London, said the people, who asked not to be named to discuss administration strategy.

    The administration is considering permitting Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium as part of a deal that would allow Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East kingdom.

    The meetings in London between Perry and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih are seen as a critical step in months of ongoing discussions over a potential nuclear cooperation agreement, bringing together key deal makers from each country.
    Some American agreements with other countries have prohibited the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium in exchange for the use of nuclear technology, and that had scuttled negotiations for Saudi projects during the Obama administration.

    16 Power Plants
    The administration is mulling whether to ease that requirement now as a way to help Westinghouse and other companies win Saudi contracts. Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, according to the World Nuclear Association.

    The Energy Department confirmed the cancellation of Perry’s India trip but a spokesman did not reply to a question about the London talks.

    Any agreement they reach must be approved by Congress, which will have 90 days to weigh in. The potential deal has drawn opposition from anti-nuclear proliferation advocates and some lawmakers, such as Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

    On Monday, Markey asked the Trump administration to detail its efforts to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the Saudis and share information about U.S. negotiations with the country.

    “Congress remains in the dark about what exactly is being considered, why we may be re-evaluating our nonproliferation objectives and standards, and how and when this information is being conveyed to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world,” Markey said in a letter to Perry and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is expected to visit the U.S. in March.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

The grave danger of USA permissively selling nuclear power to Saudi Arabia

No to a permissive US-Saudi nuclear deal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Victor Gilinsky, Henry Sokolski , 22 Feb 18, 

A US-Saudi nuclear agreement is said to be in the works. The reported deal would allow Saudi Arabia to buy US nuclear power reactors and—because of Saudi resistance to stricter terms—would be “flexible” on Saudi uranium enrichment and on reprocessing of spent reactor fuel. The trouble with flexibility regarding these critical technologies is that it leaves the door open to production of nuclear explosives.

More disappointing, although perhaps not surprising, is that the proposed agreement has the support of more than a few nuclear policy experts outside government. They make a familiar argument regarding nuclear exports: If the United States insists on stricter terms—terms that bar enrichment and reprocessing—the Saudis will turn to Russia or China for nuclear technology, granting these countries greater influence in the Middle East. The United States has been down this road before, in the cases of Iran and India, and it didn’t turn out well. A permissive US-Saudi nuclear agreement would be strategically dangerous for the United States and the region. Congress should not approve such a deal.

What’s driving the administration to cut such an agreement? Let’s set aside the Energy Department’s claims that the Saudis need nuclear power plants and that Westinghouse has a chance to get the business for the United States. First, the Saudis have cheaper energy options—natural gas and renewables. This is clear from the decision of the similarly situated United Arab Emirates not to build more nuclear plants beyond four reactors already planned or under construction. Second, Westinghouse—now bankrupt—has no chance to get the business, and in any case it is no longer a US-owned company. The Saudis, if they did go forward with developing nuclear energy, would do business with the South Koreans, who are successfully completing a proven reactor design next door in the United Arab Emirates.

If buying American is not the key driver of this deal, what is? The Saudis, to maintain theoption of using in its plants US parts whose export is controlled by law, want an umbrella agreement. But they obviously have more in mind than nuclear energy. They compete with Iran for influence in the Middle East, and they are obsessed with this rivalry. They are convinced that they need to match Iran’s nuclear potential. That means being within arm’s reach of a Bomb. These circumstances shouldn’t surprise  anyone, and in fact one of the main reasons to restrain Iran is precisely to avoid such a scenario. If Saudi Arabia opts for nuclear weapons, Turkey and Egypt may be close behind. Taking into account Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the Middle East could turn into a nuclear cauldron.

One must also consider the longer-term consequences of allowing “flexibility” in a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia. Nuclear plants proposed for the Middle East, or now being built, will last many decades. But will governments in the region last that long? The Saudi kingdom—despite recent, overhyped steps toward modernity such as allowing women to drive—is an anachronism. However firmly entrenched the kingdom appears in the person of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, it could disappear overnight, as almost happened in the fundamentalist attack on the Grand Mosque in 1979.

………  nuclear power’s weapons potential is, if anything, more worrisome than ever. It does not make sense for the United States to promote nuclear energy internationally……….  https://thebulletin.org/no-permissive-us-saudi-nuclear-deal11534

February 24, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | 1 Comment