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US authorises six nuclear energy companies to share confidential technology with Saudi Arabia

Washington/Riyadh: The United States has approved the sharing of confidential nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia. US Secretary for Energy Rick Perry announced a grant of permission to six companies for supplying classified nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. However, the names of the companies have been withheld, at their request, sources said. Only last month, President Trump was reportedly keen on sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had asserted that if Iran were to become a nuclear state despite the nuclear deal with the western countries, Saudi would not stop short of acquiring nuclear weapons either. Even Saudi could turn nuclear, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had warned. After that, the US media had published reports on Saudi making attempts to acquire nuclear technology from China and Pakistan.

According to a report published in the US daily, ‘The Washington Post’ a ballistic missile manufacturing facility was secretly operational at the military base al-Dawadmi, located approximately 230 Kilometres away from Saudi capital of Riyadh. Furthermore, the newspaper went on to claim that Saudi has completed the construction of structures necessary for the manufacture and testing of missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Also, the daily had published satellite images of the Saudi military base.

Given the scenario, the United States expedited the process of sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia. The US companies had formed a group and initiated discussions with the officials in the Trump administration. Last month, President Trump had even met the representatives of the group. The US administration was then claimed to be preparing to provide nuclear technology to Saudi. Nevertheless, Secretary for Energy Rick Perry’s announcement has confirmed the claims.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency within the US Department of Energy granted clearance to the US companies, to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia. Although, as per sources, it is in the first phase and the companies were instructed only to complete the process for supply and not granted permission to share the technology with Saudi as yet.

The Saudi government has initiated the preparations to build two nuclear projects in the country, and the United States is keen on agreeing to the plans. At the same time, even Russia and South Korea have expressed an interest in partnering with Saudi for nuclear projects. Therefore, the United States has begun to rush on the deal with Saudi and the instructions issued to the US companies to make preparations for providing nuclear technology appears to be a part of the same.

As per US laws, it is necessary to enter into an appropriate agreement with Saudi before building a nuclear project there, and it needs ratification from the US Congress. However, the US Congress is entirely opposed to sharing nuclear technology with Saudi. The US congressmen believe that it would trigger a nuclear race in the Middle East, threatening the peace in the region. Whereas, Saudi has already warned that if Iran acquired a nuclear arsenal, Saudi would not lag on the front either.

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