SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 8 December 2023, Friday |

Saudi Arabia says it plans tougher IAEA checks on its nuclear activities

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it has decided to end light-touch oversight of its nuclear activities by the UN atomic watchdog and switch to full-blown safeguards.

Saudi Arabia has a nascent nuclear program that it wants to expand to eventually include activities like uranium enrichment.

Riyadh has yet to fire up its first nuclear reactor, allowing its program to still be monitored under the Small Quantities Protocol (SQP), an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that exempts less advanced states from many reporting obligations and inspections.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has been calling on the dozens of states that still have SQPs to amend or rescind them, calling them a “weakness” in the global non-proliferation regime. The IAEA has for years been in talks with Riyadh on making the switch to a so-called Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) for years.

“The Kingdom has recently taken the decision to rescind its Small Quantities Protocol and to move to the implementation of a full-scope Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the IAEA’s annual General Conference, speaking through an interpreter.

If Saudi Arabia were to introduce nuclear material into its first nuclear reactor, a low-power research reactor in Riyadh that is near completion, it would void the SQP and its exemptions from regular safeguards.

Prince Abdulaziz did not say whether on top of a regular CSA Saudi Arabia planned to sign up to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which allows for more wide-ranging and intrusive checks such as snap inspections.

 

    Source:
  • alarabiya