The interim report of the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform drew upon President Donald Trump’s “equivocal” response to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi
New Delhi: Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman might have been in the spotlight of news cycles amid heightened India-Pakistan tensions post-Pulwama terror attack, but his diplomacy has many more facets. So much so, the Trump administration is planning to transfer highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
Much to its chagrin, the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform prepared an interim report “after multiple whistle-blowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law — efforts that may be ongoing to this day.”
The Trump administration, the report said, had been into diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, which were “shrouded in secrecy, raising significant questions about the nature of the relationship”.
The report noted that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kusher “orchestrated” a visit to Saudi Arabia as the “President’s first overseas trip”.
“Mr Kusher met on his own with then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…” The report noted further how subsequently bin Salman ousted his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef and organised a crackdown on many in the Saudi royal family, and “reportedly bragged that Mr Kusher was ‘in his pocket’”.
The report drew upon Trump’s “equivocal” response to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The oversight committee alleged that private interests were pressing for technology transfer, despite “a potential risk to US national security”, as they stood “to reap billions of dollars through contracts associated with constructing and operating nuclear facilities in Saudi Arabia.”
The report noted that “experts worry that transferring sensitive U.S. nuclear technology could allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conceded this point in 2018, proclaiming: “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible”.”
Under Section 123 of its own Atomic Energy Act, “the US may not transfer nuclear technology to a foreign country without the approval of Congress, in order to ensure that the agreement reached with the foreign government meets nine specific non-proliferation requirements. The whistle-blowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.”
The whistle-blowers also “have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes. They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting,” interim staff report said.
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Last Updated Feb 20, 2019, 6:22 PM IST