Saudi Arabia developed a nuclear energy policy after quietly meeting with the US energy secretary Rick Perry

  • Saudi Arabia has approved a national policy for nuclear energy that will be used for “peaceful purposes.”
  • It is the first time the country has spoken about the program since a US-Saudi meeting on the matter earlier this month.
  • The big question at the negotiating table was reportedly whether Saudi Arabia should have to sign an agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Saudi Arabia’s renewed push towards nuclear power may be linked to the growing threat of Iran in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed its plans for nuclear energy for the first time since a US-Saudi delegation discussed the project earlier this month.

The Ministry of Culture and Information said in a statement to Business Insider that its new policy on nuclear energy would ensure that “all nuclear activities will be restricted to peaceful purposes, within the framework defined by international legislations, treaties and conventions.”

The statement added that the country remained “committed to complying with the principles of transparency in regulatory and operational aspects, and conforming to nuclear safety and security standards.”

A nuclear energy plan was initially approved by the Saudi government in July 2017 but finalised details on the number of proposed energy plants or global partners have not yet been disclosed.

This is the first time Saudi officials have acknowledged plans to advance their nuclear program following a meeting with the US earlier this month.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry led an inter-agency delegation that met with Saudi officials in London to discuss the nation’s “civil nuclear program,” a spokesperson for the Energy Department told Bloomberg.

A potential deal could involve up to 16 reactors across the next 25 years, and cost upwards of $US80 million, Bloomberg reported.

The big question at the negotiating table was reportedly whether a US-Saudi deal would require a 123 Agreement that usually serves as a prerequisite for negotiations and ensures countries agree to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia has previously refused to completely eliminate the prospect of enriching uranium, citing the the ability of its rival Iran to enrich uranium as part of the 2015 nuclear accord put in place to stop the country from achieving nuclear weapons.