Two recent nuclear-related developments in the Middle East have caused renewed concerns of nuclear proliferation, and Iran’s malign ambitions will only exacerbate those concerns if not kept in check. Two of the strongest detractors of the failed nuclear deal between the Obama-Biden administration and the Islamic Republic of Iran were the Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Both nations have sought to expand their self-proclaimed nuclear power programs recently, as Tehran’s regional belligerence has continued.
In the Saudis’ case, this growth has expanded beyond the scope of a 123 agreementwith the United States, with recent reports surfacing of a previously unknown facility built with Chinese help for the purpose of extracting uranium yellowcake (a first step in acquiring materials needed for a either a power plant or a bomb). The clandestine site, if confirmed, should be of particular concern, as it raises the possibility of a larger hidden program.
Last year, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) raised concerns over the approval of licenses for American companies to sell nuclear-related technologies outside of a 123 agreement. This led the senators to request a Government Accountability Office study on negotiations the Trump administration has “carried out without proper oversight and in an opaque manner inconsistent with previous nuclear agreement negotiation.” The study concluded that not enough was being done to keep Congress apprised of nuclear-related negotiations—not unlike complaints in the run-up to the 2015 deal with Iran (the JCPOA).
Read More: Newsweek