Less than a day after voting with Democrats to block President Trump’s border national emergency edict, Senator Marco Rubio (R) has joined Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (NJ) in calling for a probe into the Trump administration’s ongoing nuclear power negotiations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The senators have asked the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, to look into what the Trump Administration and Obama Administration have been negotiating with the Saudis.
.@SenatorMenendez and I requested GAO open a review into the Executive Branch’s negotiations with #SaudiArabia, as well as any negotiation by the executive branch since December 2009, regarding a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.https://t.co/KASI5VlMvI
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) March 15, 2019
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Here is what Rubio posted on his senate website:
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today formally requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) open a review into the Trump Administration’s negotiations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as any negotiation by the executive branch since December 2009, regarding a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. In a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the senators requested the GAO, a non-partisan agency which conducts studies on behalf of Congress, investigate reports that some of the negotiations under the Trump Administration have been carried out without the oversight required by the Atomic Energy Act and in an opaque manner inconsistent with previous nuclear agreement negotiations.
The senators raised concerns about the Trump administration’s process for negotiating the nuclear cooperation agreement, known as a 123 agreement, and about the broader security implications of a Saudi nuclear program. In particular, the senators noted that it was unusual for the Department of Energy (DOE) to appear that it is leading the negotiations, instead of the State Department, and were troubled by the administration’s lack of consultations with Congress. Moreover, the letter raises concerns that specific proposals or initiatives presented by DOE officials in their discussions with the Saudis were reportedly not being fully vetted across the interagency for security, proliferation, and other concerns.
“Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have a range of concerns surrounding a potential 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, including regional security and nuclear proliferation concerns associated with a Saudi civilian nuclear program,” wrote the Senators. “Before the committee approves a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia, Members would want to be assured that any agreement includes rigorous nonproliferation safeguards and other conditions to prevent nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia from undermining or threatening regional or international security.”
“In particular, some Members hope and expect that any 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia will conform with the tougher ‘Gold Standard’ created by the 123 agreement with the United Arab Emirates of December 2009, in which the Emirates agreed to forswear uranium enrichment and spent-fuel reprocessing, and to sign, ratify and implement the Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” the Senators added. “The UAE also reserved the right to renegotiate a new 123 agreement if the United States concludes a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with another state in the Middle East that does not uphold the Gold Standard.”
Senators Rubio and Menendez conclude by requesting the GAO “begin this work as soon as possible, and provide regular updates to Members of the Committee on the status of its work, including any access issues or other issues impeding GAO’s work.”