According to insiders in Washington speaking off the record, the United States is planning discussions with Saudi Arabia about civilian nuclear cooperation.
The issue has already generated fierce criticism in Congress.
According to administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity, members of President Barack Obama's administration next week will visit Saudi Arabia for nuclear talks, NOW Lebanon news agency reported.
A congressional aide, citing anonymity as the visit has not been publicly announced as yet and aware of its contentiousness, said the trip would be a "preliminary" step to "discuss the possibility of moving forward on a nuclear cooperation agreement."
Informal or not, the proposed arrangement has already raised fierce criticism from Republican Congressional leaders. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida said, "I am astonished that the administration is even considering a nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is an unstable country in an unstable region, with senior officials openly proclaiming that the country may pursue a nuclear weapons capability. Its ties to terrorists and terror financing alone should rule it out as a candidate for US nuclear cooperation."
Ros-Lehtinen’s criticisms conveniently overlook the fact that the administration’s initiative build upon a 2008 visit to Saudi Arabia by Republican then-President George W. Bush, who signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia giving the country access to enriched uranium for civilian power generation.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com