Washington DC, June 5: United States President Donald Trump administration has on Wednesday granted two authorizations to American firms to share their nuclear power details with Saudi Arabia, shortly after the issue of killing of US journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October in Saudi consulate of Istanbul, according to a US Senator who reviewed the approvals on Tuesday.
According to Al-Jazeera news reports, the current situation of the approvals is expected to ratchet pressure on the Trump administration from politicians who have been critical of Washington’s support for Riyadh since Khashoggi’s murder last year.
It was concluded by the US intelligence that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, also knows as MbS, has ordered the killing of Khashoggi – a conclusion which the Kingdom rebuffs.
A Democrat from Virginia, Senator Tim Kaine labelled the timing of the approval as “shocking”.
On October 18, just days after Khashoggi’s murder, the department of energy has granted the 1st version of 810 authorization, and the 2nd came on February 18.
The 810 authorizations permit American firms to do preliminary business with Saudi Arabia on nuclear power but not shit equipment for a plant, according to sources having knowledge of the agreement told Reuters last March.
Kaine, who urged Trump administration to release authorizations, stated the approvals were “one of the many steps the administration is taking that is fueling a dangerous escalation of tension in the region”.
Confidentially, the energy department kept the firms involves in sharing nuclear tech information with Saudi Arabia, citing the requirement to defend business interests.
Kaine accused the department of dragging its feet over revealing the dates of the authorizations. “They wouldn’t give us the date and they dragged it out for two and a half months because they knew that we would be shocked when we got the information about it,” Kaine said.
“I want to dig into the companies that get nuclear approval. I think we need to do more work to explore their financial ties to the Trump family,” he added.
However, the energy department was not available for the request to comment immediately over the issue.
Several American legislators have expressed concerns over sharing nuclear information with Riyadh that could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, eventually.