US firms are pushing Washington to resume talks with Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, according to a report.
Riyadh has welcomed the lobbying by the firms attracted by Saudi plans to build nuclear reactors, Reuters reported, citing its sources.
The sources did not identify the firms, according to the report which also said US and Saudi officials in charge of nuclear energy issues refused to comment on the news.
In October, Riyadh requested information from nuclear reactor suppliers in order to open a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors, and now it wants to award the first construction contract in 2018.
Washington is already negotiating with other US-based firms to form a consortium for the bid, the report said.
According to one of the sources, Saudi officials had told Washington they do not want to forfeit the prospect of one day enriching uranium.
“They want to secure enrichment if down the line they want to do it,” noted the source who is in contact with Saudi and US officials. This comes before US Energy Secretary Rick Perry visit to Saudi Arabia to hold talks early next week.
Meanwhile, another source said that Saudi Arabia and the US had already held talks about a nuclear cooperation pact. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), the Saudi government agency drawing up the nuclear plans, has said that the kingdom is considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032.
That means the kingdom is considering building up to 17 standard nuclear reactors.
However, deep pockets and the lack of any meaningful anti-nuclear movement in the country could easily turn Saudi Arabia into one of the most lucrative markets for an industry that has been struggling for contracts following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.—Agencies.