Rick Perry planning nuclear energy talks with Saudi Arabia: report
Energy Secretary Rick Perry will head to London to meet with officials from Saudi Arabia on Friday as the Trump administration considers a nuclear energy deal with the nation, Bloomberg News reports.
Perry scrapped plans to visit India this week in order to hold meetings at the White House and lead Friday’s delegation to the London meetings, according to the news outlet. The administration is reportedly considering a deal that would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium while setting up American companies including Westinghouse Electric Co. to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East.
Perry’s meeting with Saudi Arabian Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih is seen as a crucial stage in the negotiations, which have reportedly been ongoing for months.
Saudi Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next 20 to 25 years, according to the report. The Trump administration is reportedly considering whether to ease restrictions on the sharing of nuclear technology in order to help U.S. companies compete for bids to build those reactors.
The plan has come under criticism from nuclear proliferation skeptics in Congress, however, including Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.), who sent a letter to Perry as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requesting information on the deal. Any nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia would have to be approved by Congress.
“Congress remains in the dark about what exactly is being considered, why we may be re-evaluating our nonproliferation objectives and standards, and how and when this information is being conveyed to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world,” Markey wrote to the Trump administration on Monday.
President Trump visited Saudi Arabia last year, when he agreed to a massive $110 billion arms sale to the country to counter violent extremism.
“Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” Trump said at the time. “That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States.”