US mulls India-type 123 nuclear pact with Saudi Arabia

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    US mulls India-type 123 nuclear pact with Saudi Arabia - Economic Times

    DUBAI: The Obama administration is quietly moving ahead on the groundwork for a possible India-type civilian nuclear trade agreement with its ally Saudi Arabia, according to a news report.

    According to the report, the agreement could prove to be the most controversial of a string of such US deals in recent years.

    According to State Department officials, US plans to hold 'exploratory talks' in Riyadh this week to gauge Saudi objectives behind their interest in a civilian nuclear deal.

    US also wants to explore whether the Saudi government will accept restrictions to ensure its nuclear fuel is used purely for civilian purposes, the 'Christian Science Monitor' report said, quoting congressional sources.

    US has recently concluded civilian nuclear trade deals, also-called 123 agreements, with India and is in advanced discussions with Jordan, Vietnam and South Korea.

    But Saudi Arabia's interest in such an accord has raised intense suspicions, particularly in the US Congress.

    "There aren't many countries you could come up with where people would be more energised in opposition to this kind of cooperation than this one," one House staffer who was informed on the administration's planned talks, was quoted as saying.

    "It's an unstable country in an unstable region, and - fairly or unfairly - people think 9/11 when they think of Saudi Arabia. It would be an extremely hard sell," said the staffer on condition of anonymity..

    The State Department first announced that Saudi Arabia's interest in gaining access to US nuclear technology for "medicine, industry, and power generation" in May 2008.

    US-Saudi relations have become considerably rockier since then, and some regional experts say it is important to keep that in mind when considering why the administration is proceeding with exploratory talks now.

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