The Trump administration approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, despite the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, without informing Congress, according to The Times.
Khashoggi, a Saudi-born U.S. resident, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. One transfer was signed off 16 days after his death. The second transfer came in February.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) disclosed the details of the deals amid concerns that the Trump administration was taking a “business as usual” approach in aiding Saudi Arabia’s desire to keep up with Iran’s nuclear capability.
U.S. lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned with the ease in which President Trump has been able to bypass Congress on sensitive foreign policy deals.
Sen. Kaine, who sits on the Senate foreign relations committee, pressed the energy department for information on nuclear transfers.
“President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan congressional objection, harms American national security interests and [fuels an] escalation of tension in the region,” Sen. Kaine said. “The alarming realization that the Trump administration signed off on sharing our nuclear knowhow with the Saudi regime after it brutally murdered an American resident adds to a disturbing pattern of behavior.”
The authorizations were among seven granted to U.S. companies by the Trump administration since 2017. Saudi Arabia plans to build 18 reactors and is expected to issue tenders next year for the first two. Russia, China, France, and South Korea also seek the business.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) sought bipartisan support to pass 22 joint resolutions seeking to block each of the deals for precision-guided munitions, aircraft engines, mortars, and other equipment and services for Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan.
“We will not allow the president or secretary of state to erode our congressional review and oversight of arms sales,” Sen. Menendez said.
“Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, [but] the behavior of Mohammed bin Salman cannot be ignored. Now is not the time to do business as usual,” Sen. Graham said.