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Trump’s Impact on Nuclear Proliferation,  Treating Foreign Policy as a Business

Trump’s Impact on Nuclear Proliferation,  Treating Foreign Policy as a Business, Just Security,  by Tamsin ShawNovember 18, 2020   Donald Trump has never been known for his visionary foreign policy and yet his presidency will leave the world transformed. In an age of disinformation, the precise nature of the changes he has brought about in global affairs can be elusive, particularly when those changes have resulted from his administration’s clandestine negotiations with Russian officials and businessmen. While America has been focused on the ways in which the Kremlin interfered to support Trump in the 2016 election, too little attention has been paid to what Moscow intended to get out of a Trump presidency or indeed what they got.

From the earliest days of the campaign right up until the present day, Trump and his associates have tried to conduct foreign policy through the genre they know best: the business deal. Since they didn’t use the usual government channels for foreign affairs, unless we have official investigations we won’t know exactly what transpired in these dealings. But there is one area — nuclear energy — in which it seems clear that Russia stands to benefit from these transactions at the expense not only of US interests, but also those of Ukraine and of global nonproliferation more generally. This could present serious challenges to any attempts the Biden administration might make to reconstruct a stable nonproliferation regime.

The impetus for Trump 2016 campaign associates and Trump administration officials to make nuclear energy deals has come in large part from the interest of the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, in nuclear power. And the lure of Saudi billions has created financial incentives that have eclipsed non-proliferation concerns.  ……..

An examination of two separate sets of negotiations reveals distinct forms of corruption and geopolitical risk involved in Trump associates’ nuclear energy deals. The first, led by Trump’s first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, but also implicating other members of Trump’s inner circle, involved openly courting Russia to participate in a nuclear energy deal that would likely further Russian interests at the expense of Ukraine’s. The second, which involved an attempt to purchase nuclear company Westinghouse, was led by Trump’s close associate and former Middle East adviser, Tom Barrack. It didn’t explicitly include Russia, but it was thwarted by Jared Kushner for unknown reasons, and it now appears that Russia may have secretly been a chief beneficiary of the alternative deal that was ultimately made…….

international nuclear security has already been profoundly shaken by a few stamps of Trump’s foot. That includes his withdrawal from three international arrangements — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, and the Open Skies Treaty that permitted verification of nuclear agreements — as well as his potential withdrawal from the U.S. Bilateral Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation. These extraordinary steps have collectively transformed the nuclear landscape. In June of this year he even threatened to restart nuclear testing……..

since 2016, Trump and his team have treated the international nuclear order as if it were cheap real estate in a former Soviet republic: rich in opportunities for deals, liberatingly deficient in enforceable laws and norms. Their secret bargaining over nuclear security has compounded the damage done by Trump’s highly visible unraveling of non-proliferation agreements.

Dispensing with International Regulations

The initial efforts by members of the Trump administration to strike a lucrative nuclear deal were reportedly made by General Michael Flynn. These were detailed in a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform under the late Elijah Cummings, in July 2019, entitled “Corporate and Foreign Interests Behind White House Push to Transfer U.S. Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia.” It exposed a concerted attempt by Trump administration officials to broker nuclear power deals in the Middle East, commenting that the attempt “virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests.”

The Cummings report exposed several attempts by Trump associates to get Saudi financial backing for a plan that involved building nuclear power plants in a block of Middle Eastern countries deemed potentially friendly to the interests of the United States and Israel…………..

November 19, 2020 - Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war

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