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Nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia going forward: US

MbS is taking steps to enhance Saudi Arabia's nuclear programme [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 October, 2019

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Saudi Arabia and the United States are in talks to build Riyadh’s nuclear programme.

United States’ Energy Secretary announced on Saturday that Washington is in talks with Saudi Arabia to build their nuclear programme.

Saudi Arabia said it wanted to use nuclear power to look to more sustainable forms of energy. Riyadh wants to pursue a full-cycle nuclear program, including the production and enrichment of uranium for atomic fuel.

In order for US companies to compete for Saudi Arabia’s project, Riyadh would normally need to sign an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear technology with the US.

According to Reuters, there have been difficulties during the discussion because Saudi Arabia is reluctant to sign a deal that would eliminate their chance of enriching uranium or reprocessing fuel.

Both processes are potential pathways to build a nuclear bomb -- something that Saudi Arabia has in the past said they would not rule out.

Last year, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his kingdom would be willing to build a nuclear bomb if Iran builds one.

"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," he said in an excerpt of the interview that aired March 2018 on CBS 'This Morning.'

Read more: Arab states and nuclear energy: Necessity or geopolitical status symbol?

The 33-year-old de-facto leader also used the interview to liken Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as "the new Hitler" because "he wants to expand."

"He wants to create his own project in the Middle East, very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time," he said.

"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."

In November, bin Salman laid the foundation stone for the kingdom's first nuclear research reactor.

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