Thursday, April 2, 2020

First images of KSA nuclear reactor release

Must Read

Genocide is the only option in Balochistan – Pakistani Minister declares

A Pakistani minister in Balochistan, who is de-jure head of security apparatus in the region, has declared that genocide...

Aslam Baloch — The Baloch General – TBP Special report

For seventy years, through ups and downs, successes and failures, with rapid and slow pace, the Balochistan’s...

State’s deadly weapon, Shafiq Mengal – The Balochistan Post report

Strings of suicide bombing in Sindh's Shikarpur city and firing incident on BSO azad's rally in Khuzdar got connected...

Saudi Arabia is nearing completion of its first nuclear reactor, satellite images of the facility show, triggering warnings about the risks of the kingdom using the technology without signing up to the international rules governing the industry, reported Bloomberg

According to Bloomber new agency, the research facility is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, according to images published by GoogleEarth. They’re the first in the public domain to confirm that the program is advancing, showing construction nearing its finish around a columnar vessel that will contain atomic fuel.

The advancement is alarming to arms-control experts because Saudi Arabia has yet to sign up to the international framework of rules other nuclear powers follow to ensure that civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons. Nuclear fuel providers won’t move to supply the unit until new surveillance arrangements have been sealed with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

relates to First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish
A satellite image time series shows development of the site at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology where Saudi Arabia is building its first nuclear reactor. The top image shows just a bare patch of land in April 2017. One year later, the site is lined with construction vehicles and the outlines of a foundation are already apparent. The most recent pictures shows that work on Saudi Arabia’s first reactor is well advanced with the containment vessel already in place.
Source: GoogleEarth

“There’s a very high probability these images show the country’s first nuclear facility,” said Robert Kelley, a former IAEA director who also led the U.S. Department of Energy’s remote sensing laboratory. “It means that Saudi Arabia has to get its safeguards in order.”

Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said in a statement, the facility’s purpose is to “engage in strictly peaceful scientific, research, educational and training activities in full compliance with international agreements.’’ The reactor is being built with transparency, and the kingdom has signed all international non-proliferation treaties, the ministry said, adding that the facility is open to visitors.

While Saudi Arabia has been open about its ambitions to acquire a nuclear plant, less is known about the kinds of monitoring the kingdom intends to put in place. More arms-control experts are scrutinizing Saudi Arabia’s nuclear work because of official statements that the kingdom could try to acquire nuclear weapons.

A little over a year ago, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said the kingdom would develop a bomb if it’s regional rival Iran did so. Those statements raised a a red flag within the nuclear monitoring community which is uneasy that it has more ability to access nuclear sites in Iran than it does in Saudi Arabia.

“The much louder debate in Washington is about whether Saudi Arabia acquires nuclear weapons,” said Sharon Squassoni, a researcher and former diplomat on non-proliferation issues at George Washington University.

The steel vessel was made in Saudi Arabia. It will contain uranium fuel enriched to a purity well short of levels in weapons.

relates to First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish
A steel reactor vessel, manufactured by Zamil Industrial Investment Co.
Source: Zamil Industrial Investment Co.

Saudi Arabia is currently signed up to the IAEA’s so-called Small Quantities Protocol, a set of rules that will become obsolete once it needs atomic fuel. It hasn’t adopted the rules and procedures that would allow nuclear inspectors to access potential sites of interest.

In the rarefied world of nuclear monitoring, the IAEA is responsible for sending hundreds of inspectors around the world to look after and maintain a vast network of cameras, seals and sensors. Their job is to account for gram levels of enriched uranium, ensuring that the key ingredient needed for nuclear power isn’t diverted to weapons. Without submitting to tighter IAEA monitoring, the kingdom would struggle to fuel its reactor.

“Saudi Arabia will have to move to a full scope comprehensive safeguards agreement with subsidiary arrangements before the unit is fueled,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, who is Argentina’s envoy to the IAEA.

The aim of monitoring is to ensure that nuclear materials used in a civilian power plants don’t end up going into a weapons program. The U.S. is focusing on whether Saudi Arabia will adopt a so-called gold-standard agreement that would make authorities in Washington comfortable with signing off on deeper involvement by U.S. companies.

While the kingdom’s deal with Argentina allowed some work on the research reactor to progress, it can’t fill the monitoring gaps that need to be filled before the Riyadh facility is fueled, Squassoni, the Georgetown academic, said in an interview

The ability of IAEA inspectors to gain access to facilities in Saudi Arabia is currently restricted because its program is developing “based on an old text” of safeguard rules, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said last month. His agency is encouraging the kingdom to rescind those old rules and adopt a so-called additional protocol — the most stringent inspection guidelines available. Amano is scheduled to hold meetings in Washington this week, Bloomberg reported.

SourceBloomberg

Latest News

Societies are in turmoil, economies are in a nose-dive-UN Chief

The current coronavirus outbreak is the biggest challenge for the world since World War Two, UN Secretary General...

Coronavirus tally in Balochistan hits 154, as 2 more cases confirmed

Two more cases of the coronavirus were reported in Balochistan on Tuesday taking the total number of those affected to 154.

Balochistan: At least 24,00 pharmacies close in protest

According to details, more than 2,400 medical stores across Balochistan including Quetta (the capital city) shut down their businesses on Monday due...

Pakistan to send more troops to Balochistan under cover of Corona virus – BNM

Dr. Murad Baloch, Secretary General of the Baloch National Movement has said that “Pakistan is preparing to send more troops to Balochistan under the...

Former Turkish footballer Rustu Recber in hospital with coronavirus

Former Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber has been taken to hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus and is currently in a “critical period”, his...