Saudi Arabia warns of unchecked nuclear proliferation

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Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons at a meeting of the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom shared the international community’s concerns that Iran’s nuclear research activities are not transparent.

He said Saudi Arabia is concerned about the potential for nuclear weapon development in the region and will continue to support the peaceful uses of nuclear research and technology.

Saudi Arabia remains committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a 1968 international agreement designed to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, he said.

Since its inception, the treaty has been the foundation of global efforts to slow the nuclear arms race and give priority to civilian nuclear research.

Last year, former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif threatened that Iran could withdraw from the treaty he signed before the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran.

“If the Europeans continue their inappropriate behavior or send the acts of Iran to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” warned Zarif.

On Sunday, Prince Abdulaziz also met with Raphael Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, where Mr Grossi said they had discussed the “Kingdom’s nuclear power program and the role of the legal and regulatory framework in support of it”.

Saudi Arabia and the IAEA have intensified their cooperation in recent years, although the kingdom has had a civilian nuclear research program since the 1970s.

In March, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud discussed non-proliferation with Mr Grossi, a conversation that Mr Grossi described as positive.

Discussions followed a meeting in September at which Mr. Grossi praised the Kingdom’s contribution to the IAEA and noted that the organization is working with the Kingdom on a range of nuclear-related activities.

Mr Grossi said the kingdom was “interested in the development of nuclear energy, of course for peaceful purposes”.

“We are working to provide (Saudi Arabia) the necessary support,” he said.

Updated: September 21, 2021, 7:44 am


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