IAEA asks Saudis for safeguards on first nuclear reactor
The head UN nuclear inspector said that his agency is asking Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material that could arrive by the end of the year for its first atomic reactor, Trend reported citing AFP.
Satellite imagery recently emerged of the Argentine-built project on the outskirts of Riyadh, which comes amid controversy in Washington over President Donald Trump's approval of nuclear projects with the oil-rich kingdom.
But Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said there was nothing secret about the reactor and that Saudi Arabia informed the Vienna-based UN body about its plans in 2014.
He said the IAEA has encouraged Saudi Arabia to put into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement, under which the agency ensures that nuclear material is not being diverted to weapons use.
Saudi Arabia in 2005 signed with the IAEA a so-called small quantities protocol, which exempts countries from inspections if they have no or minimal nuclear programs.
"We have proposed to Saudi Arabia to rescind and replace it by the full-fledged comprehensive safeguards agreement," Amano told reporters in Washington.
"They didn't say no, they didn't say yes, and they are now giving thoughts. We are waiting," he said.
"For now, they don't have the material, so there is no violation," he said.
Amano said that Saudi Arabia may bring in nuclear material "by the end of the year," although he cautioned that nuclear projects frequently get delayed.