On Wednesday, two Democratic US Senators has urged President Donald Trump’s administration Officials to end talks with Saudi Arabia overbuilding nuclear reactors after weekend attacks that destroyed the Kingdom’s oil output and heightened instability in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, the US Energy Secretary Rick Perry told sources at a nuclear power conference in Vienna that America would only offer Saudi Arabia with nuclear power technology if it signed a deal with the United Nations watchdog permitting for forwarding snap inspections.
But Saudi Arabia has opposed agreeing to strict non-proliferation restrictions, popular as the gold standard, which would block it from enriching uranium and reproduce spent fuel, potential pathways to make a nuclear bomb.
Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Ed Markey are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Perry, urges Trump’s Administration to end the recent discussion with the Kingdom about the development of nuclear power.
They have also been concerned about Saudi’s reluctance to agree with the gold standard, after Crown Prince Mohammed-bin Salman has said that his nation doesn’t want nuclear weapons but will track them if its rival develops one.
The letter from Merkley and Markey reads, “Sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, especially without adequate safeguards, will give Riyadh the tools it needs to turn the Crown Prince’s nuclear weapons vision into reality.”
However, the State Department and Energy Department did not immediately comment on the issue,
In September 4, a letter to Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, who was reinstated by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Sunday, said Perry that a deal on nuclear power “must also contain a commitment by the kingdom to forgo any enrichment and reprocessing for the term of the agreement.”
But the written letter didn’t clarify the length of the “term” the Kingdom would have to stop those practices or whether it covered American origin uranium from other nations.
A non-proliferation expert claims that Trump’s Administration wants to convey the concept it supports the gold standard, but the ambiguity means it remains unknown if it does.
The Executive Director of the Washington-based Non-proliferation Policy Education Center, Henry Sokolski was quoted saying: “Why would you even consider helping the kingdom build nuclear reactors after the attack on an energy facility?” adding that “What makes you think building another energy facility that’s radioactive is smart?”
Perry continued that if America doesn’t work with Saudi, other suppliers such as Russia and China could also help the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons.
However, some lawmakers claim that if Russia or China helps the Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons with adequate non-proliferation safeguards, the US has the tools to counter them.
Riyadh also plans to issue a multi-billion-dollar tender in 2020 to produce its first two nuclear power reactors, with Russian, the United States, Chinese, South Korean, and French firms involved in preliminary talks.
In February, a Republican Senator Marco Rubio, and Markey has joined lawmakers in the House of Representative while introducing legislation, which might increase congressional oversight over any civil nuclear cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia.