MOSCOW, (BM) – Chinese companies help Saudi Arabia to produce uranium concentrate (the so-called yellow cake), learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing news agency News.ru.
Read more: US sold powerful radar systems to Saudis as part of missile defense in the region
Western officials are convinced of this, who fear that the Saudi ruling house plans to develop its military nuclear program to the detriment of the balance of power in the Middle East. The absolute unaccountability of Riyadh adds to the worries.
Western officials told The Wall Street Journal that the Saudi Arabian authorities, with the help of two Chinese firms, are building an enterprise in the north-west of the country to create concentrate, which is obtained from the processing of uranium ore. Construction work, according to their estimates, is currently underway in the desert near the city of Al-Ula.
The Wall Street Journal appealed to the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Energy for comments, but they “categorically denied” information about the construction of a certain enterprise to obtain a “yellow pie” in the area indicated in the publication.
However, the department confirmed the conclusion of a contract with Chinese companies for the development of mineral deposits in a number of areas of the kingdom. The extraction of these resources, including uranium, is a key component of the diversification strategy of the Saudi economy, the Ministry of Energy stressed.
In September 2019, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdel Aziz bin Salman announced plans to mine and enrich uranium in the future.
With regard to the nuclear program, we are acting with caution, – said the head of the Ministry of Energy. – Ultimately, we would like to move forward in the production and enrichment of uranium.
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According to him, Riyadh plans to start with two nuclear reactors for research, but he did not name the time frame in which it is planned to start such research.
The beginning of construction in the kingdom of the first research nuclear reactor on the basis of the Center for Science and Technology. King Abdel Aziz was laid in November 2018. This was preceded by the decision of the Saudi government in July 2017 to approve a project for the development of a peaceful atom, the main goal of which is to combat the oil dependence of Riyadh.
This is provided for, among other things, by the Vision 2030 strategic program, a large-scale project of Crown Prince Mohammed. Western agencies estimate that the Saudi ruling house planned to generate 9.5 gigawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 before the oil wars and coronavirus crisis. This included the construction of 16 nuclear reactors in the kingdom.
Since October 2017, Russians have begun to participate in the struggle to build the first nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia, who talked about partnerships not only in the construction of nuclear power plants with powerful power units, but also in the implementation of initiatives with small reactors and non-energy nuclear technologies. Companies from America, China, South Korea and France were also candidates for the construction of a large nuclear power plant in Saudi Arabia.
The situation when Saudi Arabia could turn to the PRC for help in such a sensitive area is causing concern for American officials, who believe that Crown Prince Mohammed is counting on receiving nuclear weapons, and not a peaceful atom, as it is declared.
The topic of the Saudi atom is overly politicized in the United States. This became apparent after the 2018 Istanbul murder scandal of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who suffered at the hands of Saudi interrogators on the personal order of the heir to the throne.
The powerful faction of Republican senators in the person of Marco Rubio (Florida), Corey Gardner (Colorado), Rand Paul (Kentucky), Dean Heller (Nevada) and Todd Young (Indiana) then demanded that the Donald Trump administration stop the dialogue with Riyadh about construction of a nuclear power plant in the kingdom.
Read more: Iran is six months away from its first nuclear bomb, the intelligence said
However, the White House continued to show special courtesies to Saudi projects. In reality, the production of uranium concentrate in Saudi Arabia is not subject to formal bans, which adds cause for alarm.
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