Russia expresses interest in Saudi nuclear plans

Russia’s energy minister has said the two countries signed a nuclear cooperation deal in March



Russia has expressed an interest in Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop its nuclear power sector.

The kingdom plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years at a cost of more than $80bn, with the first to come online in 2022, according to the World Nuclear Association.

In an interview earlier this week, the country’s energy minister Alexander Novak told Asharq Al-Awsat that Russia supports Saudi Arabia’s use of civilian nuclear power.

“The ambitions of the Saudi government speak for themselves: The kingdom plans to build 16 nuclear reactors in 25 years. They will produce 20 per cent of required electric power,” he was quoted as saying.

He added that the kingdom faced challenges because no existing nuclear power infrastructure.

Russia helped Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran bring its first nuclear plant online in 2011 and has revealed plans to build two more with the country in Bushehr despite the controversy surrounding the programme.

Nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were only lifted in January after long negotiations

Read: Iran nuclear deal takes effect, international sanctions lifted

Saudi Arabia has strongly opposed the programme and the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Novak was quoted as saying Russia and Saudi Arabia has formed a deal to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy in March covering the establishment of nuclear reactors and desalination plants and radioactive waste processing.

The neighbouring UAE is currently developing its own nuclear power programme, with construction at the country’s Barakah plant to be completed in 2020.

It has partnered with Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which will provide staff for the facility.

Read: Korea Hydro & Nuclear staff to operate Abu Dhabi’s Barakah plant

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