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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Negotiations continue, as USA keen to market nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 12th Jan 2018, After a lengthy hiatus, negotiations will soon resume between the United
States and Saudi Arabia on an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation.
Concluding a bilateral civil nuclear agreement (often called a “123
agreement,” after the section of the Atomic Energy Act mandating such
agreements for nuclear cooperation with other countries) would enable US
companies to participate in the Saudi Kingdom’s ambitious plans to build a
fleet of nuclear power reactors to meet its growing electricity
requirements.
Previous negotiations stalemated over the treatment of
uranium enrichment, with the United States insisting that Saudi Arabia
accept a legally binding commitment not to engage in enrichment or
plutonium reprocessing and the Saudis refusing to foreclose what they
regard as their sovereign right to pursue nuclear technologies of their
choosing for peaceful purposes.
https://thebulletin.org/us-saudi-civil-nuclear-negotiations-finding-practical-compromise11426
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January 15, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

A recipe for global catastrophe? Nuclear power for Saudi Arabia

Financial Tribune (Iran) 26th Dec 2017 A lawmaker denounced the prospect of a US uranium enrichment deal with Saudi Arabia, predicting a “global catastrophe” should the oil kingdom mix
nuclear technology with its takfiri ideology.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and
Foreign Policy Commission, said, “Unfortunately, even human rights and international laws have not stopped the Saudi crimes in Yemen. Now, if Saudi Arabia is allowed the uranium technology, it would certainly use it in its military.” Takfiris are hardliners who accuse anyone, including Muslims, not following their extreme interpretation of Islam as infidels and apostates punishable by death.
https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/78650/us-nuclear-deal-with-saudis-could-lead-to-catastrophe

December 27, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabi keen for nuclear power – and for nuclear weapons?

Saudi-US talks on civilian nuclear program to begin within ‘weeks’  Riyadh’s energy minister insists kingdom seeks energy for peaceful purposes, but will not agree to American limitations on uranium enrichment

December 22, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s disturbing willingness to sell nuclear technologies without the usual restrictions, to Saudi Arabia

U.S. To Boost Saudi Nuclear Power Development. Lobe Log., DECEMBER 14, 2017,  Almost a decade has passed since President George W.  Bush promised that the United States would help Saudi Arabia develop commercial nuclear energy plants. When he visited Riyadh in May 2008, he pledged to sign a “memorandum of understanding,” or MOU, committing the United States to “assist the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to develop civilian nuclear power for use in medicine, industry and power generation” and “establish a comprehensive framework for cooperation in the development of environmentally sustainable, safe, and secure nuclear energy.”

In return, Saudi Arabia, a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, would also join the worldwide Proliferation Security Initiative, a U.S.-sponsored program to confront the threat of nuclear proliferation.

The text of that MOU has never been made public, and nothing much happened as a result of it until last week. Then, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after meeting senior officials in the kingdom, urged the Saudis to choose a U.S.-based vendor, Westinghouse Electric Co., to participate in the nuclear energy program to which the Saudis have long been committed.

The Energy Department’s official statement about Perry’s talks with Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, did not use the word “nuclear,” but numerous reports from the region said the Saudis heard Perry’s arguments for Westinghouse and were receptive to them.

“We heard that message that … ‘we want the United States to be our partner in this’,” Perry told the Reuters news agency. Westinghouse spokeswoman Sarah Casella said in a statement to Bloomberg News that “Westinghouse is pleased that Saudi Arabia has decided to pursue nuclear energy. We are fully participating in their request for information and are pleased to provide the AP1000 plant, the industry’s most advanced technology.” The Energy Department did not respond to several requests to go beyond its original statement or to confirm Perry’s reported remarks, but neither has it denied them.

There was a time when the words “nuclear” and “Saudi Arabia” in the same sentence would set off alarms all over Washington, because any such development in Saudi Arabia is bound to raise fears that the Saudis would use their program to develop nuclear weapons to counter what they fear is happening in Iran……….

Saudi Arabia has discussed nuclear development with China, Russia, and France, among other potential suppliers.

