Satellite photos show nearly completed nuclear reactor in Saudi Arabia

Saudi nuclearSatellite photos show that Saudi Arabia is edging closer to completing the construction of a nuclear reactor in Riyadh. This development continues to prompt concerns that the country may be inching closer to building nuclear weapons. The oil kingdom is a signatory to the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). But in 2011, in a document known as Vision 2030, the Saudi leadership announced that it would seek to “diversify” its energy resources by building a series of nuclear reactors.

Last week year (thanks, S.K. for the correction -ed.), Bloomberg published a series of photographs showing the progression of Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactor facility, which is located at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Riyadh. The facility is being built by INVAP, a nuclear reactor construction firm which is owned by the government of Argentina. At least six American companies have been authorized by the US Department of Energy to participate in the project in various ways.

The photographs published by Bloomberg showed that the construction project, which was initiated in April 2017, was progressing with uncharacteristic speed, and was in all likelihood nearing completion. Notably the steer vessel, which will eventually contain the reactor’s nuclear fuel, was almost complete.

Currently the oil Kingdom observes the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “small quantities protocol”, which exempts countries in possession of non-existent or negligible quantities of nuclear material from undergoing inspections. But once the KACST facility becomes operational, Saudi Arabia would be obligated to open it up to international inspectors.

The Saudi monarchy insists that the purpose of its nuclear program is peaceful and claims that it complies with international agreements. It also claims that it will make all its nuclear facilities available to inspectors, and that it is honoring nuclear non-proliferation treaties, including the (NPT). However, in 2018 the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, told the American television channel CBS that the oil kingdom would “follow suit as soon as possible” if its regional rival, Iran, developed a nuclear arsenal.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 April 2020 | Permalink | Research credit: J.R.

Saudi Arabia closer than Iran to acquiring nukes, BBC reports

Saudi Arabia is able to obtain atomic bombs “at will” through a secret pact with Pakistan, and can acquire nuclear weapons far quicker than Iran, according to the BBC. On Wednesday, the British broadcaster’s flagship Newsnight television program cited “a senior decision maker” at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in claiming that Pakistan had already built nuclear weapons ordered by Saudi Arabia. The weapons, which include “finished warheads” that can be affixed on long-range missiles, “are now sitting ready for delivery” as soon as Riyadh asks for them, according to the BBC. The program’s producers spoke to an unnamed “senior Pakistani official” who allegedly confirmed in general terms the secret agreement between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The pact is said to require the Pakistanis to build and maintain a nuclear arsenal for use by the oil kingdom. Another Pakistani source, identified by Newsnight as “a one-time intelligence officer”, told the program that Pakistan maintained “a certain number of warheads” and that “if the Saudis were to ask for them at any given time they would immediately be transferred”. Newsnight’s diplomatic and defense editor, Mark Urban, wrote on the BBC website that Pakistan may already have transferred several Shaheen ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia, in preparation for delivering nuclear warheads later on. This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced in public, though it is rare for Pakistani intelligence insiders to be quoted in such reports. Claims of a Saudi-Pakistani nuclear pact have been circulating in diplomatic circles since the mid-1990s, with some sources suggesting that the Saudis funded the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in exchange for access to nuclear warheads. Read more of this post