Riyadh Seeks Nuclear Cooperation with South Korea

March 4, 2015  

Leaders of South Korea and Saudi Arabia agreed on Tuesday to look into building more than two small and medium-sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, wrote the Korea Herald. The projects may be worth as much as $2 billion.

During summit talks, President Park Geun-hye and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud discussed ways “to upgrade bilateral relations by strengthening cooperation in energy, creative economy, investment, medical services and information technology.”

Park arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, after a three-day visit to Kuwait. Her four-nation Middle East trip will also include UAE and Qatar.

After the summit, the two leaders observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding aimed at developing South Korea’s SMART reactors and jointly entering the global market.

The SMART reactor, which generates electric power and also desalinates sea water, was designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute with Middle Eastern countries in mind.

Under the agreement, the two countries are set to conduct a three-year preliminary study by 2018 to review the feasibility of constructing SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia.

“The agreement is expected to open opportunities for South Korean firms to participate in Saudi Arabia’s nuclear reactor project,” said An Chong-bum, Park’s senior secretary for economic affairs.

With the agreement, wrote the Herald, the South Korean government expects to win $2 billion worth of nuclear reactor deals in Saudi Arabia and additional orders in the future. The Saudis, who are the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, plan to build more than twelve 8-gigawatt nuclear power plants by 2040 to prepare for growing domestic demand for electricity and to secure new energy sources.

The announcement comes on the day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the US Congress that allowing Iran to continue its nuclear weapons program would unleash a race for nuclear weapons in the region.

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