Rightness, prestige, and a grain of securitisation: Saudi Arabia’s nuclear politics
The Stimson Center (3 March 2023)
Why does Saudi Arabia want to acquire the nuclear fuel cycle?
In January 2023, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman announced that, given a recent discovery of indigenous uranium reserves, the Kingdom intends to advance its plans to develop a front-end nuclear fuel-cycle infrastructure, with both a domestic and an international dimension. The Saudi minister specified that this might involve joint ventures with willing partners and that Saudi Arabia would comply with international standards of transparency.
His comments were not particularly surprising. At a meeting in 2022, bin Salman had stated that the Kingdom planned to exploit its vast uranium resources “in the most transparent way.” That did not prevent international concern from growing over Saudi intentions amid a regional context in which Iran is reported to be enriching uranium at ever-higher levels.