Congress flexes its muscles as Trump discusses Saudi nuclear deal with industry
US lawmakers are taking another shot at curtailing a potential civil nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia just as President Donald Trump met with the same nuclear developers who opposed their last attempt.
Sens. Jeff Merkley, R-Ore., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ed Markey, D-Mass. re-introduced a bipartisan resolution today calling on the Trump administration to refrain from any deal that would allow Riyadh to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium on its soil – potential precursors to a nuclear weapons program. Markey and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., have also introduced legislation that would force Congress to sign off on any Saudi nuclear deal.
Riyadh opposes any such restrictions, while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not ruled out developing a nuclear weapons program if Iran does. And Bloomberg reported today that Trump was set to meet with nuclear industry representatives to discuss building atomic energy plants abroad – including in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
One of the companies reportedly at the meeting, Westinghouse Electric, lobbied Congress against the Merkley resolution last year. As Al-Monitor first reported at the time, some Republicans held up the resolution after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sought to put it up for a vote on the floor.
Bloomberg also reported that today’s White House meeting was arranged by consulting firm IP3 International, which drafted a 2016 proposal for Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz to construct 16 nuclear reactors in the kingdom and 30 reactors elsewhere under a US and Saudi “security umbrella.” ProPublica first reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn worked with IP3 at the time and championed the idea during his brief tenure in the White House.
The White House did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.
- Bryant Harris