Development of Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program: Causes and Consequences
Development of Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program: Causes and Consequences
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Saudi Arabia aims at economic diversification and reduction of the oil and gas sector’s share in its economy. It is one of Saudi Arabia’s main aims set in “Vision 2030” program. As part of these tasks, Riyadh is examining the possibility of nuclear energy developing. Saudi rivalry with Iran in the political arena and in the field of petrochemical exports also helps increasing attention to nuclear technology. The role of Saudi Arabia's partners in the nuclear industry is claimed by several world leaders. The strongest positions in the field are held by the USA and by Russia. Saudi Arabia has to develop all stages of its nuclear program: from uranium mining to its processing. There are large uranium deposits in the country. The reluctance of Riyadh to abandon the prospect of enrichment and processing of spent nuclear fuel contributes to the growth of suspicions in its desire to become the owner of military nuclear technologies. Saudi nuclear program turns a factor of additional tensions in the region. The development of Iran's nuclear program strengthens the activity of the Saudi Kingdom in developing its own nuclear industry. Removing restrictions on uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia can not but strengthen the Saudi-Iranian rivalry which is damaging to the entire region. It will also provoke other recipients of United States nuclear technology to demand the granting of similar rights. That means the 123 agreement with Egypt and the UAE can be revised if other countries of the region do not adhere to it.
About authors
Ekaterina Borisova
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Science
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