Sherman Sends Letter to Secretary of State Pompeo Seeking Answers on Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program
Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), former Chair of the Asia, Pacific and Nonproliferation Subcommittee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting answers to a number of questions on the U.S. government’s efforts to address Saudi Arabia’s partnership with China’s civilian nuclear establishment, as well as to prevent Saudi Arabia from conducting activities which could lead to a nuclear weapons capability.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal notably reported that Saudi Arabia has secretly constructed, with the assistance of China, a facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium ore.
For years, Congressman Sherman has been trying to raise the alarm regarding the issue of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program and the possibility that the Kingdom could use civilian nuclear power as an aid and disguise for a covert weapons program. Sherman successfully included language in the House’s National Defense Authorization Act requiring countries that want to sign a 123 Agreement, like Saudi Arabia, to agree, at the very least, to sign the Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition, Congressman Sherman joined Senators Markey and Rubio, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in introducing legislation that increases Congressional oversight over any civil nuclear cooperation agreement – or 123 agreement – between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Given Saudi Arabia’s stated desire to potentially seek a nuclear weapon, Congress should be concerned regarding the discovery of the construction of a plant to process uranium ore. Saudi Arabia, which has been negotiating a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the Trump Administration, has thus far refused to sign the Additional Protocol. This refusal has raised further concerns that Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power program is actually designed to acquire nuclear weapons.
“A government that cannot be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons,” said Congressman Sherman, referencing the Saudi government’s murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “We need answers as to if the Administration has engaged with the Saudis on the issue of partnering with the Chinese to advance their nuclear program.”
See the full letter here.