Under U.S. law, Westinghouse or any other U.S.-based vendor can sell material and technology to Saudi Arabia only after the two countries negotiate a nuclear cooperation agreement, known as a 123 Agreement for the section of the law setting the requirement. The U.S.-Abu Dhabi agreement is known in the industry as the “gold standard,” because the government of the United Arab Emirates agreed to forgo both ends of the nuclear fuel cycle–it will neither enrich its own uranium nor reprocess its spent fuel to extract the plutonium.

The Saudis have made clear that they do not want to accept the same restrictions because their country has extensive uranium resources, which they want to process domestically. In articles in the trade press in 2010, an executive of a Finnish firm that was consulting with the Saudis on their program said that it could eventually include enrichment of uranium.

That was a non-starter while Barack Obama was president, but reports of Perry’s commitment to expedite an agreement have ignited speculation that the United States is preparing to soften its terms to accommodate the Saudis on this point, especially because of the close ties that have developed between the Trump administration and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler…….

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said in a statement that “The Trump administration’s willingness bend key rules and standards designed to restrict the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies that can be used to make nuclear weapons to in order to help U.S. companies profit from nuclear commerce with Saudi Arabia is  disturbing and counterproductive.” He said Congress, “which will have to review any such agreement, should insist on the highest possible nonproliferation standards for nuclear commerce, especially in a troubled and unstable region.”……..https://lobelog.com/u-s-to-boost-saudi-nuclear-power-development/

December 16, 2017 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, USA | 2 Comments

Trump, ready to make it easy for Saudi Arabia to get ‘peaceful” nuclear, AND nuclear weapons

Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/trump-is-said-to-consider-easing-nuclear-rules-for-saudi-project By Jennifer Jacobs,  Ari Natter,and Jennifer A Dlouhy  

  • Westinghouse is looking for new markets after bankruptcy
  • Past deals barred uranium enrichment for overseas projects

The Trump administration is encouraging Saudi Arabia to consider bids by Westinghouse Electric Co. and other U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in that country and may allow the enrichment of uranium as part of that deal, according to three people familiar with the plans.

 Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Saudi Arabia this month where the projects were discussed, according to two people. The people familiar asked not to be identified discussing the confidential negotiations.
Previous U.S. agreements have prohibited the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium, and that had scuttled negotiations to use U.S. technology in Saudi nuclear projects during the Obama administration. The administration is mulling easing that requirement now as a way to help Westinghouse and other companies win Saudi Arabian contracts, two people said.

A meeting to hammer out details of the nuclear cooperation agreement, known as a 123 Agreement for the section of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act that requires it, will be held at the White House Wednesday, two administration officials said.

A successful U.S. bid would help deliver on President Donald Trump’s promise to revive and revitalize the domestic nuclear industry, helping American companies edge out Russian and Chinese competitors to build new fleets around the world. Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Westinghouse, the nuclear technology pioneer that is part of Toshiba Corp., went bankrupt in March, after it hit delays with its AP1000 reactors at two U.S. plants. After it declared bankruptcy, Westinghouse — whose technology is used in more than half the world’s nuclear power plants — said it shifted its focus to expanding outside the U.S.

Winning contracts in Saudi Arabia could provide a new market that Westinghouse needs and provide at least a partial vindication for the investment in the AP1000 technology.

“Westinghouse is pleased that Saudi Arabia has decided to pursue nuclear energy,” Sarah Cassella, a spokeswoman, said in a emailed statement. “We are fully participating in their request for information and are pleased to provide the AP1000 plant, the industry’s most advanced technology.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, said weakening the prohibition against enrichment and reprocessing, often referred to as “the gold standard,” is disturbing given what he said was Saudi Arabia’s “sub-par nuclear nonproliferation record.”

“We shouldn’t compromise our longstanding efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons in order to play favorites with certain companies or countries,” he said in an email, calling the idea “disturbing and counterproductive.”

