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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Deals with Iran must preserve nuclear non-proliferation, Saudi Arabia says

Saudi Arabia said the deal must address Iran's 'destabilising behaviours' [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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Concerns are rising over Saudi Arabia's own nuclear programme, which could reportedly produce over 90,000 tonnes of uranium from three deposits.
Saudi Arabia has said that any nuclear deal with Iran must preserve non-proliferation and work towards making the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, the kingdom's official Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The statement issued after Riyadh's weekly cabinet meeting said a deal "has to address Iran's destabilising behaviours and its sponsorship of terrorism in the region to prevent it from any provocative actions in the future".

Iran and Western powers signed a fragile nuclear deal in 2015, however, its future looks uncertain after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

European states have attempted to save the accord, but Riyadh supported Washington's decision to pull-out of the deal and has backed harsher measures against its regional rival

Saudi Arabia's insistence on curbing Iran's nuclear activities has continued amid mounting concerns over Riyadh's own uranium production plans.

Saudi Arabia and China signed an agreement in 2012 on civilian nuclear energy, while the US has also discussed with Riyadh the sale of nuclear technology and reactors.

US arms sales negotiators have said Riyadh must first agree to safeguards in order for such transfers to go ahead but Riyadh appears to have turned to Beijing to bypass these restrictions.

Geologists recently identified reserves in Saudi Arabia that could produce over 90,000 tonnes of uranium from three deposits, located near the site for the controversial NEOM megacity development, a survey report seen by The Guardian revealed.

The reserves have not been confirmed and the region will need to be explored further to confirm them, however, if assumptions are correct it could be the first step for the kingdom towards domestic uranium production.

Doing so opens the country to a potential atomic weapons programme.

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