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Saudi lays the foundation stone for its first nuclear research reactor as it vies with Iran’s nuclear program

Riyadh: The foundation stone of Saudi’s first nuclear reactor was laid in the presence of Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The state-owned media have announced that the plant would be used to cater to the kingdom’s energy demands. Nevertheless, in the month of May, the Crown Prince had cautioned, “if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Riyadh will do so as well”. The nuclear plant, therefore, appears to be in line with the Crown Prince’s motive.

Last year, Saudi had declared that it would establish an independent nuclear reactor. The Crown Prince explained that the reactor would be launched to serve as an alternative energy resource much required for Saudi’s oil-based economy. Subsequently, Saudi declared they were to construct and initiate 16 nuclear reactors. The first nuclear reactor built was thus, inaugurated in the presence of royalty, Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi claimed it had undertaken efforts for nuclear energy to reduce its dependency on oil and natural gas. The kingdom’s state-owned media have also stated the nuclear reactor was introduced to serve civilian power needs. Even so, Iran and few other international media have questioned the initiative for the nuclear reactor itself. If Saudi, which has abundant reserves of oil and natural gas, were to build a nuclear reactor, it would spark off a nuclear race in the Middle East.

However, Crown Prince Mohammed clarified the plant was merely for the generation of energy and that the kingdom would run the nuclear program in compliance with the international regulations. If the international community could not stop Iran from becoming nuclear-capable, Saudi also cannot be prevented from acquiring the nuclear capability for self-defence, he had admonished. In the meanwhile, reports of Saudi preparing to obtain nuclear arms from Pakistan had surfaced. Moreover, Saudi’s nuclear reactor is indicative of a nuclear race being triggered in the Middle East and may lead to severe consequences in the near future.

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