Director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, said his agency has asked Saudi Arabia to provide assurances regarding its use of the first nuclear reactor to be built in the kingdom.
Amano told reporters on Friday that the IAEA has urged Saudi Arabia to sign the comprehensive safeguards agreement under which it pledges not to use fissile material in the production of weapons.
“Saudi Arabia may import nuclear material by the end of the year,” Amano said. However, he pointed out that nuclear projects are often faced with delays.
According to the UN nuclear watchdog chief, Saudi Arabia has previously signed the small quantities protocol (SQP) which limits inspections in countries with small nuclear programs. However, now that the kingdom intends to import large quantities of nuclear material, the agency has proposed to annul the previous agreement and replace it with the comprehensive safeguards agreement.
Amano explained that Riyadh has not yet responded to the agency’s request.
“They didn’t say no. They didn’t say yes, and they are now giving it thought. This is where we stand now,” he said.