Latest reports have Energy Secretary Perry traveling to London to hold talks with Saudi officials


Washington (February 27, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, called on the Departments of State and Energy to explain reports that the Trump administration is pursuing a deal to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia. Media is reporting the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry is traveling with an interagency team to London to discuss a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, or 123 agreement, with Saudi Arabia, who has previously refused to commit to forgoing any uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing on its territory – the so-called “gold standard” for 123 agreements. A commitment to the gold standard is one way the United States ensures that nations with which we engage in civil nuclear cooperation are living up to the highest nuclear nonproliferation standards.


“If Secretary Perry is traveling overseas to negotiate a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, then the Trump administration is failing in its obligation to inform Congress of any effort related to a new an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation,” said Senator Markey. “When he returns, I expect Secretary Perry to immediately brief me and my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee on what transpired during his trip, and the Trump administration must explain more fully why it is considering compromising on longstanding U.S. nonproliferation policy in a potential 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia.” 


In his letters to Secretaries Perry and Tillerson, Senator Markey points to the Atomic Energy Act requirement that the U.S. President keeps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fully informed of any negotiations related to nuclear agreements. He also expresses concerns with Saudi Arabia’s longstanding unwillingness to commit to the gold standard, raising concerns that the Kingdom’s commitment to use nuclear energy isn’t solely for peaceful pruposes. 


“It is my sincerest hope that the answers you provide will begin to provide some clarity on the administration’s nuclear policy towards Saudi Arabia and will pave the way for Congress to be more actively involved in these important deliberations,” writes Senator Markey.


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


More specifically, the Senator Markey asks for response to questions that include:

  • Has Saudi Arabia asked the administration to consider concluding a 123 agreement that does not include the gold standard or did the Trump administration independently decide to consider this prospect?
  • Has the United States changed it longstanding policy of opposing the transfer or spread of sensitive nuclear technologies such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing? 
  • Has the administration agreed to a proposal it will offer to Saudi Arabia and, if so, what is the proposal?
  • Have any countries in the Middle East or elsewhere expressed concern to the State Department about the United States potentially engaging in nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia?
  • What assurances, if any, has the United States received from Saudi Arabia that its nuclear program will be used only for electricity generation, and will not be used either to attempt to exert is influence over other countries in the Middle East or as a counter to its regional rival Iran?