Rubio, Menendez request probe into administration's nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia

Rubio, Menendez request probe into administration's nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio criticizes Warren response on same-sex marriage opposition as condescending MORE (R-Fla.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Senators ask Treasury to probe Brazilian meatpacker with major US footprint Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (D-N.J.) on Thursday called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the Trump administration's nuclear negotiations with Saudi Arabia amid reports that senior White House officials pushed for the sale of nuclear technology to Riyadh. 

"We request that GAO conduct an urgent review of [the Department of Energy's] interactions with Saudi Arabia regarding nuclear cooperation, how it has coordinated with or involved other relevant agencies, particularly the State Department, and the specific initiatives or proposals for nuclear cooperation that have been presented or discussed in those interactions," the senators wrote in a letter to Gene Dorado, who leads the GAO. 

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The two said in their letter that members of the Foreign Relations Committee, including both of them, are concerned that discussions on nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia "are happening in a very opaque manner" and that "DOE’s interactions with Saudi Arabia are not being fully coordinated within the interagency and that other key agencies, such as the State Department, may not be fully engaged or involved in the DOE-led discussions or negotiations."

They specifically requested that the GAO probe the extent of Energy Department interactions with Saudi organizations regarding future cooperation, what the nature of such interactions has been, whether the Energy Department has involved other government agencies and officials in these interactions and whether Energy officials have shared information with nongovernmental organizations or commercial entities. 

The senators also said that before they can approve a nuclear agreement, referred to as a 123 agreement, committee members would want to ensure that it does not create a security threat. 

“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,” they said in their letter. 

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Energy for comment.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee announced last month that they are launching an investigation into the Saudi negotiations "to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump administration are in the national security interests of the United States or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy."