It’s not reasonable that oil rich states do no need nuclear energy: Richard Nephew 

April 19, 2017

TEHRAN – Richard Nephew, a fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, says it is unreasonable argument that oil rich countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia should not use nuclear energy as a clean source of energy. 

“I do not believe it is a reasonable argument to use against either Iran's or Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy interest,” Nephew tells the Tehran Times.

Prior to the conclusion of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal some Western countries and even some analysts argued that Iran does not need nuclear energy because the country is gifted with abundant oil and gas resources.

However, Nephew, who was the lead sanctions expert on Iran during the Obama administration, says, “The argument that Iran does not need nuclear energy because of its oil and gas resources has not been one in primary use for years, in part because of global interest in avoiding climate change.”  

Nephew also disputes the report by the Institute for Science and International Security which has announced the Saudi government has accelerated research into nuclear programs to counter Iran. 

“I believe the report by the Institute for Science and International Security offers a different conclusion… The report indicates that Saudi Arabia increased its interest in nuclear programs parallel to Iran's efforts in the 2000s-2010s.

The Washington DC-based institute also wrote since nuclear work was scaled back in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it has increased in the Saudi kingdom.   

“The report does not suggest that this interest has expanded with the JCPOA.  This is my own conclusion: the Saudis sought to expand their nuclear program in the early part of this century in part to match some of Iran's capabilities and technical capacity,” Nephew maintains.  

He also says, “They (Saudis) have not expanded their interest since the JCPOA, but rather kept it as it was.”

The senior scholar also says that the International Atomic Energy Agency is fully aware of the kingdom’s nuclear activities. “The IAEA is well aware of Saudi Arabia's nuclear program since it has an active inspector presence in the country, consistent with Saudi Arabia's international obligations.  There is nothing in this report to suggest that the Saudis have acted improperly.”

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