Top Trump appointees promoted selling nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over objections from national security officials, House Democratic report says
February 20, 2019

As reported by the Washington Post.

Here is a link to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee report itself.

(And see the Committee's press release, posted at its website, here. The Committee is chaired by U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore, Maryland-Democrat.)

While certain aspects of this story had been broken by such publications as Newsweek in the past, never before has such detail been revealed, including about the raging, repeated objections raised by national security officials in the U.S. government, including at the National Security Council.

As IEER warned in its 2006 book Insurmountable Risks, the spread of nuclear power technology risks the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

As Rachel Maddow put it on her broadcast on MSNBC just last night, during her coverage of this story, nuclear power and nuclear weapons are "kissing cousins." Acquisition of nuclear power technology, such as uranium enrichment and/or plutonium reprocessing, can lead to nuclear weapons development.

The U.S. House Government Oversight and Reform Committee report that has led to front page headlines across the news media mentioned that the Trump administration's flirtation with the idea of transferring sensitive nuclear weapons-usable technology to Saudi Arabia went on as recently as last week.

This, despite the murder, and dismemberment, of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi counsulate in Turkey, by Saudi officials closely connected to Saudi Crown Prince MBS (Mohammed bin Salman). As the article reports:

The report's release comes at a particularly difficult moment in Saudi-U.S. relations. In the aftermath of the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Congress has expressed reluctance to continue with a business-as-usual relationship with Riyadh.

As reported by the New York Times last Thanksgiving, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) warned that Saudi Arabia can't be trusted with a bone saw, let alone nuclear weapons:

“It is one thing to sell them planes, but another to sell them nukes, or the capacity to build them,’’ said Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Following Mr. Khashoggi’s death, Mr. Sherman has led the charge to change the law and make it harder for the Trump administration to reach a nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia. He described it as one of the most effective ways to punish Prince Mohammed.

“A country that can’t be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons,” Mr. Sherman said, referring to Mr. Khashoggi’s brutal killing in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last month.

In fact, a majority of the U.S. House just voted to end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia's brutal war against Houthi insurgents in Yemen. As Democracy Now! has long reported, in terms of famine, cholera, and carnage, the war is effectively a genocide against the Yemeni civilian population caught in the crossfire.

And as Maddow also reported on her show last night, MBS has said out loud, and publicly, that should Saudi Arabia's arch enemy, Iran, take steps to develop nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would match them, step for step.

Of course, Egyptian diplomat Mohammed Elbaradei, then director of the IAEA, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work to prevent U.S. wars against Iraq (unsuccessful) and Iran (thus far successful), warned more than a decade ago that the only reason 13 Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, were interested in develping nuclear power industries, was in order to have pathways to the development of nuclear weapons arsenals.

Such risks of nuclear weapons proliferation are the reason for Atomic Energy Act of 1954 Section 123 safeguards in the first place, and the requirement for congressional approval before the transfer of sensitive technology to foreign countries, as discussed on last night's Rachel Maddow Show.

Remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian citizens. These Al Qaeda operatives, who killed nearly 3,000 Americans that dreadful morning, had funding support even from members of the Saudi royal family. There has long been deep support for Wahabbism within the Saudi royal family, an extremist fundamenatlist sect of Islam associated with the promotion of terrorist attacks.

The lead attacker, Mohammed Atta, had considered attacking Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City. But he assumed it had air defenses that would have foiled such an attack. As UCS's Ed Lyman told the Detroit Free Press recently, Indian Point actually lacked such air defenses in 2001.

(Truth be told, Indian Point -- and the rest of the U.S. nuclear power industry -- effectively lack air defenses still, nearly two decades later. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assumes the TSA and U.S. military will stop 9/11-style air attacks on U.S. atomic reactors and high-level radioactive waste storage pools. Data points that bear this out are the documentary film "Imaging the Unimaginable," aired on HBO, showing the filmmaker Rory Kennedy's helicopter buzzing Indian Point for a half-hour before even being contacted by plant security to see who they were, and what they were doing; and a 2013 documentary film, in which the filmmaker hired a fixed wing general aviation aircraft to simply fly directly over the atomic reactors and vulnerable on-site high-level radioactive waste storage.)

Lyman reported in 2004 that a successful terrorist attack at Indian Point could cause a trillion dollars in property damage, as well as nightmarish numbers of radiation poisoning deaths (numbering in the tens of thousands) and latent cancer fatalities (the latter category, over half a million). Such figures are orders of magnitude worse than what occurred 9/11, nightmarish and world-changing as that was.

More recently, Lyman, as well as Von Hippel et al., reported that an accident at a High-Level Radioactie Waste storage pool could also cause $2 trillion in property damage. Several millions of people could require long-term to permanent evacuation. Of course, a terrorist attack could unleash such hellish consequences by intention, rather than by accident.

It is shocking that President Trump, Energy Secretary Perry, and others in the administration are still considering transfer of nuclear weapons usable technology to the MBS regime in Saudi Arabia, which is, as we speak, torturing Saudi women activists for merely advocating for women's right to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, and decapitated a Saudi teenager who was set to attend college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, merely because he had attended a couple pro-democracy rallies in Saudi Arabia years earlier, at an younger age.

Update on February 20, 2019 by Registered Commenteradmin

The Washington Post's Energy202/PowerPost/Lightbulb has also reported on this story.

So too has:

NPR; the New York Times; the Guardian.

The Washington Post has published an editorial on this story, entitled "Why was the Trump administration so eager to give nuclear technology to the reckless Saudi regime?"

Article originally appeared on Beyond Nuclear (
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