June 04, 2019

Kaine Statement On Transfers Of Nuclear Technical Expertise To Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, has repeatedly requested information from the Trump Administration about the approval of seven nuclear technical expertise transfers to Saudi Arabia, including whether any of these authorizations occurred after the murder of Virginia resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Following an explicit directive from Senator James Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Department of Energy has finally responded.   While the Department maintains that much of the information must remain confidential to protect the companies’ business interests, the fact the Trump Administration made these approvals is not a trade secret. After reviewing the Department of Energy’s response, Senator Kaine released the following statement:

“It has taken the Trump Administration more than two months to answer a simple question—when did you approve transfers of nuclear expertise from American companies to Saudi Arabia?  And the answer is shocking.   The Administration has approved transfers on seven occasions, the first occurring on December 13, 2017.   Notably, the Administration approved two transfers after the Saudi government assassinated Virginia resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.   The first of those two approvals occurred on October 18, 2018, 16 days after Khashoggi’s murder.   The second of these approvals occurred on February 18, 2019.  And I have serious questions about whether any decisions on nuclear transfers were made based on the Trump family’s financial ties rather than the interests of the American people.

“The alarming realization that the Trump Administration signed off on sharing our nuclear know-how with the Saudi regime after it brutally murdered an American resident adds to a disturbing pattern of behavior that includes citing a bogus emergency to bypass a Congressional block on arms sales to the Saudis, continuing support for the disastrous war in Yemen over Congressional objections, turning a blind eye to the regime’s detention of women’s rights activists, and refusing to comply with the Global Magnitsky Act to reach a determination about the Saudi government’s responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan Congressional objection, harms American national security interests and is one of many steps the Administration is taking that is fueling a dangerous escalation of tension in the region.”

In March, press accounts revealed that the Trump Administration had approved multiple transfers of nuclear technical expertise from American companies to Saudi Arabia.  These transfers, known as Part 810 Authorizations, must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Energy, following agreement by the State Department and consultation with the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to protect against the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs.   In April, Senator Kaine and other colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced a bill to ensure that Congress is provided with all relevant details about any Part 810 Authorization. 

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