Congressman Sherman Unveils Legislation to Prevent Saudi Arabia from Accessing Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  In the aftermath of the shocking murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) unveiled the No Nuclear Weapon for Saudi Arabia Act of 2018.  This legislation ensures the Trump Administration can’t negotiate a bad deal that would allow the Saudi government to build a nuclear bomb.

The Trump administration is currently negotiating a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia that, under current law, would go into effect unless Congress can muster veto-proof majorities in both houses. The No Nuclear Weapon for Saudi Arabia Act of 2018 would require Congressional approval of any nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia.  After the deal is negotiated, Congress could determine if it contains adequate safeguards to prevent the Saudis from using a “peaceful nuclear energy program” to build a nuclear weapon.

“A government that cannot be trusted with a bone saw, should not be trusted with a nuclear weapon,” Congressman Sherman said.  “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has refused to rule out signing an agreement that would allow the Saudi government to acquire and deploy the technologies necessary to build nuclear weapons.”

The legislation also requires that when the Trump Administration submits a Saudi nuclear agreement, it also submit these reports on: the extent to which Saudi Arabia has agreed to the “Gold Standard” of nuclear safe guards; the extent to which Saudi Arabia has been transparent and truthful in its investigation into the death of Jamal Khashoggi; and whether Saudi Arabia has improved its human rights record, including by releasing political prisoners.

Saudi Arabia’s plan to build a nuclear plant makes no economic sense as a means of generating electricity but makes perfect sense if the goal is to provide a pretext for a nuclear weapons program.  Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has indicated that he believes Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon and that Saudi Arabia should keep pace.

“The Obama administration negotiated a ‘gold-standard’ deal with Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, which prohibits enrichment and reprocessing,” Congressman Sherman said.  “If President Trump is the dealmaker he claims to be, he should be able to negotiate a deal with Saudi Arabia that contains equally strict nuclear safe guards.”

Click here to view Congressman Sherman’s letter to colleagues regarding the legislation.

Click here to view the No Nuclear Weapon for Saudi Arabia Act of 2018.

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