Saudi Arabia possesses a sizable stockpile of mineable uranium ore; has announced an intention to build several nuclear reactors across the country; and possesses several types of ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons. While these factors do not necessarily indicate the country’s interest in developing nuclear weapons at this time, Saudi Arabia’s Small Quantities Protocol exempts the country from IAEA monitoring and inspections obligations, which increases ambiguity around the country’s nuclear intentions and capabilities.
Marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September 2022, Saudi Arabia said that it ‘gives special attention to acceding to all the treaties and agreements that would help to eliminate all forms of nuclear weapons, achieve peace and stability, and reduce the risks of wars where internationally forbidden weapons are used’.1
Saudi Arabia voted in favour of adopting the TPNW at the UN Diplomatic Conference in 2017. After having voted in favour of the previous annual UN General Assembly resolutions on the Treaty, Saudi Arabia abstained on the vote in 2021 and 2022.
- Saudi Arabia should comply with its existing obligation under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.
- Saudi Arabia should urgently adhere to the TPNW. Until it is in a position to do so, it should welcome the TPNW as a valuable component in the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, work with the Treaty's states parties on practical steps towards disarmament, and attend the meetings of states parties as an observer.
- Saudi Arabia should conclude and bring into force an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, and rescind its Small Quantities Protocol. @Saudi Arabia should also adhere to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).