Tue, 15 Oct 2019

2 US Senators Warn Trump Against Nuclear Deal With Saudis

Voice of America
19 Sep 2019, 10:05 GMT+10

Two U.S. senators are warning the Trump administration against a nuclear cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia, fearing it could set off a nuclear arms race in the volatile Middle East.

"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," Democratic senators Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Both lawmakers are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They say making such a deal with the Saudis will "fail to promote U.S. leverage or influence."

"If the Trump administration turns a blind eye to the kingdom's behavior at home and abroad while concluding an agreement that could fast-track its potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Congress will reject any such agreement," the senators wrote.

They added that Saudi Arabia's "disregard for fundamental human rights and humanitarian standards" should not be rewarded.

The State Department and Department of Energy have not publicly responded to the letter.

Saudi Arabia has balked at the strict nonproliferation conditions, including U.N. inspections, that would come with nuclear cooperation with the United States.

The inspections are meant to ensure that the Saudis are not enriching uranium and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel that could allow them to build a bomb.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said his country would seek nuclear weapons if Iran developed a bomb.

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