Senator Markey Questions Saudi Arabia’s Intentions Toward Nuclear Power: More About Megatons Than Megawatts
In television interview, Crown Prince admits quest for electricity is more about geopolitical leverage with Iran than electricity for Saudi Arabia
Washington (March 15, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement today after it was reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS News in an interview that it would develop a nuclear weapon if its Middle Eastern neighbor Iran does. This is of particular concern because it is reported that the Trump administration is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia through a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement – or 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 forgoing any uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing on its territory.
“Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has confirmed what many have long suspected—nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia is about more than just electrical power, it’s about geopolitical power,” said Senator Markey. “The United States must not compromise on nonproliferation standards in any 123 agreement it concludes with Saudi Arabia. It is also more crucial than ever that the United States supports the Iran deal, which is one of our most important tools in containing a nuclear arms race that could otherwise explode in the Middle East.”
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. Media reported that last month Secretary of Energy Rick Perry traveled with an interagency team to London to discuss a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia. In his letter, Senator Markey reminded President Trump that he has an obligation through the Atomic Energy Act to keep the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fully informed of any negotiations related to nuclear agreements.