Lawmakers have repeatedly called for Congressional oversight of any 123 negotiations between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia
Washington (November 13, 2019) – Today, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) wrote to Dan Brouillette, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Energy, to seek answers regarding his position on a potential civil nuclear cooperation or “123” agreement with Saudi Arabia ahead of his confirmation hearing this week. Brouillette, currently the Deputy Secretary of Energy, reportedly shared his views on Saudi nuclear cooperation with attendees of an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates. At the same September conference, the Saudi energy minister alarmed observers by stating that his country aims to implement every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, including the production and enrichment of uranium. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has stated publicly that Saudi Arabia would seek to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran were to “develop” a nuclear bomb.
“We appreciate that you reportedly stated that the United States ‘can’t do without’ a 123 agreement with respect to any transfer of nuclear ‘technology,’”write the Senators in the letter. “However, it is unclear whether you believe that a ‘gold standard’ commitment to forgo enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear material and a commitment to conclude an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency must be part of any such agreement. We are deeply concerned that seeking a nuclear cooperation agreement with Riyadh endangers U.S. national security by rewarding Saudi Arabia’s disregard for fundamental human rights and humanitarian standards, especially in the absence of key nonproliferation commitments.”
A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.
In the letter, the Senators ask for responses to questions that include:
In February, Senators Markey and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, and Congressman Ted Yoho (FL-03) introduced the Saudi Nuclear Nonproliferation Act that would increase Congressional oversight over any civil nuclear cooperation agreement.