U.S. nuclear companies invited to help launch Saudi Arabia’s dangerous “Atomic Age”
December 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is extending invitations to the U.S. nuclear industry to launch the Gulf Region’s most ambitious nuclear power program.

The Saudi atomic energy plan is to build as many as 17 nuclear power plants by 2032.  The Saudi Arabia government has stated that its atomic power program will be “self-sufficient” in the production of nuclear fuel at 5% enriched uranium-235 and purely directed for civilian power development. The pronouncement comes as Saudi energy officials remain silent on their past refusal to not pursue high-grade uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies as military weapons production facilities. In any case, the introduction of nuclear materials will significantly increase instability and tensions in the region.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the Saudi Arabia capitol in Riyad for talks on the nuclear deal that would include negoitations with the bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Corporation to build two of the nuclear power projects despite the company financially abandoning its AP1000 construction projects for the two reactor units halted in South Carolina and two more units teetering on cancellation in Georgia.

Saudia Arabia is similarly reaching out for nuclear power technology from Russia, South Korea, France and China.

Presently, the neighboring United Arab Emirates leads the regional atomic race with the near completion and projected 2018 operation of the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power station near Abu Dhabi using South Korea’s Generation III APR1400 pressurized water reactors. The other three units are slated to be completed and operational by 2020.

Tensions continue to mount in the region following claims that  Houthi rebels have launched Iranian-made cruise missiles from Yemen into both Saudia Arabia and the UAE where the massive Barakah nuclear power construction project was the intended though missed target. Once operational, however, any of these reactors potentially present pre-deployed radiologically-enhanced weapons for mass destruction if successfully hit by high explosive-laden cruise missiles or suicidal ground and water borne attack teams.

Article originally appeared on Beyond Nuclear (http://www.beyondnuclear.org/).
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