The New York Times revealed that US intelligence agencies are examining and scrutinizing Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build its capacity to produce nuclear fuel in partnership with China, which could put it on the path to developing nuclear weapons.
The American newspaper said in a report that the CIA published in recent weeks a classified analysis on the efforts made by Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with China, to build an industrial capacity for the production of nuclear fuel, as the analysis raised concerns about the possibility of secret Saudi-Chinese efforts to process uranium ore into a form that can be enriched. Later, to weapons fuel, according to US officials.
As part of the study, officials identified a newly completed structure near a solar panel production area near Riyadh, which a number of government analysts and outside experts believe may be one of a number of undeclared nuclear sites.
The newspaper quoted American officials feeling reassured, as they said that the Saudi nuclear efforts are still in their early stages, and that intelligence analysts have not yet reached firm conclusions about some of the sites under scrutiny, and they said that even if Saudi Arabia decided to pursue a military nuclear program, years would pass. Before it could produce one nuclear warhead.
Last week, the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, included a clause in the Intelligence Budget Authorization Bill requiring the administration to report on Saudi efforts since 2015 to develop a nuclear program, a clear indication that the committee suspects undeclared nuclear activity. about him.
Yellow Uranium Cake
The American Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Western officials were afraid of a second facility in Saudi Arabia, in the northwestern desert of the kingdom, noting that it was part of a program with the Chinese to extract a “yellow uranium cake” from uranium ore.
The newspaper quoted a Western official as saying that the facility is located in the remote town of Al-Ula, northwest of Saudi Arabia, while other Western officials confirmed that it was built with the help of two Chinese companies, noting that the Saudi move has raised US officials’ fears that Riyadh will keep the option of developing nuclear weapons in place, according to Al Jazeera Net. .
The newspaper pointed out that lawmakers from the Democratic and Republican parties expressed their concern about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s pledge in 2018 to follow Iran’s example, in the event that Tehran develops a nuclear bomb.
The newspaper said that a US State Department spokesman refused to talk about whether Washington had raised the issue with Riyadh, but said that Washington had warned its partners about the danger of dealing with the Chinese civilian nuclear establishment.