Trump’s administration reportedly looked for ways to help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear weapon – Business Insider
President Donald Trump’s administration has done several secretive and highly suspicious activities that suggest the US is now clearing a path for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to build a nuclear bomb.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a report on Tuesday with whistleblowers saying Trump administration officials tried to transfer sensitive nuclear secrets to one of the world’s last true monarchies.
“The Trump Administration’s interactions with Saudi Arabia have been shrouded in secrecy, raising significant questions about the nature of the relationship,” the report said, citing Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the Saudi royal family and Trump’s response to the killing of the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, which prevented Saudi Arabia’s bitter regional rival from seeking a nuclear weapon, in 2017, saying it went against US interests.
Since then, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iran’s nuclear programs, has consistently reported that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.
But Trump and his top administration officials routinely dismiss US intelligence reports that conclude Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.
In responding to the killing of Khashoggi, Trump appeared willing to accept Saudi Arabia’s version of events despite a “high confidence” assessment from the CIA that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing.
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” the Saudi crown prince said in 2018.
Trump’s plans to nuclearize Saudi Arabia go back to day 1
From the report:
“Derek Harvey, the Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) from January to July 2017, stated during the first week of the Trump Administration that the decision to adopt [a business plan to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia] … which it called the Middle East Marshall Plan, and develop ‘dozens of nuclear power plants’ had already been made by General [Michael] Flynn during the transition—while he was serving as an advisor to IP3 [the company that proposed the business plan].”
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and became the first of many Trump officials indicted and sentenced over undisclosed ties to foreign powers. Flynn reportedly also failed to disclose a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia to explore building nuclear power plants jointly with Russia.
The whistleblowers went on to say that the career staff for Derek Harvey, the former Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs at the National Security Council, warned him that any nuclear technology transferred to Saudi Arabia would need to reach a “123 Agreement,” or a requirement in the US’s Atomic Energy Act that would demand the Saudis agree to nine nuclear nonproliferation clauses.
Basically, the US could legally transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia if the Saudis agreed to keep the material safe, let inspectors check on it, and never use it to make a nuclear weapon.
Harvey’s staff reportedly warned him he couldn’t get around this law, but “Mr. Harvey reportedly ignored these warnings and insisted that the decision to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia had already been made.”
“Both career and political staff inside the White House reportedly agreed that Mr. Harvey’s directive could violate the law. One senior political official stated that the proposal was ‘not a business plan,’ but rather ‘a scheme for these generals to make some money,'” the report continued.
After Flynn had been replaced at the National Security Council, his successor, H.R. McMaster, canceled the plan, according to the report.
Turning a blind eye to missiles, too?
As the whistleblowers described it, Trump’s officials tried to provide the Saudis with a clear path to a nuclear warhead by transferring nuclear technology to them with no strings attached on how they could use it.
But nuclear warheads represent only half the puzzle for fully functional nuclear weapons: A country also needs missiles to carry them. And there again, Trump’s administration has appeared hospitable.
An expert analysis of satellite imagery has exposed suspected ballistic-missile production sites, something that the US would normally oppose.
“Under normal circumstances, we would be doing everything we could possibly do to constrain and convince the Saudis not to do this,” Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told The Washington Post. “The US has always been opposed to the transfer of missiles that are inherently capable of carrying nuclear weapons.”
Business Insider has reached out to the National Security Council, which did not comment on this story.