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UN nuclear watchdog, China, helping Saudi Arabia develop uranium

The International Atomic Energy Agency is working with a Chinese-affiliated institute to find and develop uranium for Saudi Arabia, although UN nuclear watchdog inspectors do not have access to the kingdom, according to a report on Tuesday.

The IAEA released a document showing that it is helping the kingdom produce nuclear fuel – a key component of nuclear power and weapons, Bloomberg News reported.

At the same time, Chinese geologists are working with their colleagues in Saudi Arabia to find uranium deposits in the northwestern part of the country, and promising sites were presented to the Saudi Deputy Minister of Mines at the end of last year, according to a statement from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology. the report.

The institute has collaboration agreements with the IAEA, Bloomberg reported.

“It is very important that the Agency is present and involved in any country that wants to carry out any activity related to the nuclear fuel cycle,”

; said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Saudi Arabia has said it wants to develop uranium for peaceful use, but Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has said it would develop nuclear if regional rival Iran did.

Grossi also said the Vienna-based agency has given the Saudis limited information on how to make fuel from uranium, and is negotiating with Saudi officials that inspectors can monitor how fuel is produced and used.

Grossi said the agency is considering rolling back those rules if it can determine that nuclear development is for peaceful purposes.

“I approach them and tell them that by 2020 this is no longer enough,” Grossi said. “We must be up to a minimum standard.”

Saudi Arabia, which is close to completing the construction of its first reactor, is one of 31 nations subject to old IAEA rules banning inspectors.

The Geological Survey referred follow-up questions from Bloomberg to China National Nuclear Corp.

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