Russia and Saudi Arabia sign nuclear deal

Russia and Saudi Arabia sign nuclear deal
Despite rivalries, Moscow and Riyadh have penned a number of deals including a nuclear cooperation agreement signalling a potential shift in relations.
2 min read
19 June, 2015
Historical rivals share a handshake during the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (Getty)
Saudi Arabia has signed six agreements with Russia including a deal to cooperate on nuclear energy development, a Saudi government body in charge of such projects said.

The government body, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, announced the cooperation deal on its website on Thursday.

Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV, citing unnamed sources, said the kingdom planned to build 16 nuclear reactors in which Russia would play a significant role in operating them.

The meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi Defence Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Russia Abdulrahman Al-Rassi in the Konstantin Palace during the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum follow a series of secret communications between Putin and Saudi's King Salman. 

Saudi Arabia and Russia are pitted against each other in a number of regional pressure points, most notably in Syria, and have a history of troubled relations.

However, prior to the meeting the Saudi ambassador to Russia Abdulrahman Al-Rassi said Moscow has an “important” role in implementing a Security Council resolution on Yemen.

He said Russia’s role was also “important” when it comes to regional countries such as Iran, stressing that Russia was a an important power in the Security Council to “maintain stability and security in the world.”

In recent months Russia has also signed multi billion nuclear cooperation deals with traditional U.S. allies Jordan and Egypt. 

The Saudi atomic and renewable energy body has already signed nuclear cooperation deals with countries able to build reactors, including the United States, France, Russia, South Korea, China and Argentina.

In 2012, Saudi Arabia said it aimed to build 17 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power by 2032 as well as around 41 GW of solar capacity. The oil exporter currently has no nuclear power plants.

Nuclear and solar power stations would reduce the diversion of Saudi Arabia's oil output for use in domestic power generation, leaving more available for export.