It has not been a secret for a long time that Saudi Arabia has deposits of uranium that could be commercially viable to form the basis for mining operations. However, the deposits are not listed in directories of uranium deposits
Uranium mining is the process of extraction of uranium ore from the ground. The worldwide production of uranium in 2019 amounted to 53,656 tonnes. Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia were the top three uranium producers, respectively, and together account for 68% of world production.
Background. Saudi Arabia officially is a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and it has also an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Although Saudi Arabia does not possess weapons of mass destruction, Saudi officials have hinted at the desirability of possessing nuclear weapons to counter the nuclear ambitions of regional rival Iran. Since its 2015 intervention in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has been the target of regular missile attacks by Houthi militias.
The concentration of uranium varies from country to country and deposit to deposit. For scoping purposes, taking an average U content of 60-120 ppm, the Middle East phosphate resources would contain 1.2 million tons of uranium.
The largest uranium ore deposits are found in Asia, Canada, Australia and Africa. There are some uranium ore deposits in the UK but they are too small to be economic and so no commercial mining happens in this country.
The Royal Saudi Armed Forces are one of the best-funded in the world, having the world's sixth largest defense budget. International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates in 2021 listed a total of 127,000 personnel (75,000 RSLF; 13,500 Navy; 20,000 Air Force; 16,000 Air Defense; and Strategic Missile Forces 2,500).
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest importer of defense equipment but has negligible arms production or exports. The establishment of a strong Saudi Arms industry could alter the position of the country within the world economy.
Currently, Turkey has no operating commercial nuclear reactors. However, four VVER-1200 reactors at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, are currently under construction and expected to come online in 2023.
McArthur River mine located about 620km north of Saskatoon, Canada, is currently the world's largest uranium producing mine. It produced 7,520 tonnes of uranium in 2012, accounting for 13% of the world's total uranium production.
The Saudi army has 600 heavy tanks, 780 light armored vehicles and 1,423 armored troop carriers. Its air force is equipped with 313 fighter jets, including F-15s, Tornados and Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as helicopters.
Riyadh struck a deal in 2019 with Russian defense giant Rostec to domestically produce the AK-103, an AK-74M derivative chambered in 7.62×39mm, whilst also agreeing to import large numbers of the rifle.
Business Insider's ranking of the region's strongest armies shows money isn't everything when it comes to military might. Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East, followed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, a new ranking released by Business Insider revealed on Monday.
The World Nuclear Association states that Russia has known uranium deposits of 500,000 tonnes and planned to mine 11,000 to 12,000 tonnes per year from deposits in the South Urals, Western Siberia, and Siberia east of Lake Baikal, by 2010.