The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Inside Saudi Arabia’s Global Push for Nuclear Power

For years, Saudi Arabia has pressed the United States to help it develop a nuclear energy program, as Saudi leaders look beyond oil to power their country.

But talks about a nuclear partnership have dragged on, largely because the Saudi government refuses to agree to conditions that are intended to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons or helping other nations do so, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.

Frustrated Saudi officials are now exploring options to work with other countries, including China, Russia or a U.S. ally.

At the same time, they are renewing a push with the United States — their preferred partner — by offering to try to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for U.S. cooperation on building nuclear reactors and other guarantees.

New details of the Saudi efforts provide a window into the recent difficulties and distrust between Washington and Riyadh, and into the foreign policy that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pursuing: greater independence from the United States as he expands partnerships with other world powers, including China.

Some analysts say that is part of a strategy to pressure Washington to work with the Saudi government on its own terms; others say the prince sees an emerging multipolar world in which the United States plays a less dominant role. Saudi Arabia also agreed in March to a diplomatic rapprochement with Iran after China acted as broker.

The Saudi nuclear efforts raise a specter of proliferation that makes some American officials nervous: Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has said that Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does. Any civilian nuclear program has dual-use elements that could aid a country in producing weapons-grade material.

But Prince Mohammed also believes he has the right to exploit the kingdom’s potentially vast uranium deposits for both energy and export. That would create a new revenue source for the kingdom and could give Saudi Arabia greater geopolitical heft. China is already working with Saudi Arabia on uranium prospecting.

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Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

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The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.