The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Saudi Arabia is exploring a Chinese proposal to build it a nuclear power station, a decision that may thwart US plans in the kingdom.
According to the newspaper, which cited Saudi sources acquainted with the situation, China National Nuclear Corp, a state-owned business also known as CNNC, has submitted a bid to construct a nuclear power station in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, close to the border with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
A request for comment from Reuters did not receive a response right away from CNNC.
Requests for comments regarding the report were not met with any response from the foreign ministries of China or Saudi Arabia.
As part of a potential normalisation agreement with Israel, Saudi Arabia has already asked the US for assistance in developing a civilian nuclear programme on its territory.
US officials have previously stated that they would only share nuclear power technology if the pact forbade the reprocessing of plutonium produced in reactors or the enrichment of uranium, both of which are ways to create nuclear weapons.
According to the publication, Saudi officials acknowledged that discussing the matter with China was a means of pressuring the Biden administration to relax its non-proliferation standards.
According to the newspaper, Saudi officials stated that they would like to work with US operating experience and the South Korean state utility Korea Electric Power to develop the reactors for the facility. However, they refused to accept the proliferation restrictions that Washington often demands.
The WSJ reported that the Saudi officials claimed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was ready to proceed with the Chinese enterprise quickly if talks with the US broke down.