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September 2, 2014 10:43 am

Saudis Announce Plan to Build 1st Nuclear Reactor

avatar by Dave Bender

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Wiki Commons.

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Energy officials in Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday that they are embarking on a plan to build a nuclear reactor “for peaceful purposes,” Israel’s NRG News reported, quoting the London-based “Al-Hayat” Arabic-language daily.

Senior sources in the Muslim kingdom told the newspaper that construction of the reactor is expected to begin before the end of the calendar year.

“Construction of the first Saudi nuclear reactor will take ten years, according to the plan, although we hope that we can complete the task in less time,” the newspaper said, quoting Saudi sources.

The kingdom’s ultimate goal, the report stated, is to establish four nuclear reactors throughout the country.

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Meanwhile, nuclear industry monitor, the World Nuclear Association (WNA) said, in a report released in May, that the kingdom’s goal is, in fact, 16 nuclear power reactors, “to be built over the next 20 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, with the first reactor on line in 2022.”

The Saudis hope to reach “17 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2032,” which would supply 15 percent of their projected needs by then.

“The development of atomic energy is essential to meet the Kingdom’s growing requirements for energy to generate electricity, produce desalinated water and reduce reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources,” Saudi officials said in 2010.

The Australian reported in mid August, that the Kingdom and China’s state-owned National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) will collaborate on nuclear and renewable energy, according to a deal signed between the sides in 2012.

Israeli officials have long maintained that the nuclear progress of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor and rival, would set off a regional nuclear arms race.

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