Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
US House reports security risk after investigation into leak of nuclear technology information to Saudi Arabia
© WikiMedia (Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)
US House reports security risk after investigation into leak of nuclear technology information to Saudi Arabia

The US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report Tuesday outlining the Trump administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, after receiving concerning whistleblower complaints.

The complaints arose after whistleblowers noticed “efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) and without review by Congress as required by law—efforts that may be ongoing to this day.” The Trump administration has reportedly been pressured by strong private commercial entities, which have been “pressing aggressively for the transfer of highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia—a potential risk to U.S. national security absent adequate safeguards.” The entities hope that sharing the information will foster billions of dollars in nuclear facility construction and operation contracts.

Such acts, if proven true, may be in violation of the AEA, which imposes “stringent controls on the export of U.S. technology to a foreign country that could be used to create nuclear weapons.”

The report details several complaints the whistleblowers raised and the level of detail which they were able to provide on the issues:

[The whistleblowers] have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes. They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting. And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump Administration officials to halt their efforts … [T]hey stated that they felt compelled to convey their profound concern with the abnormal acts they witnessed inside the White House, including the disregard of advice from career officials, who repeatedly warned about the potential dangers of proceeding with such a sensitive proposal without full consideration and review.

One key proponent of the efforts is alleged to be General Michael Flynn. Evidence shows that Flynn described himself as an “advisor” to IP3—”a private company that has assembled a consortium of U.S. companies to build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.”

Experts have said that if the allegations are true, Americans should worry that “transferring sensitive U.S. nuclear technology could allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East.”