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Saudi Arabia ‘a year away from nuclear reactor’

FEARS grew that Saudi Arabia may develop a nuclear weapon after satellite images yesterday showed the reactionary Gulf state is only about a year away from establishing a reactor.

Nuclear expert Robert Kelley stressed that while the site appears to be small and intended for research and training purposes, it would have to abide by an agreement that requires inspections by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), before nuclear fuel can be inserted into the reactor.

Mr Kelley said it was surprising “how non-transparent” the kingdom has been in the process of building the reactor and “how they seem very cavalier about modifying their arrangements with the IAEA.”

Concerns were raised last week over the kingdom’s ability to develop a nuclear arsenal after United States President Donald Trump agreed a deal to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia.

Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman claimed Saudi Arabia could build a nuclear capability in response to regional developments in an interview with US broadcaster CBS last year.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he said.

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