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High Standards at Issue for Saudi Nuclear Pact
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U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters Sept. 26 that negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the United States on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement have slowed but are continuing. More recently, the diplomatic repercussions from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may impact U.S. policy and the complicate the ambitions of companies such as Westinghouse Electric for a U.S. role building nuclear power plants in the kingdom. State Department officials have said that the administration is pressing Saudi Arabia to commit to forgoing the ability to make nuclear fuel and to ratify stricter verification under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s additional protocol. The United Arab Emirates committed to this so-called gold standard in 2009 to obtain its civil nuclear pact with Washington. Perry, who is leading negotiations with Saudi Arabia, has not been so firm in his public statements, and Saudi Arabia has resisted these restrictions. (See ACT, April 2018.). Members of Congress continue to encourage the strictest standards for any agreement with Saudi Arabia, including pushing State Department officials on this issue at a Sept. 18 hearing, and have pressed for a floor vote on a bipartisan-approved Senate Foreign Relations Committee resolution calling for the “gold standard.” (See ACT, September 2018.)—SHERVIN TAHERAN

Posted: November 1, 2018