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Saudi Arabia elected to preside over IAEA committee

Arab News logo Arab News 25/09/2020 Hibshi Alshammari
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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been elected instead of Iran to head the main committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference during its 64th session held currently in Vienna.

Seventy out of 112 countries voted for Saudi Arabia, while 37 abstained.

The differences with Iran over its controversial nuclear program have deprived it of heading the committee, which is responsible for studying the decisions put before the week-long IAEA General Conference that started on Monday.

Iran is also competing with the UAE to get a seat on the Council of IAEA Governors, which is in charge of designing the IAEA general policy for South Asia and the Middle East regions.

In his video address to the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York King Salman said the Kingdom’s hands were extended to Iran in peace with a positive and open attitude over the past decades, but to no avail.

Fadhel Albuainain, an economic expert, told Arab News: “It’s important to exclude Iran from presiding over the committee or any other committee because of its violations of the atomic energy sector and hostility towards the international community in general. I believe the Kingdom has succeeded in snatching this role and excluding Iran from it.”

He said that chairing the IAEA committee is important in terms of the projects submitted to the IAEA General Conference. The Kingdom can play a pivotal role in this regard, especially in terms of coordination with members to achieve the best interests of the agency. On the other hand, the Kingdom is preparing to use civilian nuclear energy, so that chairing the committee will enhance its position in the agency.

He said the Kingdom plays a vital role in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and is about to establish nuclear power reactors which will be used to diversify energy sources instead of relying on oil.

According to Albuainain, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy is working on implementing the nation’s plans to produce atomic energy, which will help to meet the requirements of national development and cement the Kingdom’s position in the energy sector.

The Kingdom, he added, wants to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and use nuclear energy to diversify the country’s energy mix. This is the declared goal that the Kingdom is working to achieve through partnerships with the Atomic Energy Agency.

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