The U.S. Should Send Nuclear Energy to Saudi Arabia

Griffen Smith | United States

The Trump administration released a statement in mid-February expressing interest in sending nuclear energy plants across the world to the Arabian Peninsula nation, Saudi Arabia. The house immediately released a 24-page document calling the pending deal a potential nuclear arms race. Many in Washington are labeling this an indirect way of giving Saudi Arabia Nuclear weapons. Some also argue we ought to cut ties to Saudi Arabia altogether. However, there are some benefits to the world from giving Saudi Arabia technology for nuclear energy.

Saudi Arabia Will Not Be Dependant on Oil

Petroleum has certainly been one of the most sought after resources in the modern world.  In fact, petroleum products have caused almost 50% of all warfare since 1973;  such as the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars, 1948 Israeli conflict, and many more. In respect to Oil, Saudi Arabia is considered a powerhouse of production. The kingdom has the 2nd largest oil reserves in the World. Their consumption and exports of petroleum equal to 40% of their GDP. In 2017, they exported 151 billion dollars worth of petroleum, producing roughly 10 million barrels a day.

While the increase in exports has made the Saudi’s GDP move from 27th to 19th in the world, there are some concerning downsides that must be addressed. The Institute for Global international political studies reported how Saudi Arabia needs oil to function. The study found that Saudi Arabia is structurally dependant on oil for a majority of its economy, and further uses its reserves to power the large Arabian Penninsula. Negative side effects of a petroleum economy have been seen in increased unemployment and a decrease in other industries. Not to mention an insecure GDP due to the fluctuations in petroleum prices. The end result is a Saudi Arabia that rides and dies with the resource of oil. This is extremely dangerous for the stability of the Middle East.

The Oil Market is Not Infinite

The country also needs to recognize that the oil market is not indefinite. Though there is no perfect estimate, even generous guesses predict the Saudi’s have fewer than 100 years left in their petroleum reserves. In addition, the nation is only increasing production due to the lowering of oil prices globally. Therefore, instead of worrying about oil prices and output, Saudi Arabia needs to prioritize sustainability through nuclear energy. Nuclear power is a critical asset to deferring oil use.

First, nuclear energy will be able to eliminate electricity by burning petroleum. Further, nuclear energy can make desalinization, the process of making salt water drinkable, a sustainable process for the future. The desalinization process currently produces 90% of Saudi Arabia’s drinking water, which currently costs them 15% of their produced petroleum. Nuclear energy will save Saudi Arabia from using more of its reserves. It will also open a door to which they can create a sustainable economy not dependent on oil.

The US Retains Influence in the Arabian Penninsula

Nuclear energy production is certainly not exclusive to the United States. The Guardian reported the total planned nuclear reactors and found that the US only made up 11 of the 133 future power plants in the world. While America has been somewhat hesitant about building nuclear power, other countries have stepped up to the plate. For instance, even small nations such as Canada are increasing power plants, and also researching into new technology that makes uranium use even more efficient.

When Saudi Arabia seeks nuclear energy, the United States has to battle with other countries to retain their influence. This year the Saudi’s expressed interest in building 16 nuclear power plants, and the US, Russia, China, and France are pursuing a deal. China is an immediate frontrunner, due to their commitment to increasing their power plants and implementing state of the art technology. Nonetheless, if the United States can act now they will gain influence on a very important Middle Eastern nation. Policy-wise, sending nuclear energy to a country that needs it is exactly what Foreign policy analysts recommend to improve relations with the world.

A nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia brings around many concerns of proliferation. However, the US has extensive policies for regulating nuclear power, and any concerns could easily shut down a nuclear deal with SA.

The Overall Benefits

Nonetheless, a Saudi-US nuclear energy program would be extremely beneficial between both countries. For the Saudi’s, they get an energy source that will help them get off of oil Dependency. Meanwhile, the US would be able to reinvigorate its nuclear energy programs, make a profit for its businesses, and gain better ties with the global community.

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