Saudi Arabia Approves National Policy for Atomic Energy Program
The Saudi government approved on Tuesday the national policy of its atomic energy program. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz had chaired the cabinet session in Riyadh. Asharq Al-Awsat reports in its article Saudi Arabia Approves National Policy for Atomic Energy Program that the policy insists on limiting nuclear activities to peaceful purposes and calls for enhanced safety measures as well as the use of best practices for radioactive waste management, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Kingdom will soon prepare to award contracts for its first nuclear power plants.
Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is seeking nuclear power to diversify its energy supply mix in order to free up oil to boost exports.
The policy announcement comes ahead of a visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to the United States on March 19-22, which is likely to see efforts to reach a civilian nuclear cooperation accord with Washington. The Kingdom has accelerated plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next two decades, officials and analysts say, at a cost of some $80 billion. Negotiations are underway with the United States for its agreement to export technology needed for their construction.
Besides the US company Westinghouse, Russian, French, Chinese and South Korean firms have all been seeking the Saudi contracts. Saudi Arabia has signed cooperation agreements with over a dozen countries in recent years to boost nuclear cooperation, including France, China and Russia.