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Saudi Arabia is talking with the USA to sign a nuclear deal: probably civilian, and possibly without safeguards1.

It is very likely that the US congress would block such a deal without safeguards2,3.

  • Why is Saudi Arabia so late in acquiring nuclear techs?
  • Why are Saudis in the USA for a nuclear deal when they can get those techs anywhere in the Eurasia?
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    Please add sources to your question. – Martin Schröder Apr 16 '18 at 10:59
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I challenge your premise: Even Saudi Arabia (SA) needs a future carbon neutral power supply (their oil will eventually run out). So they are looking at nuclear energy (although renewable energy would be much simpler IMHO).

Regarding safeguards:

From an official and public standpoint, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, having signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and is a member of the coalition of countries demanding a Nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

I'm sure that any sale of nuclear technology from the US to SA will come heavy safe guards; otherwise the NPT can be tossed in the waste bin - and nobody wants that.

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    Point taken, but they don't need it now, and, as you are aware they have a lot of desert where Solar would do very well. So it may be that they would not be able to make a rational case for nuclear energy in the next 50 years. – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 11:31
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Saudi Arabia feels threatened by Iran. Saudi is mainly Sunni Muslim while Iran is mainly Shi'ite Muslim. These two sects are at war with each other, especially since the removal of the Sunni government in Iraq by the USA and hangers on.

Iran is halfway to getting an atom bomb already. Possession of nuclear weapons by Iran would threaten the current Hegemon of the area, Israel. Saudi Arabia also has reasonable fears and wants to be on an equal footing with Iran, so they want a civilian nuclear program so that they can hide, or pretend to hide, a weapons development program underneath it. In this way they hope to prevent Iran becoming the hegemon, a hope they share with Israel.

Why SA is so late: SA is run by an small elite of a few thousand members of the Saud family who have gotten most of the oil wealth. These guys have, until now, had no interest in educating the masses for fear of revolution and have habitually imported technical expertise rather than face the hazard of educating their own people and then getting strung up by them. So that's one reason. Another might be that they, SA, provided a number of people who flew aircraft into the twin towers. Why would the USA, their greatest "friend", help the Saud family get started with Nukes and then see them deposed and replaced by hard-core Sunni fanatics?

Why don't the Sauds get the technology elsewhere? They might. Pakistan did, Libya did. But to do so would definitely sour their relationship with Uncle Sam and Israel.

  • Why would the USA, their greatest "friend", help the Saud family get started with Nukes and then see them deposed and replaced by hard-core Sunni fanatics? - why would USA sell $12 billion of other cutting edge weapon systems including THAAD when Saudis are already procuring S-400? – user17569 Apr 15 '18 at 20:25
  • And, this? verdict.co.uk/saudi-deals-crown-prince-royal-tour – user17569 Apr 15 '18 at 20:28
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    @why. Why don't you try providing an alternative answer? You seem to be well-informed. – Aethelbald Apr 15 '18 at 20:33
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    @Miller86, It's not clear to me that USA would allow SA to buy, say from North Korea, or Pakistan. The long term political stability of SA is not assured and the US-prefered nuclear hegemon is Israel. Would Israel agree to a nuclear SA? – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 11:31
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    I get your point about the elite, but I still think a nuclear-armed Saudi is a distinct possibility - we'll agree to disagree however as this is moving somewhat away from the question! – Miller86 Apr 16 '18 at 12:18
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Why is Saudi Arabia so late in acquiring nuclear techs?

For the last half-century, Saudi Arabia's economy has been built almost totally on petrol. With huge ressources available, there was no incentives for Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear energy : they already produce cheap electricity by burning petrol.

The perspective of decreasing production in the next decades when some of the country's reserves of oil will be exhausted, a growing domestic demand for electricity, and possibly ecological considerations, justify that they switch strategy nowadays and start exploring alternative sources of energy.

Why are Saudis in the USA for a nuclear deal when they can get those techs anywhere in the Eurasia?

USA are the main strategic and economic partner of Saudi Arabia, so it is just natural that Saudi try to make a deal with USA. In case that partnership fails, they will probably give it a try with France, UK or China.

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