Markey to Obama: Transfer of Nuclear Weapons, Technology to Saudi Arabia Could Lead to Middle Eastern Nuclear Arms Race

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 2022242742

Lawmaker calls on administration to halt plans for U.S. nuclear technology transfer


Washington (November 21, 2013) - Senator Edward J. Markey (DMass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's International Development Subcommittee, today sent a letter to President Obama expressing strong concerns that Saudi Arabia is accelerating its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, including readying for a transfer of nuclear weapons from Pakistan. In his letter to the President, Senator Markey asks for a halt to plans for any transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, as well as modification to terms of any nuclear cooperation agreement to include assurance that the country in question will not engage in activities that would allow it to develop nuclear weapons on its own. As early as the 1980s, Saudi Arabia has made overtures toward acquiring nuclear weapons. The State Department has reported that the U.S. is currently pursuing a nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. 


"In addition to your ongoing diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program, it is clear that efforts must also be expended to ensure that other nations in the Persian Gulf do not themselves develop a nuclear weapons capability either through directly obtaining them or by using the cover of a civilian nuclear program to develop them indigenously," writes Senator Markey in the letter to President Obama. 


A copy of the letter can be found HERE .  


Since the 1990s, Senator Markey has been a Congressional leader in the fight to tighten controls on the global trafficking in nuclear technology, including successful efforts to tighten controls on exports of nuclear technology to China, cut funding for the socalled "triple play" reactor that would have raised proliferation concerns, and enactment of stricter proliferation controls on North Korea. Markey led Congressional opposition to the U.S.India nuclear cooperation agreement, successfully enacting new restrictions on exports of nuclear and dualuse technologies to Iran, North Korea, and other countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, and pressing for stronger nuclear nonproliferation conditions on all future nuclear trade cooperation agreements.