A House of Representatives oversight committee report from a Democrat-party led Congress, released Tuesday, outlines the Trump administration’s efforts to export nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, drawing attention to the potential illegality of such an effort, given the plan appears to circumvent Congressional approval.
The Atomic Energy Act prohibits the export of nuclear technology to countries without having congressional approval in place in the form of what is called a 123 Agreement.
The Congressional Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, released the interim staff report prepared for Chairman Elijah E. Cummings called “Whistleblowers Raise Grave Concerns with the Trump Administration’s Efforts to Transfer Sensitive Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia.”
The report makes frequent references to “whistleblowers,” a word that appears in the report’s first sentence. It then outlines efforts within the Trump administration that began during his transitional period, prior to his swearing in, to “transfer highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” a country the report portrays as willing to pursue nuclear weapons and not aligned with U.S. interests and values. The report quotes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying in 2018, “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow as soon as possible.”
Also cited is the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashotti. “In October 2108, the brutal murder … was met with equivocation by President Trump and other top Administrative officials. This month, the White House ignored a 120-day deadline for a report on Mr. Khashoggi’s killing … requested by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.”
Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has helped orchestrate the efforts to put the Saudi government and the Trump administration in the same room. Former national security advisor General Michael Flynn was also a strong advocate for the plan, the report says. Flynn once described himself as an “adviser” to IP3 Corporation subsidiary IronBridge Group Inc. during a six month period in 2016.
General Flynn continued to lobby on the company’s behalf even after he joined the Trump administration as the National Security Advisor.
In short, the report has as much to say about the secrecy of the Trump administration’s plans as it does the concept of exporting sensitive material to a government with a poor human rights track record.
It also points to familiar themes that revolve around Trump’s presidency, pointing to staff disagreements, back-stabbing and general chaos in the West Wing. Several staff members informed senior officials that the plan could be illegal, but the warnings did not take hold, according to the report.
A look into IP3 Corporation finds a nuclear export advocacy group with a board of directors and advisers stacked with former high ranking military personnel. Management includes CEO and co-founder Rear Admiral (Ret.) Michael Hewitt. The list of board of directors is made up of five retired generals, rear admirals or admirals out of 10 members.
The company also has links to U.S. nuclear power industrial and service companies, although these are not listed on the web site.
IP3 stands for International Peace, Power and Prosperity, the website says.
The report says nothing negative about nuclear power or the industry. It only points to the risk of exporting sensitive technology to Saudi Arabia, a country in a crisis-oriented region of the world. While neutral on nuclear power, in general, however, the report strongly condemns the Trump administration for going about such an endeavor the wrong way.
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