Saudi Arabia says it plans to extract uranium domestically as part of its nuclear power program and that it sees such move as step toward “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel.
Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, head of the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear plans, said on Monday that extracting its own uranium also makes sense from an economic point of view.
The Saudi official did not specify whether his country was seeking also to enrich and reprocess uranium, which can open up the possibility of military use of the material.
“Regarding the production of uranium in the kingdom, this is a program which is our first step towards self-sufficiency in producing nuclear fuel,” Yamani told a conference organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“We utilize the uranium ore that has been proven to be economically efficient.”
It came two years after the international community reached a nuclear agreement with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, and ended decades of concerns over the essence of Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly said it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons. The country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also issued a fatwa (a religious decree) against production and use of nuclear weapons.
Also on Monday, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Iran has been complying with the nuclear deal it signed with six world powers.