— With assistance by Chris Martin

December 13, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

It looks as if Saudi Arabia wants uranium enrichment etc as prelude to nuclear weapons development

Beyond Nuclear 6th Dec 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih is extending invitations
to the U.S. nuclear industry to launch the Gulf Region’s most ambitious
nuclear power program. The Saudi atomic energy plan is to build as many as
17 nuclear power plants by 2032. The Saudi Arabia government has stated
that its atomic power program will be “self-sufficient” in the
production of nuclear fuel at 5% enriched uranium-235 and purely directed
for civilian power development.

The pronouncement comes as Saudi energy officials remain silent on their past refusal to not pursue high-grade
uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies as military
weapons production facilities. In any case, the introduction of nuclear
materials will significantly increase instability and tensions in the
region. http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2017/12/6/us-nuclear-companies-invited-to-help-launch-saudi-arabias-da.html

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Rick Perry to visit Saudi Arabia – a nation keen to have nuclear reactors AND to highly enrich uranium

U.S. Firms Courting Saudi Arabia to Build Nuclear Reactors; Rick Perry to Visit Riyadh, Haaretz, 3 Dec 17,  One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses.
U.S. firms attracted by Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear reactors are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on an agreement to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, three industry sources said.
Saudi Arabia has welcomed the lobbying, they said, though it is likely to worry regional rival Iran at a time when tensions are already high in the Middle East.
One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses – though this is a standard condition of U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts. “They want to secure enrichment if down the line they want to do it,” the source, who is in contact with Saudi and U.S. officials, said before U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant, holds talks in Riyadh early next week.
Another of the industry sources said Saudi Arabia and the United States had already held initial talks about a nuclear cooperation pact. U.S. officials and Saudi officials responsible for nuclear energy issues declined to comment for this article. The sources did not identify the U.S. firms involved in the lobbying.
Under Article 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, a peaceful cooperation agreement is required for the transfer of nuclear materials, technology and equipment. In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement with the United States that would deprive the kingdom of the possibility of one day enriching uranium. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, says it wants nuclear power solely for peaceful uses – to produce electricity at home so that it can export more crude. It has not yet acquired nuclear power or enrichment technology.
Riyadh sent a request for information to nuclear reactor suppliers in October in a first step towards opening a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors, and plans to award the first construction contract in 2018.
Reuters has reported that Westinghouse is in talks with other U.S.-based companies to form a consortium for the bid. A downturn in the U.S. nuclear industry makes business abroad increasingly valuable for American firms.
Reactors need uranium enriched to around 5 percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, which enriches uranium domestically.
Riyadh’s main reason to leave the door open to enrichment in the future may be political – to ensure the Sunni Muslim kingdom has the same possibility of enriching uranium as Shi’ite Muslim Iran, industry sources and analysts say.
Potential problem for Washington
Saudi Arabia’s position poses a potential problem for the United States, which has strengthened ties with the kingdom under President Donald Trump……….https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.826436

December 4, 2017 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry keen to sell to ANYBODY – pushing for Saudi Arabia sales

U.S. firms push Washington to restart nuclear pact talks with Riyadh: sources    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-nuclear-usa/u-s-firms-push-washington-to-restart-nuclear-pact-talks-with-riyadh-sources-idUSKBN1DV586?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews. Reem ShamseddineSylvia Westall RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) 1 Dec 17,  – U.S. firms attracted by Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear reactors are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on an agreement to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, three industry sources said.

Saudi Arabia has welcomed the lobbying, they said, though it is likely to worry regional rival Iran at a time when tensions are already high in the Middle East.

One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses – though this is a standard condition of U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts.

“They want to secure enrichment if down the line they want to do it,” the source, who is in contact with Saudi and U.S. officials, said before U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry holds talks in Riyadh early next week.

Another of the industry sources said Saudi Arabia and the United States had already held initial talks about a nuclear cooperation pact.

U.S. officials and Saudi officials responsible for nuclear energy issues declined to comment for this article. The sources did not identify the U.S. firms involved in the lobbying.

