Gulf Arabs pursue nuclear plans with Riyadh talks http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL2161545820070521
Mon May 21, 2007
RIYADH (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states began working on feasibility studies for a joint nuclear program on Monday and a leading Gulf official said they were set on pursuing atomic energy for peaceful purposes only.
"The promising future of nuclear energy in electricity generation and desalination can make it a source for meeting increasing needs," Gulf Cooperation Council head Abdul-Rahman al-Attiya told the first meeting of Gulf nuclear experts.
The GCC, a major energy producing group that includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, agreed with the U.N. atomic watchdog in February to cooperate in early preparations for atomic energy.
But their program has raised concerns in the West about a regional arms race with Iran, which is in a standoff with the West over its own nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries share Western concerns that Iran's nuclear energy program will lead to it acquiring atomic bombs, a claim Tehran denies.
While not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel is widely assumed to possess nuclear weapons and is seen as more of a threat than Iran by most Arabs.
Reiterating GCC claims in December that their program would be peaceful and transparent, Attiya said it aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the Gulf region.
"A large part of Gulf Cooperation Council oil and gas products can be used for export in light of expected high prices and demand," Attiya said. "It will also help to limit the increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the Gulf region."
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