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Saudi Arabia / Talks Continuing With US About New Nuclear Says Perry

By David Dalton
12 November 2019

Talks Continuing With US About New Nuclear Says Perry
US energy secretary Rick Perry.
US energy secretary Rick Perry confirmed that talks are continuing with Riyadh about supporting Saudi Arabia’s planned civilian nuclear programme.

Mr Perry told an energy forum that Saudi Arabia wants to sign a ‘123 agreement’ with the US.

A 123 agreement sets out rules governing US nuclear cooperation with other nations.

Under the terms of a 123 agreement, Riyadh must sign an accord with Washington committing to the peaceful use of nuclear technology before US companies can compete for its nuclear energy projects in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh is reported to have been unwilling to commit to a deal that would rule out the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel.

Reports earlier this year said Saudi Arabia plans to issue a tender in 2020 to construct its first two commercial nuclear power reactors and is discussing the project with US and other potential suppliers.

The world’s top oil exporter wants to diversify its energy mix, adding nuclear power so it can free up more crude for export. But the plans are facing scrutiny in the US because of potential military uses for the technology.

In January Saudi Arabia said it had received offers from five countries to build the first two nuclear power plants in the kingdom. Khalid Al-Sultan, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said the countries are the US, Russia, China, France and South Korea.

At the time the Saudi government said on social media that it had approved a national programme for nuclear energy which stipulates that “all nuclear activities will serve only peaceful purposes within the framework defined by international agreements”.

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