• Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

US Senate proposal would block Saudi path to atomic weapon in nuclear deal

  • Published at 04:06 pm February 13th, 2019
Saudi Arabia- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman-King Salman bin Abdulaziz
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz are seen during the launching of National Industrial Development and Logistics Program in Ritz-Carlton hotel, Saudi Arabia January 28, 2019 Reuters

US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia would prevent enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium made in reactors

US senators from both parties introduced a resolution on Tuesday requiring that any deal to share US nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia block the kingdom from making a nuclear weapon.

Under the measure, any US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, or 123 agreement, with Saudi Arabia would prevent enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium made in reactors - two routes to making nuclear weapons.

It is unclear whether a majority of the 100-member Senate would support the resolution of Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ed Markey and Republican Rand Paul. The resolution is also non-binding on the US government.

But with significant support, it would signal concern in Congress over Saudi-led bombing campaigns in Yemen and over the killing of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been holding quiet talks with officials from Saudi Arabia on sharing US nuclear technology. US President Donald Trump hosted nuclear power executives on Tuesday for talks on keeping the industry competitive on exports with France, China, and Russia.

The Trump administration is trying to advance nuclear energy technology domestically and abroad as the industry suffers from plentiful supplies of cheap natural gas and high safety costs at home. A resolution could pressure the administration to push for a deal with tougher standards.

"If Saudi Arabia is going to get its hands on nuclear technology, it’s absolutely critical that we hold it to the gold standard for non-proliferation," Merkley said in a release. "The last thing America should do is inadvertently help develop nuclear weapons for a bad actor on the world stage.”

Riyadh has said it wants to be self-sufficient in producing nuclear fuel and that it is not interested in diverting nuclear technology to military use. But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS last year the kingdom will develop nuclear weapons if arch-rival Iran does.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign an agreement with Washington that would deprive it of enriching uranium. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year Saudi Arabia put the United States on a shortlist with South Korea's state-run utility KEPCO, along with France, China and Russia to bid for a nuclear power project. The winner will likely be selected in 2019.

US reactor builder Westinghouse, owned by Brookfield Asset Management Inc, would likely sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in any deal.

Chris Crane, president and chief operating officer of Exelon Corp, the largest US nuclear power operator, told reporters Trump was supportive in Tuesday's meeting with the executives but wanted them to clarify their expectations.

Crane was joined by Daniel Poneman, head of uranium enrichment company Centrus Energy Corp and deputy energy secretary under former President Barack Obama, and John Hopkins, head of NuScale Power, a company developing small modular reactors.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail