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Saudi may enrich uranium for N-power plants

Dubai, June 17, 2010

Saudi Arabia may mine and enrich uranium to fuel power plants if it embarks on a civilian nuclear energy programme, a consultant said.

Saudi Arabia would want to play a role in as many of the stages of generating nuclear power as possible eventually, said David Cox, president for energy at the UK branch of Finnish management consultancy Poyry.

"Enrichment could happen there and the same with mining uranium...," Cox said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "But outsourcing will happen initially."     

The United Nations has just slapped a fourth round of sanctions on Saudi regional rival Iran for refusing to halt enrichment, which with further refinement can yield materials for weapons.

Western powers fear Iran is using its nuclear programme to develop weapons, while Tehran says it needs power generation to meet rapidly rising demand.

Earlier this month, Saudi's King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy appointed Poyry to help prepare a draft of the national vision and high-level strategy in the area of nuclear and renewable energy.

The kingdom instructed Poyry to evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of its involvement in all stages of the nuclear power generation cycle, Cox said.

"They want to be involved in as many aspects as possible and our study is to evaluate what part of it is possible at a reasonable economic cost," he added.

"The study we are conducting right now will be completed in a couple of months and includes an overall strategy from technical, economical and institutional dimensions for starting the development of nuclear plants."    

UAE became the first country in the Gulf Arab region to embark upon a nuclear power generation programme last year. But the UAE decided from an early stage to import fuel for the plants, as it sought to reassure the international community it had no military intentions with its programme. - Reuters




Tags: Saudi | Nuclear | power | uranium | Poyry |

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