November 19, 2018 / 8:10 PM / 22 days ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi energy minister says kingdom launches uranium exploration programme

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CAIRO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday the kingdom had launched a uranium exploration programme and initial indications were positive, Al-Arabiya Business reported on Twitter.

Falih added that a project to construct two nuclear plants, was proceeding at an excellent pace according to plan, according to Al-Arabiya. No further detail was given.

Saudi Arabia has said it wants to build the nuclear power stations with the help of U.S. technology.

Non-proliferation advocates are concerned that any civilian nuclear deal between Riyadh and Washington that could allow the kingdom to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium could one day be covertly altered to produce fissile material for atom bombs.

Saudi Arabia has said that if it does not get U.S. assistance to build reactors it may turn to other international partners. The kingdom is also in talks with companies from Russia, China, South Korea and other countries on nuclear power. (Reporting by Nayera Abdallah Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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