According to new satellite images, Saudi Arabia is building its first nuclear reactor. The site of the reactor is in the King Abdulaziz city for science and technology on the outskirts of Riyadh.
A former director for nuclear inspections Robert Kelley at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) identified the reactor site. He said that it is a small 30-kilowatt research reactor, soon to be completed.
Kelley said, “I would guess they could have it all done, with the roof in place and the electricity turned on, within a year.”
The satellite photos revealed that a steel tubular vessel, 10-metre high will contain the nuclear fuel. It has been erected and the construction work has started.
According to Kelly the aim of the research reactor is to train the nuclear technicians. Also, the nuclear reactor would mark the crossing of a nuclear threshold. Saudi Arabia would have to implement a complete set of rules and procedures before inserting the nuclear fuel in to the reactor.
An Argentinian state-owned company Invap SE designed the reactor.
Argentina’s envoy to the IAEA Rafael Mariano Grossi said, “This reactor should be operational by the end of the year roughly. It depends on a number of factors. Invap is in charge of design. They are directing all the operations. But the local engineering is being done by the Saudis.”