US Senate releases resolution blocking Saudi from developing nuclear weapons under pact

The US senators from both Democrats and Republicans introduced a resolution on Tuesday that would block Saudi Arabia from developing any nuclear weapons and missiles under any deal to share with the United States nuclear power technology.

According to Reuters news reports, under the measure, any US civilian nuclear cooperation pact with Saudi Arabia, or 123 agreement, would prevent the country from any reprocessing of plutonium or enrichment of uranium made in reactors, considered as routes making nuclear weapons.

Though, it is still unclear whether the 100-member Senate would support the resolution proposed by Democrats Ed Markey and Jeff Merkley and Republican Rand Paul. Also, the resolution is non-binding over the US government.

But according to significant reports, the resolution is expected to signal in the US Congress on Saudi-led nuclear campaign in war-torn Yemen country, and over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year on October 2.

US energy secretary Rick Perry has been holding dialogues with Saudi Arabia officials over sharing the US nuclear technology. The US President Donald Trump has hosted the nuclear power executives for dialogues on Tuesday on keeping up the industry competitive over exports with Russia, China and France.

The resolution is expected to pressure the administration to push for the deal with several tougher standards.

In a release, Merkley said: “If Saudi Arabia is going to get its hands on nuclear technology, it’s absolutely critical that we hold it to the gold standard for non-proliferation. The last thing America should do is inadvertently help develop nuclear weapons for a bad actor on the world stage.”

Saudi has said Riyadh wanted to become self-sufficient in producing the nuclear fuel and also it is not at all interested in diverting its nuclear technology to the military use. But however, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS news agency last year that his country will be developing nuclear weapons if arch-foe Iran does.

Previously, Saudi had refused to sign the pact with Washington that would prevent Saudi from enriching uranium. However, the Saudi embassy in the US did not offer any comment to a request for comment.

Last year, Saudi put forth the US on a shortlist with South Korean state-run KEPCO, along with Russia, China and France in a bid for a nuclear power project.

US reactor builder Westinghouse which is owned by Brookfield Asset Management Inc, would likely to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in any pact.

Chris Crane, president and chief operating officer of Exelon Corp, the largest U.S. nuclear power operator, told reporters that Trump appeared supportive in Tuesday’s conference with the executives but also wants them to further clarify their expectations.

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