Under Article 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, a peaceful cooperation agreement is required for the transfer of nuclear materials, technology and equipment.

In previous talks, Saudi Arabia has refused to sign up to any agreement with the United States that would deprive the kingdom of the possibility of one day enriching uranium.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, says it wants nuclear power solely for peaceful uses – to produce electricity at home so that it can export more crude. It has not yet acquired nuclear power or enrichment technology.

Riyadh sent a request for information to nuclear reactor suppliers in October in a first step towards opening a multi-billion-dollar tender for two nuclear power reactors, and plans to award the first construction contract in 2018.

Reuters has reported that Westinghouse is in talks with other U.S.-based companies to form a consortium for the bid. A downturn in the U.S. nuclear industry makes business abroad increasingly valuable for American firms.

Reactors need uranium enriched to around 5 percent purity but the same technology in this process can also be used to enrich the heavy metal to a higher, weapons-grade level. This has been at the heart of Western and regional concerns over the nuclear work of Iran, which enriches uranium domestically.

Riyadh’s main reason to leave the door open to enrichment in the future may be political – to ensure the Sunni Muslim kingdom has the same possibility of enriching uranium as Shi‘ite Muslim Iran, industry sources and analysts say.

POTENTIAL PROBLEM FOR WASHINGTON

Saudi Arabia’s position poses a potential problem for the United States, which has strengthened ties with the kingdom under President Donald Trump.

Washington usually requires a country to sign a nuclear cooperation pact – known as a 123 agreement – that forfeits steps in fuel production with potential bomb-making uses.

“Doing less than this would undermine U.S. credibility and risk the increased spread of nuclear weapons capabilities to Saudi Arabia and the region,” said David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

It is not clear whether Riyadh will raise the issue during Perry’s visit, which one of the industry sources said could include discussion of nuclear export controls.

Under a nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 with world powers – but which Trump has said he might pull the United States out of – Tehran can enrich uranium to around the level needed for commercial power-generation.

It would be “a huge change of policy” for Washington to allow Saudi Arabia the right to enrich uranium, said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas office at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

“Applying the ‘golden standard’ of not allowing enrichment or preprocessing (of spent fuel) has held up a 123 agreement with Jordan for many years, and has been a key issue in U.S. nuclear cooperation with South Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, a nuclear policy expert.

The United States is likely to aim for restrictions, non-proliferation analysts say.

These could be based on those included in the 123 agreement Washington signed in 2009 with the United Arab Emirates, which is set to start up its first South Korean-built reactor in 2018 and has ruled out enrichment and reprocessing.

“Perhaps Saudi Arabia is testing the Trump administration and seeing if the administration would be amenable to fewer restrictions in a 123 agreement,” ISIS’s Albright said.

It would be “a huge change of policy” for Washington to allow Saudi Arabia the right to enrich uranium, said Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Americas office at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

“Applying the ‘golden standard’ of not allowing enrichment or preprocessing (of spent fuel) has held up a 123 agreement with Jordan for many years, and has been a key issue in U.S. nuclear cooperation with South Korea,” said Fitzpatrick, a nuclear policy expert.

The United States is likely to aim for restrictions, non-proliferation analysts say.

These could be based on those included in the 123 agreement Washington signed in 2009 with the United Arab Emirates, which is set to start up its first South Korean-built reactor in 2018 and has ruled out enrichment and reprocessing.

“Perhaps Saudi Arabia is testing the Trump administration and seeing if the administration would be amenable to fewer restrictions in a 123 agreement,” ISIS’s Albright said.

December 2, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

A Terrorist State? Saudi Arabia? (and it might get nuclear weapons)

Is Saudi Arabia also amongst the terrorists? The News, Nigeria Dec 1 2017 By Owei Lakemfa.

I am fascinated by Saudi Arabia. It does not care what others say or think. It simply pursues its own goals and policies, submitting to no other than its master, the United States of America. To it, women are legally inferior to men and no amount of human or women rights campaigns will change that………

When I was in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body, there were constant complaints against Saudi Arabia violating all known labour laws against migrant workers. They simply sack or deport tens of thousands especially Indians, Filipinos, Ethiopians and Pakistanis, without paying them backlog of salaries. In one operation, after rounding up migrant workers for deportation without salaries, the Saudis simply forgot them for days, leaving them stranded without water or food.

