Russia and Saudi Arabia yesterday signed an agreement to cooperate in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The document was signed by Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko and the president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) Hashim Abdullah Yamani.
Rosatom said the document creates for the first time in the history of Russian-Saudi relations a legal basis for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, in areas that include, among others: the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power and research reactors, including desalination plants and particle accelerators; the provision of nuclear fuel cycle services, including nuclear power plants and research reactors; the management of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management; the production of radioisotopes and their application in industry, medicine and agriculture; and, the education and training of specialists in the field of nuclear energy.
The agreement envisages the formation of a coordination committee for further discussion on the uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as well as the formation of joint working groups to carry out specific projects and research, the exchange of experts, the organization of seminars and workshops, assistance in education and the training of scientific and technical personnel, and the exchange of scientific and technical information.
In March, state-owned R&D companies from Argentina and Saudi Arabia set up a joint venture company, Invania, to develop nuclear technology for Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program. The foundation of Invania, between Taqnia of Saudi Arabia and Invap of Argentina, was announced by Argentina's federal planning ministry and Invap during a visit by the Saudi Arabian consultative assembly, the Shura Council. Invania was established under a nuclear cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in 2011.
Earlier the same month, Saudi Arabia and South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding that could enable at least two South Korean-designed SMART reactors to be built in Saudi Arabia. The two countries are to jointly promote the 330 MWt pressurized water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features in the global market. They signed a cooperation agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in November 2011.
Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.