Saudis in Talks on Nuclear Agreement

(AP/Washington Post) George Jahn - Saudi Arabia has quietly begun talks on a UN-sanctioned agreement that could curtail any outside probe of its atomic intentions. Diplomats report heightening worry stemming from past Saudi nuclear interest, coupled with the timing of Saudi efforts to sign on to the IAEA's small quantities protocol that would exempt the country from most of the agency's control authority. The protocol frees countries from reporting the possession of up to 10 tons of natural uranium - or up to 20 tons of depleted uranium - and 2.2 pounds of plutonium. Experts say 10 tons of natural uranium can be processed into two nuclear warheads. While the Saudi government insists it has no interest in going nuclear beyond a small research reactor built in the 1970s, in the past two decades it has been linked to prewar Iraq's nuclear program, to Pakistan, and to the Pakistani nuclear black marketeer A.Q. Khan. It has also expressed interest in Pakistani missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and credible reports say Saudi officials have discussed a nuclear option as a deterrent.

2005-04-20 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive