China and Saudi Arabia on Sunday inked an accord that lays the groundwork for the two nations to jointly establish atomic energy facilities and combine efforts in spheres such as the generation of nuclear fuel, the Wall Street Journal reported (see GSN, Dec. 5, 2011).
Riyadh has already signed atomic collaboration agreements with Argentina, France and South Korea. The oil-wealthy nation is also in nuclear trade talks with the Czech Republic, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the report (see GSN, Jan. 11). The deal with Beijing was signed at the conclusion of a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh aspires to construct 16 atomic reactors no later than 2030 at a cost exceeding $100 billion, former Saudi envoy to the United States Turki al-Faisal said in 2011.
Saudi Arabia's ambitious atomic energy plans have caused some consternation, as high-profile figures such as al-Faisal have suggested the country might seek to develop nuclear weapons as a counterweight to Iran, according to earlier reports (Summer Said, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 16).