Press TV – bipartisan group of American lawmakers have raised concerns about Washington’s nuclear dealings with Saudi Arabia despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “deeply troubling actions” and his not-so-secret penchant for acquiring nuclear weapons.
In a letter drafted to US Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday, Senators Robert Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican committee member Marco Rubio questioned the recent approvals for American companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia.
The senators specifically pointed to Riyadh’s insistence on forgoing Washington’s so-called 123 agreement, a set of nonproliferation standards required by Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
The 123 agreement, often referred to as Washington’s “gold standard” for foreign civil nuclear cooperation, prevents the foreign entity from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium made in reactors – two routes to making nuclear weapons.
“As has been reported, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly asked during nuclear cooperation negotiations that no limitations in a 123 agreement be placed on its ability to enrich uranium and reprocess its spent nuclear fuel,” the senators write.
“Many in Congress therefore worry that Saudi Arabia’s interest in someday producing its own stocks of nuclear fuel—despite the fact the Kingdom could purchase fuel on the international market more cheaply—could lead to it to divert fuel to a covert nuclear weapons program.”
Negotiations between the US and Saudi Arabia for nuclear cooperation came to a halt under the administration of former President Barack Obama, after Riyadh refused to accept Washington’s proposed standards.