Many do not sanction capital punishment, but for the Saudis, it is a way of life. A human being can be beheaded for a sundry of reasons including murder, treason, espionage and rape. But there are others like apostasy and blasphemy. If you are an atheist, and so disclose, your head is severed. It is difficult to prove sorcery and witchcraft, but if a person is in possession of talisman, according to the Saudis, he is guilty, and is a candidate for execution. Execution is primarily, beheading with a sword called SULTHAN and the most infamous star in that art is Muhammad Saad al-Beshi, who described his first execution in 1998: “The criminal was tied and blindfolded. With one stroke of the sword I severed his head. It rolled metres away…People are amazed how fast [the sword] can separate the head from the body.”……….

the Israeli Energy Minister, Yuval Steinitz disclosed that Israel had held covert meetings with Saudi Arabia on how to jointly fight Iran. There is no love lost between Saudi Arabia which sees itself as the custodian of the Sunni Movement, and Iran which sees itself as the guardian of the Shiite Movement. So can this be the policy of ‘My enemy’s enemy, is my friend’? It should come as a surprise that a Muslim country is working out an alliance with a Jewish state to attack a sister Muslim country.

Saudi Arabia does not waste time rolling out its military might to achieve political goals. For this, it invaded Bahrain in 1994, and when there was a popular revolt against the Al-Khalifa Monarchy, Saudi Arabia on March 14, 2011, again invaded Bahrain and crushed the protests.

But it is in Yemen Saudi Arabia has most displayed it its military prowess. There had been an uprising against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A combination of Houthi rebels and Yemeni military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, had removed Hadi. An angry Saudi Arabia fell on Yemen bombing large parts into near extinction. Everything is game to the Saudi bombers which first obliterated schools and hospitals then turned its fury on any gathering; markets, weddings, even funerals. It also imposed a blockade. Over 12,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed. 3.3 million children and nursing mothers are suffering from acute malnutrition, and cholera is rampant, yet Saudi Arabia and its allies will not relent. The cemeteries are over flowing so much that a good foreign investment in Yemen would be the building of new cemeteries.

Nobody is talking about crimes against humanity because the Saudis have powerful friends in the United Nations and “international community’ Many want a slice of the huge Saudi arms budget. When American President Donald Trump visited Riyadh this May, he smiled home with a $350 Billion arms contract for his country. With this, it was not difficult to get America endorse Saudi Arabia’s illegal blockade and sanctions against tiny Qatar who was told to either accept a 13-Point Saudi Demand including the closure of Al Jazeera, or face annihilation………. http://thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2017/12/is-saudi-arabia-also-amongst-the-terrorists/

December 2, 2017 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Trump administration, Michael Flynn, and dodgy nuclear deals with Saudi Arabia

White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia, The overture follows an intense and secretive lobbying push involving Michael Flynn, Tom Barrack, Rick Gates and even Iran-Contra figure Robert McFarlane. Pro Publica by Isaac Arnsdorf, The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.

Saudi Arabia needs approval from the U.S. in order to receive sensitive American technology. Past negotiations broke down because the Saudi government wouldn’t commit to certain safeguards against eventually using the technology for weapons.

Now the Trump administration has reopened those talks and might not insist on the same precautions. At a Senate hearing on Nov. 28, Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, disclosed that the U.S. is discussing the issue with the Saudi government. He called the safeguards a “desired outcome” but didn’t commit to them.

Abandoning the safeguards would set up a showdown with powerful skeptics in Congress. “It could be a hell of a fight,” one senior Democratic congressional aide said.

The idea of sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia took an unlikely path to the highest levels of government. An eccentric inventor and a murky group of retired military brass — most of them with plenty of medals but no experience in commercial nuclear energy — have peddled various incarnations of the plan for years.

