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Saudi Arabia plans to use domestic uranium for nuclear fuel

Opec+ Reuters
Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz said that recent exploration had shown a diverse portfolio of uranium in the country

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the kingdom intended to use its domestic uranium for the entire nuclear fuel cycle.

He added that recent exploration had shown a diverse portfolio of uranium in the country.

Saudi Arabia has a nascent nuclear program that it wants to expand.

“The kingdom intends to utilise its national uranium resources, including in joint ventures with willing partners in accordance with international commitments and transparency standards.”

He told a mining industry conference in Riyadh that this would involve “the entire nuclear fuel cycle which involves the production of yellowcake, low enriched uranium and the manufacturing of nuclear fuel both for our national use and of course for export”.

Fellow Gulf state the UAE has the Arab world’s first multi-unit operating nuclear energy plant. The UAE has committed not to enrich uranium itself and not to reprocess spent fuel.

Atomic reactors need uranium enriched to around five percent purity, but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to higher, weapons-grade levels.

This issue has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, and led to the 2015 deal between Tehran and global powers that capped enrichment at 3.67 percent.

The pact unravelled after then-US President Donald Trump exited the deal in 2018, and efforts to salvage the agreement have stalled since September.