Senator Markey Calls for Immediate Answers from Energy Department, Other Agencies on Saudi Arabia Nuclear Cooperation Agreement Discussions
At hearing today, Senator Markey questioned NRC Chairwoman about staff attendance at meeting last month in London with Secretary Perry
Washington (March 21, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) and Foreign Relations Committees, today demanded that Energy Secretary Rick Perry immediately brief Congress on his trip to London with an interagency team last month to discuss a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia and provide answers to repeated requests for information on these discussions. This morning, at an EPW hearing, Senator Markey questioned Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Kristine L. Svinicki about its role in the meeting, and she confirmed that at least one NRC lawyer participated. According to media reports, the Trump administration is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia through a 123 agreement. The so-called “gold standard” for 123 agreements requires countries to agree not to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, which can be processed to make nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia has previously refused to commit to this gold standard and forgo any uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing on its territory. In a recent interview, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asserted that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
“Despite confirmation of ongoing discussions with Saudi Arabia, I am not aware of any member-level briefings for any member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the status of these discussions,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Secretary Perry. “Issues as critical as nuclear nonproliferation require engagement with Congress given their major implications for U.S. national security.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.
In February, Senator Markey called on the Trump administration to explain reports that it is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. In his letter, Senator Markey reminded President Trump that he has an obligation under the Atomic Energy Act to keep the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fully informed of any negotiations related to nuclear agreements.