Saudi Arabia formalized its intention to develop civilian nuclear energy capabilities Friday by announcing that it would build a nuclear power plant, the Australian reported (see GSN, Dec. 3, 2008).
The plan, disclosed by Saudi Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah al-Hosain in an interview with the newspaper al-Watan, came amid concerns that a growing number of Middle Eastern states might develop atomic energy programs as a step toward establishing nuclear weapons capabilities (see GSN, Oct. 8, 2008; John Lyons, The Australian, Aug. 22).
Meanwhile, Ecuador has reached a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Russia, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
"Yesterday the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corp. (Rosatom) ... to carry out research in technologies and nuclear devices that may effectively be used in our country," Ecuador announced in a press release.
The deal would allow both countries to participate in the joint development of uranium mines as well as nuclear reactors for energy production and scientific study. Russia could also assist with nuclear fuel production and help to develop a nuclear regulatory system for Ecuador, which currently lacks any atomic energy capabilities (RIA Novosti, Aug. 21).