President Donald Trump’s government is bypassing the United States Congress to advance the sale of US nuclear power plants despite concerns it would violate US law protecting against tech transfers, according to a new report by a committee.
US legislators are worried about the stability of Saudi leadership under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen. Multiple unnamed “whistleblowers” have begun to warn about White House attempts to speed the transport of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to build new nuclear power plants from Saudi Arabia, according to the staff report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The whistleblowers who came forward have cautioned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that may implicate national criminal statutes,” Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democrat chairman of the committee, stated in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.
A vital goal of the Oversight Committee’s inquiry is an effort by IP3 International, a consortium of nuclear power manufacturers that started lobbying throughout the Trump transition in late 2016 and early 2017 to acquire presidential approval to create nuclear energy plants from Saudi Arabia.
Thomas Barrack has encouraged to White House officials the IP3 proposal, according to the report. Barrack is a personal friend of the president that raised $107m for Trump’s Inaugural Committee. The inaugural committee actions are being investigated by US prosecutors in New York.
‘Chaos, dysfunction, backbiting’
The committee released documents explaining the IP3 proposal. Cummings’ letter demands documents and emails from the White House associated with the discussions of nuclear power development in the Middle East.
Whistleblowers “cautioned about a functioning environment within the White House indicated by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting. And they’ve cautioned about political appointees ignoring directives from leading ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and repeatedly ordered senior Trump government officials to stop their attempts”, Cummings wrote in the letter.
Separately, on January 1, 2017, McFarlane, the founders of IP3 and the CEOs of six companies – Exelon Corp., Toshiba Energy, Bechtel Corp., Centers, GE Power, and Siemens USA – had sent a letter to MBS promoting the proposal, according to the report.
“This is much more about Trump wanting to do favors for the Saudis for fiscal reasons and to buttress the Saudis against Iran from the region. However, the Saudis do not require nuclear energy, and if they get it, will just induce Iran to restart its nuclear programme,” Tom Collina, policy director in the Ploughshares Fund, a nonproliferation advocacy group based in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.
“This is Trump choosing favorites in the Middle East which won’t end well,” Collina explained. Iran has continued to comply with the agreement. The EU, Russia, and China have refused to go to reimpose sanctions.