Many U.S. officials didn’t think the idea was serious, reputable or in the national interest. “It smelled so bad I said I never wanted to be anywhere close to that,” one former White House official said. But the proponents persisted, and finally found an opening in the chaotic early days of the Trump administration, when advisers Michael Flynn and Tom Barrack championed the idea……

In 2008, the Saudi government made a nonbinding commitment not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing. They then entered negotiations with the U.S. for a pact on peaceful nuclear cooperation, known as a 123 agreement, after a section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. A 123 agreement is a prerequisite for receiving American technology.

The talks stalled a few years later because the Saudi government backed away from its pledge not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing, according to current and former officials. “They wouldn’t commit, and it was a sticking point,” said Max Bergmann, a former special assistant to the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security at the time those negotiations occurred……..

The Obama administration held firm with the Saudis because it’s one thing to cap nuclear technology where it already exists, but it’s longstanding U.S. policy not to spread the technology to new countries. As Saudi Arabia and Iran — ideological and religious opponents — increasingly squared off in a battle for political sway in the Middle East, Republicans argued that the Obama administration had it backwards: It was enshrining hostile Iran’s ability to enrich uranium while denying the same to America’s ally Saudi Arabia.

One such critic of Obama’s Iran policy was Michael Flynn, a lieutenant general who was forced out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. Flynn quickly took up a variety of consulting assignments and joined some corporate boards. One of the former was an advisory position for a company called ACU Strategic Partners, which, according to a later financial disclosure, paid Flynn more than $5,000.

Flynn was one of many retired military officers whom ACU recruited. ACU’s chief was a man named Alex Copson, who is most often described in press accounts as a “colorful British-American dealmaker.” Copson reportedly made a fortune inventing a piece of diving equipment, may or may not have been a bass player in the band Iron Butterfly, and has been touting wildly ambitious nuclear-power plans since the 1980s. (He didn’t answer repeated requests for comment.)

By 2015, Copson was telling people he had a group of U.S., European, Arab and Russian companies that would build as many as 40 nuclear reactors in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Copson’s company pitched the Obama administration, but officials figured he didn’t really have the backers he claimed. “They would say ‘We have Rolls-Royce on board,’ and then someone would ask Rolls-Royce and they would say, ‘No, we took a meeting and nothing happened,’” recalled a then-White House official.

In his role with ACU, Flynn flew to Egypt to convince officials there to hold off on a Russian offer (this one unrelated to ACU) to build nuclear power plants. Flynn tried to persuade the Egyptian government to consider Copson’s proposal instead, according to documents released by Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Flynn also tried to persuade the Israeli government to support the plan and spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia. (The trip would later present legal problems for Flynn because he didn’t report contacts with foreign officials on his application to renew his security clearance, according to Cummings. Cummings referred the information to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Trump’s associates and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Flynn’s lawyer declined to comment.)

Copson’s outfit eventually splintered. A retired admiral named Michael Hewitt, who was to head up the security services part of the project, struck out on his own in mid-2016. Flynn went with him.

Hewitt’s new company is called IP3 International, which is short for “International Peace Power & Prosperity.” IP3 signed up other prominent national security alumni including Gens. Keith Alexander, Jack Keane and James Cartwright, former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, Bush Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend, and Reagan National Security adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane.

IP3’s idea was a variation on ACU’s. Hewitt swapped out one notional foreign partner for another (Russia was out, China was in), then later shifted to an all-American approach. That idea resonated with the U.S. nuclear-construction industry, which never recovered from the Three Mile Island disaster in the 1970s and was looking to new markets overseas.

But nuclear exports are tightly controlled because the technology is potentially so dangerous. A 123 agreement is only the first step for a foreign country that wants to employ U.S. nuclear-power technology. In addition, the Energy Department has to approve the transfer of technology related to nuclear reactors and fuel. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses reactor equipment, and the Commerce Department reviews exports for equipment throughout the rest of the power plant.

IP3 — whose sole project to date is the Saudi nuclear plan — never went through those normal channels. Instead, the company went straight to the top.

