Bob Menéndez and Marco Rubio Want Probe into the Trump Administration's Nuclear Negotiations with Saudi Arabia
Senators Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) earlier this month requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open a review into the Trump administration’s negotiations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, regarding a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters. The Trump administration has quietly pursued a wider deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia, which aims to build at least two nuclear power plants. Several countries including the U.S., South Korea, and Russia are in competition for that deal. The winners are expected to be announced later this year by Saudi Arabia. Menéndez and Rubio want the GAO to investigate reports that some of the negotiations under the Trump administration have been carried out without the oversight required by the Atomic Energy Act and in a manner inconsistent with previous nuclear agreement negotiations. In their letter, the duo wrote that members of the Foreign Relations Committee, including both of them, are concerned that discussions on nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia "are happening in a very opaque manner" and that the Energy Department's (DOE) "interactions with Saudi Arabia are not being fully coordinated within the interagency and that other key agencies, such as the State Department, may not be fully engaged or involved in the DOE-led discussions or negotiations." They requested that the GAO probe the extent of DOE interactions with Saudi organizations, the nature of such interactions, whether the DOE has involved other government agencies and officials in these interactions, and whether Energy officials have shared information with nongovernmental organizations or commercial entities. The Senators also said that before they can approve a nuclear agreement, Committee members would want to ensure that it does not create a security threat. Read the full letter here.