VIENNA: Saudi Arabia said on Monday it has decided to end light-touch oversight of its nuclear activities by the UN atomic watchdog and switch to full-blown safeguards, a change the agency has been demanding for years.
Saudi Arabia has a nascent nuclear programme that it wants to expand to eventually include activities like proliferation-sensitive uranium enrichment. It is unclear where its ambitions end, since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said for years it will develop nuclear weapons if regional rival Iran does.
Riyadh has yet to fire up its first nuclear reactor, allowing its programme to still be monitored under the Small Quantities Protocol, an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that exempts less advanced states from many reporting obligations and inspections.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023