Saudi Arabia has announced it intends to move towards implementing full International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards as it works towards building its first nuclear power plant.
In a statement to the 67th International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reiterated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s intention to develop “peaceful uses for nuclear energy across various fields”. The Saudi National Atomic Energy Project includes plans to build a nuclear power plant to help meet the sustainable development requirements outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030 roadmap.
“In this regard, the Kingdom has decided recently to rescind the Small Quantities Protocol and implement the full Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement,” he said. “The Kingdom is working, within the framework of its national ecosystem, to establish the necessary mechanisms for this full implementation, following best international practices and experiences. The Kingdom is also working closely with the Agency to leverage its expertise and the advisory services it provides in the field of implementing safeguards to develop the national infrastructure and human capabilities required to support this transition.”
All non-nuclear-weapon states party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – the NPT – are required to conclude Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements (CSAs) with the IAEA and undertake to accept IAEA safeguards on all nuclear material in all peaceful nuclear activities within its territory, under its jurisdiction or carried out under its control anywhere.
Many states that have very limited quantities of nuclear material have concluded Small Quantities Protocols – or SQPs – to their CSAs. These protocols reduce the burden of safeguards implementation for states with little or no nuclear activities.
The minister also reiterated Saudi Arabia’s plans to operate a regional cooperation centre with the IAEA to develop human capabilities in the areas of preparedness and response to radiological and nuclear emergencies, and other regulatory aspects at national, regional, and international levels.
Saudi Arabia has established the Nuclear Energy Holding Company to act as the country’s nuclear developer, and according to the 2023 edition of World Nuclear Association’s Nuclear Fuel Report, plans initially to build two 1.4 GWe nuclear reactors with a goal of increasing nuclear capacity to 17 GWe by 2040.