Chinese researchers said to scout out three major deposits that could set stage for domestic fuel production
Saudi deposits of uranium ore could be enough for Riyadh to set up domestic production of nuclear fuel, The Guardian reported Thursday.
The newspaper says it acquired confidential reports compiled for Riyadh by Chinese geologists with Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology (BRIUG) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).
It cited the documents as zooming in on three key deposits located in the country's central and northwestern parts. Together, they could hold more than 90,000 tons of uranium, the researchers estimated.
This volume is enough to allow Riyadh to manufacture nuclear fuel domestically, both for its own reactors and exports.
However, the deposits have been classified as inferred, meaning that the estimation is done with a low confidence level, and more research is required to deliver more precise figures.
The newspaper said it could not confirm the reports independently and cited several experts as saying that the volume of the reserves could also bolster a possible Saudi nuclear weapons program, should the kingdom ever opt to develop one.
The prospect is not entirely unimaginable, as in 2018, Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman warned that Riyadh would seek to develop a nuclear strike capability if Iran's nuclear ambitions result in a nuclear arsenal.
Saudi Arabia is one of the Gulf States that earlier came out in support of the US push for renewing a conventional arms embargo on Iran.