Arab Kingdom is willing to consider alternatives in an effort to better relations with Iran
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has no plans to forfeit its right to enrich uranium domestically, but is willing to consider alternatives in an effort to better relations with Iran, a key royal said on Wednesday.
Sanctions are piling up against OPEC member Iran as the international community seeks to force it to contain its nuclear activities, amid suspicion that Tehran is on the road to building a nuclear bomb.
Saudi Arabia and other Middle East states are thought to want nuclear power only for peaceful purposes.
While the kingdom sits on some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves, it has struggled to keep up with rapidly rising power demand as petrodollars have fuelled a Gulf-wide economic boom.
"Saudi plans to develop nuclear energy for domestic uses," Prince Turki Al Faisal, a key royal and brother of Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal, told Reuters in an interview.
"Saudi has proposed as a way to resolve this issue with Iran to have a neutral country to supply enriched uranium to Middle East countries. This is one solution," he said, adding that the kingdom has no plans to forfeit enrichment domestically.
"Another solution would be a weapons-free zone for mass destruction, which Saudi and the Arab league had proposed," he added.
Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear cooperation deal in 2008 with the United States, although it might not be as willing as the United Arab Emirates to forfeit the right to enrich its uranium reserves.