Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, launched seven strategic projects in renewable energy, atomic energy, water desalination, genetic medicine and the aircraft industry during his visit to King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology on Monday.
The two most significant projects include a nuclear research reactor and a centre for the development of aircraft structures.
In March, MBS announced his country’s readiness to develop nuclear weapons in the event that Iran heads in that direction.
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he told US broadcaster, CBS, in an interview.
Incidentally, the US, which withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran signed in 2015, reimposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran starting Monday.
Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the Saudi government had invited proposals for the construction of two nuclear power reactors to boost the country’s energy mix.
The kingdom is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest projects globally.
According to Reuters news agency, Saudi Arabia is aiming to reduce the amount of crude it burns at home to generate electricity to allow it to sell more of it overseas.
If the kingdom proceeds with the plan, it would become the second Gulf Arab state to launch a nuclear power project after the United Arab Emirates, which is building four South Korea-designed reactors.