Washington has secretly given the go-ahead to several companies to sell nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports, citing a document it had obtained. The document featured an approval of six authorizations for nuclear power tech by Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
The request for secrecy came from the companies that won the authorizations, according to the document, authored by officials from the National Nuclear Security Administrations.
“In this case, each of the companies which received a specific authorization for (Saudi Arabia) have provided us written request that their authorization be withheld from public release,” it said.
An official from the Department of Energy told Reuters the reason for the secrecy was that the requests from the companies to partake in the deal with Saudi Arabia contained proprietary information.
The information comes on the heels of a report that the Government Accountability Office had initiated a probe into the U.S.-Saudi nuclear power talks that have been going on for a while. There is one important obstacle in these talks and this is Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to sign a nuclear co-operation agreement under the Atomic Energy Act that seeks to guarantee that nuclear technology is only used for civil purposes.
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The Financial Times recalls that two months ago Congress accused the Trump administration of trying to sell U.S. nuclear power technology in defiance of the law. A recent report for the House of Representatives said the administration was trying “to rush the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.”
In this, Reuters notes, the U.S. competes with South Korea and Russia. Riyadh will announce the companies that will build Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactors later this year. There is concern, however, that the Kingdom will not use nuclear technology for strictly civil purposes, which could ignite an arms race in the Middle East.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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