An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) team of experts concluded a 12-day mission to Saudi Arabia on 24 July, hosted by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KaCare).  

In 2017, the Saudi government launched a project to request proposals from vendors for the construction of two reactors after announcing its intention to add nuclear power to the energy mix. The INIR mission reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 2 criteria of the IAEA’s Milestones Approach. The end of Phase 2 marks the readiness of a country to invite bids or negotiate a contract for its first nuclear power plant.

The INIR team comprised experts from Brazil, Spain, the UK and IAEA staff. It reviewed the status of 19 infrastructure issues using the IAEA Nuclear Energy Series Evaluation of the Status of National Infrastructure Development. Before the mission, Saudi Arabia submitted a Self-Evaluation Report covering all infrastructure issues as well as supporting documents to the IAEA. Jose Bastos, Technical Lead of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section, said: “Saudi Arabia is well placed to finalise its plans for the construction of its first nuclear power plant.”

The team said that Saudi Arabia had made "significant progress" in the development of its nuclear power infrastructure,  establishing a legislative framework and carrying out comprehensive studies to support the next steps of the programme. Saudi Arabia has developed partnerships with countries experienced in the use of nuclear power and is extensively using their technical support. The team made recommendations and suggestions where further action would benefit Saudi Arabia, including coordination and development of outstanding nuclear-related policies and strategies; finalisation of the readiness of key organisations; and completion of studies to prepare for future stages of the nuclear power programme. Good practices were noted that would benefit other countries considering the introduction of nuclear power in the areas of national position, management, regulatory framework, siting and human resource development.

KaCare President Dr Khalid Al SultansaidL “The vision of Saudi Arabia 2030 considers nuclear energy as an important source to support stability and sustainable growth.” He added: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested the INIR mission to support this goal. It was a valuable tool to pinpoint areas of improvement and ensure that the required infrastructures are in place before signing the contract for building the first nuclear power plant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”