Skip to main content

Saudi Arabia mulls Chinese bid to build nuclear plant

The news will irk Washington, which wants Riyadh to not be able to develop nuclear weapons.
WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia is considering a Chinese bid to build it a nuclear power plant, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The news will add pressure on the Biden administration to allow the kingdom to develop nuclear power.

The paper reported that state-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) has bid to build the facility in the kingdom’s eastern province near the border with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, according to Saudi officials who were not named.

Deals for nuclear reactors are long-term and lucrative, meaning they are deeply political. Riyadh has previously looked to partner with the United States to establish a civilian nuclear program as part of a possible normalization of ties with Israel. Saudi Arabia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel.

US and Israeli officials are concerned it may pave the way for Riyadh to start creating nuclear weapons. US officials have said previously that they would only share nuclear power technology if the agreement prevents Saudi Arabia from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium made in reactors, because either activity could result in the development of nuclear weapons. Israel’s energy minister has also voiced opposition to Saudi starting a civilian nuclear program.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.