January 18, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6268

Editorial In Saudi 'Al-Riyadh' Daily Advocates Setting Timetable For Peaceful Saudi Nuclear Program

January 18, 2016
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 6268

Following the implementation of JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions from Iran, the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh published an editorial titled "What Will Happen in 15 Years?", which expresses fear about the future development of Iran's nuclear program. The editorial notes that, by 2031, most of the restrictions that the JCPOA places on Iran will be lifted, leaving this country free to advance its nuclear program as it pleases. It therefore advocates joining the nuclear club and laying down a "road map" for building Saudi nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes that will be ready before 2031.

It should be mentioned that, since the July 15, 2015 announcement of the JCPOA, many articles in the Saudi press have called upon Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to take advantage of the next decade to develop military nuclear programs of their own as a countermeasure to the Iranian nuclear threat that will reemerge after the expiring of the agreement.[1]

The following are excerpts:[2]

"Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said yesterday [January 16, 2016] that the sanctions on his country would be lifted immediately upon the issuing of the IAEA report [announcing] that Iran has met its obligations under the nuclear agreement that was signed with the superpowers in July of last year [2015]. [Even] if we ignore the political and economic implications of this agreement for the region in the near and distant future, there is [nevertheless] one aspect of this agreement that must be taken into account. In 2031, [this] nuclear agreement will be consigned to the U.N. archives, and Iran will be free to do whatever it pleases regarding its nuclear program. This, because most of the restrictions imposed [on Iran] by the articles of this agreement expire in 15 years. In the interim, Iran will enrich uranium to a level of no more than 3.67 percent, which is the safe level. But what happens after 15 years...?

"U.S. President Barack Obama is counting on the [assumption] that, in the course of this [15-year] period, a change will occur in Iran's behavior that is [currently] detrimental to its neighbors. [This] philosophy of the president's stems from his conviction that the minute the Iranian people is allowed a taste of a sanction-free [existence] it will surely become peace-loving. In this situation, [he believes], Iran's policy-makers will not think of advancing towards the manufacture of a nuclear bomb, [because] this would cause trouble for the Iranian regime and the Iranian people, who would refuse to go back to the era of sanctions after tasting freedom from sanctions. The fact is that the American president has thrown the Iranian regime a lifeline that will ensure its survival, and North Korea is an example of how nuclear power can constitute a shield for diseased regimes... This philosophy [of Obama's] should not interest us at all...

"What we need to do, even today, is begin preparing a nuclear program for peaceful purposes so as to gain the necessary knowledge about the nuclear fuel cycle and build nuclear reactors for producing electricity and desalinating water, [thus] varying our energy sources. After all, the [Saudi] kingdom is developing constantly, and according to the data it burns over four million barrels of oil every day in producing electricity, and in 2035 this figure will reach ten million barrels [a day]. The loss of this natural resource and the profits it could generate is therefore estimated at millions of dollars a day.

"Furthermore, the kingdom has the right to enrich uranium up to the internationally permitted level, that is [a level of] 3.75 percent. Saudi Arabia's constructive conduct, which seeks peace with the countries of the region, helps it advance in this direction, as does [the fact that] it eschews all the characteristics of misguided countries that [already] possess this technology. [Such technology] confers international prestige, and this is an undeniable fact - for the nuclear club is a club of elite countries, even if some of them are described as misguided, terror-supporting and members of the Axis of Evil.

"A brief review of the nuclear programs in the region leaves us confident of Saudi Arabia's ability to begin building nuclear reactors and complete them before 2031. The UAE, which means to build four reactors, announced in 2008 its comprehensive policy for developing nuclear energy for civilian purposes. The digging [of the foundations] began in 2012, and now they are working to have the first one operable by 2017. The others will go online gradually by 2020.

"Egypt, which is also experiencing difficulty in meeting its energy needs, announced last year that it and Russia had signed an agreement for building four nuclear reactors [in Egypt], the first of which will become operative in 2024.

"These reports prompt us to set out a timetable or a clear road map for a civilian nuclear program to meet Saudi Arabia's goals. The King Abdallah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy will naturally supervise the [nuclear] program, by virtue of its expertise. 2030 will be set as the date for activating the first nuclear reactor." 




[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6112, Saudi Press: We Must Have A Military Nuclear Program Within A Decade, July 22, 2015.    

[2] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 17, 2016.

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