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Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan on 25 October signed an agreement to cooperate in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Following a meeting with Saudi Arabia's minister of energy, industry and mineral resource, Khalid Al-Falih, on 24 October, Kazakh energy minister Kanat Bozumbayev said, "Kazakhstan is a leader in the production of natural uranium. We have a joint venture with Russia for uranium enrichment. We produce [fuel] pellets; we are at the stage of creating fuel assemblies. We have the necessary experience, which we can share with our Saudi colleagues."

Kazakhstan has 12% of the world's uranium resources and an expanding mining sector, producing about 23,800t in 2015, and planning for further increase to 2018. Saudi Arabia is setting up a nuclear power programme and  plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources. Saudi Arabia has signed similar nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina, China, Finland, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Russia and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan and Russia on 6 October signed an agreement to cooperate on nuclear fuel cycle activities, focusing on uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication. The three-way agreement was signed between Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and Kazakhstan’s state-owned nuclear company Kazatomprom. The agreement also allows for possible joint participation in International Atomic Energy Agency projects and joint use of existing transport and logistics in the Russian Far East.

Date: Wednesday, 09 November 2016
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