According to Business Insider, Rick Perry, the U.S. Energy Secretary approved six authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration has been pursuing a deal on sharing US. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia with the goal to build at least two nuclear power plants. Multiple countries are competing for the deal, including South Korea, Russia, and the U.S. Saudi Arabia will announce the winners of the deal later this year.
Perry’s approvals, which are known as Part 810 authorizations give companies the ability to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of the deal. They would not be allowed to ship equipment that would go into a plant.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said that the companies requested Trump keep the approvals secret.
"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," the NNSA said.
The Energy Department has previously made party 810 authorizations available for the public to read.
Some U.S. lawmakers have voiced concerns that sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that his kingdom would develop nuclear weapons if Iran, its rival, did.
Congressional worry about sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia rose after the death of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. The Part 810 authorizations were made after November 2017, but it is unclear if any of them were made after Khashoggi’s murder.
Representative Brad Sherman (D) asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to release the names of the companies that were approved by mid-April. Pompeo said he would look into it. Pompeo also said that the Trump administration was working to guarantee that any shared technology would not present risks.