November 8, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1350

Saudi Columnist: Saudi Arabia Should Begin Producing Nuclear Energy for Peaceful Purposes

November 8, 2006
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 1350

In an article published in the Saudi daily Al-Iqtisadiyya, titled "Now Is the Time to Return to the Saudi Nuclear Reactor," Saudi economic journalist Amin Sa'ati said that developments in the region require Saudi Arabia to urgently formulate a plan to build nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes.

The following are excerpts from the article:[1]

"In Light of Current Events in the Region, the Time Has Come to Renew the Saudi Nuclear Program"

"Two months ago American President George Bush declared that within 10 years the U.S. will no longer be in need of the Middle East's oil, and that it is close to acquiring alternative energy at a cost much lower than the cost of oil.

"Two months ago Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Sa'ud Al-Faisal visited Iran and declared that international law gives Iran the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. [Likewise,] last month foreign ministers of Islamic countries met in Azerbaijan and declared that Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"At present, in light of current events in the region, the time has come to renew the Saudi nuclear program. This need [derives] from the necessity for new and cheap energy sources, since countries have collapsed because they did not have cheap energy like nuclear energy. It seems that this is the appropriate time to return to the subject of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty supports the existence of nuclear energy programs for peaceful purposes in member nations...

"The reports of the International Energy Agency indicate that all of the industrialized nations and some of the developing nations use nuclear energy, such that 32 nations use nuclear energy, and there is a sum total of 443 active reactors and 26 [more] reactors are being built... It is saddening that the percentage of nuclear energy out of total energy consumption in Saudi Arabia is zero.

"The sciences of nuclear energy for peaceful [purposes] are the sciences of the future, for the world today suffers from severe crises in the areas of water and electricity. The crises over the water issue will lead in the near future – as scientists and experts say – to the outbreak of wars in many regions in the world, and especially in our Arab region and in the Middle East region. Moreover, the expected depletion of oil [resources] will face the world with an acute energy crisis, alongside the water crisis."

"Nuclear Energy is the Only Alternative to Oil"

"On this basis, developed countries have begun to review their considerations, have accepted the idea of nuclear energy [for peaceful purposes], and have vigorously turned to [developing] the sciences of nuclear energy. This is because they have begun to understand that nuclear energy is the only alternative to oil and is an important economic resource for the production of electricity and water.

"In order to return to the Saudi nuclear [program], we need to begin to take a number of steps, the most important of which is the issuing of a royal decree to establish an 'Independent Organization for Nuclear Energy' that will determine and estimate the economic cost of and the expected gain from various energy options: oil, [natural] gas, nuclear energy, renewable energy, etc. [It should also] conduct research on the economic benefits of the use of nuclear energy, in the near future and in the distant future. It would be advantageous to determine the sum of Saudi human resources – those that we have and those that we do not – required for research, administration, and professional needs... Likewise, an encompassing view should be developed on the impact of nuclear energy on development and modernization programs in Saudi Arabia...

"There is a pressing need to immediately begin developing a program for the building of nuclear energy reactors for peaceful purposes, especially since the great amount of money we have makes it possible for us to invest in a nuclear program without this [adversely] affecting [other] national development programs that are being carried out. The [Saudi] Kingdom is called upon now, more than at any other time, to enter the 'nuclear club' for peaceful purposes, since this is its legitimate right, especially when its position in the international community requires it to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"Having nuclear programs for peaceful purposes has become, in today's world, one of the most important elements in achieving progress and growth. The nuclear program will in the future be an important resource in the ongoing national development [in Saudi Arabia]. If we have [the funds in] the budget, there are brilliant Saudi students who are studying [this subject] in the engineering departments in Saudi universities, and who aspire to work in the nuclear field. It is urgent for us to begin the nuclear project, which we have been very tardy in putting into operation."


[1] Al-Iqtisadiyya (Saudi Arabia), October 15, 2006.

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