Van Hollen, Markey, Merkley, Kaine Seek Answers on Saudi Nuclear Cooperation from Secretary of Energy Nominee Brouillette
Lawmakers have repeatedly called for Congressional oversight of any 123 negotiations between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia
Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) along with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and 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:
- Do you agree with the text of Secretary Rick Perry’s September letter to Saudi Arabia, as reported, that the terms of any potential civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia must also contain a commitment by the country to forgo any enrichment and reprocessing for the term of the agreement?
- Do you agree that the terms of any potential civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia must also contain a commitment by the country to conclude an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency?
- Do you agree that a 123 agreement reviewed by Congress is the sole mechanism through which the Executive Branch has the authority to approve the sharing of nuclear material or equipment with any country?
- Do you believe it is acceptable to authorize the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology, material, or equipment to a country with as poor a record on human rights and rule of law as Saudi Arabia?
- What is the current state of civil nuclear cooperation negotiations with Saudi Arabia?
Next Article Previous Article