Mohammed Bin Salman launches the first project of a Saudi nuclear plant

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia launched the country's first nuclear power plant project as the kingdom seeks to diversify its traditional dependence on oil and compete with rival Iran.

Even though the administration of President Donald Trump was imposing economic sanctions on Iran for its nuclear research program, Salman was heralding the start of a new era for Saudi Arabia in the City of Science and Technology of King Abdulaziz in the capital city of Riyadh.

The crown prince launched seven new strategic projects related to renewable energy, nuclear power, water desalination, genetic medicine and the aviation industry, Reuters reported. The initiatives are part of the country's commitment to get out of its economy traditionally focused on oil.

The nuclear plant is the first of the 16 planned by the Saudis in the next two decades, at a cost of $ 80 billion. The kingdom's plans have been precipitated by its ongoing regional struggle for the influence of Iran, which already has a nuclear power program.

Saudi Arabia's offer to establish an atomic energy industry will be assisted with investment and advice from EE. US, although the Trump government has said it will maintain strict control over any effort to put the investigation together, according to Reuters.

A few details about the plant have been released, Radio Free Europe said, but it is likely to be used for research, development and education purposes rather than to produce electricity. The project will be oriented towards civil and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

However, Saudi Arabia's nuclear pivot has raised concerns that a nuclear arms race could develop in the Middle East. In March, Salman publicly warned that Riyadh would work to develop atomic weapons if Iran does the same, according to CNBC.

Although Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear agreement of the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action with Iran, the leaders in Tehran are still hopeful that the agreement can survive his presidency.

The other signatories of the agreement - China, Russia, the European Union, France, Germany and the United Kingdom - still support the agreement, which creates hopes that the restrictions imposed on Iran's nuclear research will be maintained.

But the White House believes its punitive sanctions can bring Tehran to the negotiating table to agree on a more beneficial agreement for the United States. Trump wants a new agreement to include restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program and its influence on regional conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq: concessions that Tehran has rejected.

If this fails, reports suggest that Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton believe that sanctions combined with existing anti-government sentiment could even provoke regime change, according to the Washington Post.

Saudi Arabia has participated in nuclear research in other countries in the past. It has been suggested that the country's role in helping Pakistan join the nuclear club was agreed on the basis that the Saudis could buy bombs manufactured in Islamabad if the regional situation deteriorates, according to the BBC. Both countries have denied these suggestions.

According to the Middle East Monitor, other security sources and reporters have claimed, without concrete evidence, that Israel is selling nuclear information to the Saudis to ensure that Iran does not become the only other regional power with the bomb.

The ruling Saudi royal family faces widespread criticism for the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The alleged participation of the crown prince and the upper echelons of the Saudi government has led some US lawmakers to recommend that the United States should move away from the close relationship that has developed between Washington and Riyadh.