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Friday, June 10, 2005
Saudis' request to halt to nuclear monitoring surprises IAEA

Saudis' request to halt to nuclear monitoring surprises IAEA
Geostrategy-Direct, www.geostrategy-direct.com, June 14, 2005

LONDON - The International Atomic Energy Agency has approved a request from
Saudi Arabia that would, in effect, end the monitoring of nuclear activities
in the Arab kingdom.

Diplomatic sources said the agency was surprised by the Saudi request. They
pointed out that in 2004 Saudi Arabia announced that it had no intention to
acquire a nuclear reactor for energy production.

Western diplomatic sources said the IAEA decided to accept a Saudi request
to significantly reduce monitoring. The sources said the agency agreed to
recommend the Saudi request to the 35-nations of the IAEA's board, scheduled
to meet on June 13.

If approved, Saudi Arabia would join more than 70 countries that enjoy
IAEA's trust. These countries have not been required to report nuclear
facilities to the agency until six months prior to operation.

The agency has asked IAEA board members to implement an arrangement that
would reduce monitoring of Saudi nuclear activities to a minimum. The
request to participate in the so-called "Small Quantities Protocol" means
that Saudi Arabia would no longer be required to report the procurement of
up to 10 tons of natural uranium, 20 tons of depleted uranium and a kilogram
of plutonium.

Ten tons of natural uranium could be converted into fissile material
required to produce two atomic bombs.

The Saudi request was submitted in 2004 during the agency's examination of
Iran's nuclear program, which the United States asserted was meant to
produce nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia has remained silent on Teheran's
program, but sources said Riyad has also been linked to the Pakistani
nuclear network led by Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan exported components and
nuclear equipment to Iran, Libya and perhaps Syria.

In 2003, Saudi Arabia reportedly signed an agreement with Pakistan on
nuclear cooperation. Neither country acknowledged the cooperation, said to
have also included missile development.

Diplomatic sources said the United States has urged Saudi Arabia to shelve
its efforts to sign the Small Quantities Protocol. They said Riyad has not
responded.

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