Press TV – The US is reportedly set to resume talks with Saudi Arabia to secure a lucrative deal for the construction of nuclear reactors in the kingdom, under which Washington may pave the way for Riyadh to develop nuclear weapons by allowing it to enrich uranium.
The talks were frozen under the former US administration after the Saudis refused to accept Washington’s non-proliferation “gold standard” for civil nuclear cooperation deals.
The standard prohibits the recipient of the technology from enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium, which could be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
Under President Donald Trump, however, the two sides have resumed discussing nuclear cooperation, despite Riyadh’s continued insistence on bypassing that standard.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Bin Abdulaziz al-Falih in London on Friday in “a crucial step” in the Trump-era nuclear discussions, Bloombergreported on Tuesday.
The report said Washington is considering whether to give into Riyadh’s demand in return for the regime to pick US contractors for building reactors in Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom seeks to set up 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion.
Analysts say the US may be ready to give up the “gold standard” in an attempt to prevent the profitable agreement from going to other potential contractors, including Russia and China.
However, some US congressmen have protested the absence of transparency in the issue.
“Congress remains in the dark about what exactly is being considered, why we may be re-evaluating our non-proliferation objectives and standards, and how and when this information is being conveyed to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world,” Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Perry and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
On Sunday, The New York Times warned in an opinion piece about the prospect of the emergence of a nuclear Saudi Arabia.
“There are growing signs that the Saudis want the option of building nuclear weapons to hedge against their archrival, Iran,” the paper added.
In 2015, Iran and the world countries, including the US, reached a landmark nuclear deal, which put limits on Iran’s domestic nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against the country.
The agreement has been invariably hailed as a pillar of regional and international stability.
While apparently trying to turn a blind eye to what Riyadh could do with its unbridled nuclear program, Washington under Trump has been viciously pushing to kill the accord or withdraw from it, citing it as “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip last year, signing a deal with the kingdom to provide it with $110 billion worth of weapons. Washington has been a major supporter of the Riyadh regime in its deadly war against Yemen.