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Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Lawmakers seek briefing on reported Saudi Arabia’s plan to build nuclear facilities

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A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump seeking more information on Saudi Arabia’s reported efforts to build “secret nuclear facilities.”

The senators say this development threatens to undermine the international nonproliferation regime and U.S. objectives in the Middle East.

“We write to express concern with recent media reports that Saudi Arabia is building secret nuclear facilities, evidence that its nuclear program is rapidly progressing in the absence of strong international safeguards,” the Senators wrote. “Riyadh’s apparent lack of transparency regarding its nuclear efforts coupled with a growing ballistic missile program poses a serious threat to the international nonproliferation regime and United States objectives in the Middle East.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

The lawmakers point out that these reports come as Saudi officials have resisted signing an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Also, they come as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has publicly stated Saudi Arabia’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, the lawmakers said.

In the letter, the Senators said they would like a formal congressional briefing on the state of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and China’s role in these efforts.