July 30, 2019

Van Hollen, Graham, Moran, Merkley Introduce Legislation to Require that Ex-Im Bank Financing of any Nuclear Projects in Saudi Arabia meet Strict Conditions

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to require that Ex-Im Bank financing of any nuclear projects in Saudi Arabia meet strict conditions. The bill would ensure that any Saudi nuclear power projects are held to the nonproliferation “gold standard” for nuclear cooperation. It also strengthens congressional oversight of U.S. nuclear exports and financing assistance to Riyadh. The Bank has identified U.S. nuclear energy exports as a key and growing industry, and Saudi Arabia is a leading candidate for such exports as they work to build their first two nuclear power reactors in 2020.

“Congress must take its oversight job seriously and ensure that our exports of civilian nuclear power technologies cannot be diverted to building nuclear weapons.  This is especially true when it comes to regimes like Saudi Arabia’s, where Crown Prince Mohamad bin Salman has engaged in reckless conduct and expressed a desire to acquire nuclear weapons,” said Senator Van Hollen. “By imposing the strictest nonproliferation conditions on the transfer of nuclear technology and export financing assistance, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that U.S. taxpayers do not bankroll a Saudi nuclear bomb.”

“It is firmly in our nation’s interests to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in a volatile Middle East,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “This legislation would appropriately restrict Ex-Im Bank funding until safeguards are in place that prohibits Saudi Arabia from using nuclear technology to build nuclear weapons.”

“For years, the Trump administration has put the profits of contractors and lobbyists looking to cash in on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions above public safety—despite glaring warning signs that Saudi Arabia could use any U.S.-supplied nuclear reactors to move toward a nuclear bomb,” Senator Merkley said. “Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate use of U.S.-supplied conventional weapons in Yemen show why its acquisition of the biggest bomb of all—a nuclear weapon—would be a disaster. This bipartisan legislation introduces critical safeguards to make sure that any nuclear reactor technology exported from American to Saudi Arabia doesn’t end up fueling a dangerous arms race.”

The legislation would:

  • Condition Export-Import Bank financing for the export of U.S. nuclear technology, material, and services to Saudi Arabia on establishment of a “gold standard” nuclear cooperation agreement:
    • Establishment of nuclear cooperation agreement pursuant to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act.
    • Saudi Arabia’s implementation of an Additional Protocol, the highest standard of international safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    • Saud Arabia’s agreement to renounce uranium enrichment and reprocessing on its territory.
  • Require the Export-Import Bank to disclose to Congress the details of the financing transaction, including a description of the nuclear exports the Bank is underwriting and the U.S. and Saudi entities that are a party to the transaction. 

To read the text of the bill, click here.