Ex-diplomat says Saudi Arabia tried to buy nuclear reactors

August 07, 1994|By New York Times News Service

UNITED NATIONS -- A former Saudi diplomat seeking political asylum in the United States asserts that Saudi Arabia tried to buy nuclear research reactors from China and from a U.S. company in 1989 as part of a secret effort to acquire nuclear weapons.

In an interview Friday, Mohammed A. Khilewi, formerly the second-ranking official at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations, produced some letters to support his allegations.

One letter, dated Jan. 10, 1989, appeared to be from the China Nuclear Energy Industry Corp. in Beijing to Prince Abdel Rahman, a nephew of King Fahd, saying it was willing to sell research reactors known as miniature neutron source reactors to Saudi Arabia and pay the Prince a 5 percent commission.

Experts describe such reactors as small models suitable for research, with relatively simple applications.

In another letter dated May 16, 1989, to an Alexandria, Va., company, called Marine Services Limited, a senior official of the King Abdel Aziz City for Science and Technology acknowledges receipt of a "documents/specifications for a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor" and promises to give them "careful review."

Asked about Mr. Khilewi's claims, an official of the Saudi embassy in Washington, Adel Jubir, challenged the authenticity of the documents yesterday but did not comment on their substance.

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