Saudi Arabia is calling on the US to allow it to develop its nuclear power capability as it seeks to lessen its domestic consumption of oil.
The kingdom is currently planning to spend in excess of $80 billion on 16 nuclear reactors over the quarter of a century and has sought participation from the US in the expansive programme – which is dependent on Saudi signing a “123 Agreement”, or a declaration of peaceful intent.
Speaking to CNBC at the Munich Security Conference, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said that they are “talking to… roughly 10 countries or so around the world and we have not made a decision yet with regards to which path we will take and which country we will be focusing on more”, but stressed that they are pursuing the path “in order to produce energy so that we can save the oil and export it in order to generate revenue”.
Saudi Arabia has its own uranium deposits and they are now, according to Al Jubeir, merely seeking the same rights as countries in the MENASA region such as India and, perhaps more pertinently, Iran, whose development of enrichment capability caused considerable friction during the Obama administration.
Saudi stated its nuclear energy ambitions back in 2006 and in 2010 a royal decree was issued that stated nuclear energy was “essential to meet the kingdom's growing requirements for energy to generate electricity, produce desalinated water and reduce reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources”.
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