At the start of the Trump administration, IP3 found an ally in Tom Barrack, the new president’s close friend and informal adviser and an ultra-wealthy investor in his own right. During the campaign, Barrack wrote a series of white papers proposing a new approach to the Middle East in which economic cooperation would theoretically reduce the conditions for breeding terrorism and lead to improved relations.

Barrack wasn’t familiar with nuclear power as an option for the Middle East until he heard from Bud McFarlane. McFarlane, 80, is most remembered for his role in the defining scandal of the Reagan years: secretly selling arms to Iran and using the money to support Nicaraguan rebels. He pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress but was pardoned by George H.W. Bush.

Nevertheless, Barrack was dazzled by McFarlane and his IP3 colleagues. “I was like a kid in a candy shop — these guys were all generals and admirals,” Barrack said in an interview. “They found an advocate in me in saying I was keen on trying to establish a realignment of U.S. business interests with the Gulf’s business interests.”

McFarlane followed up the meeting by emailing Flynn in late January, according to six people who read the message or were told about it. McFarlane attached two documents. One outlined IP3’s plan, describing it as consistent with Trump’s philosophy. The second was a draft memo for the president to sign that would officially endorse the plan and instruct his cabinet secretaries to implement it. Barrack would take charge of the project as the interagency coordinator. Barrack had discussions about becoming ambassador to Egypt or a special envoy to the Middle East but never committed to such a role. (McFarlane disputed that account but repeatedly declined to specify any inaccuracies. IP3 declined to comment on the memos.)

Flynn, now on the receiving end of IP3’s lobbying, told his staff to put together a formal proposal to present to Trump for his signature, according to current and former officials.

The seeming end run sparked alarm. National Security Council staff brought the proposal to the attention of the agency’s lawyers, five people said, because they were concerned about the plan and how it was being advanced. Ordinarily, before presenting such a sensitive proposal to the president, NSC staff would consult with experts throughout government about practical and legal concerns. Bypassing those procedures raised the risks that private interests might use the White House to their own advantage, former officials said. “Circumventing that process has the ability not only to invite decisions that aren’t fully vetted but that are potentially unwise and have the potential to put our interests and our people at risk,” said Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and NSC spokesman.

Even after those concerns were raised, Derek Harvey, then the NSC’s senior director for the Middle East, continued discussing the IP3 proposal with Barrack and his representative, Rick Gates, according to two people. Gates, a longtime associate of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, worked for Barrack on Trump’s inaugural committee and then for Barrack’s investment company, Colony NorthStar.

By then, Barrack was no longer considering a government position. Instead, he and Gates were seeking investment ideas based on the administration’s Middle East policy. Barrack pondered the notion, for example, of buying a piece of Westinghouse, the bankrupt U.S. manufacturer of nuclear reactors. (Harvey, now on the staff of the House intelligence committee, declined to comment through a spokesman. In October, Mueller charged Manafort and Gates with 12 counts including conspiracy against the U.S., unregistered foreign lobbying, and money laundering. They both pleaded not guilty. Gates’ spokesman didn’t answer requests for comment.)

Ultimately, it wasn’t the NSC staff’s concerns that stalled IP3’s momentum. Rather, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior aide tasked with reviving a Middle East peace process, wanted to table the nuclear question in favor of simpler alliance-building measures with the Saudis, centered on Trump’s visit in May, according to a person familiar with the discussions. (A spokesperson for Kushner, asked for comment, had not provided one at the time this article was published; we’ll update the article if he provides one later.)


In recent months, the proposal has stirred back to life as the Saudi government kicked off a formal process to solicit bids for their first reactors. In October, the Saudis sent a request for information to the U.S., France, South Korea, Russia and China — the strongest signal yet that they’re serious about nuclear power.

The Saudi solicitation also gave IP3 the problem its solution was searching for. The company pivoted again, narrowing its pitch to organizing a consortium of U.S. companies to compete for the Saudi tender. IP3 won’t say which companies it has signed up. IP3 also won’t discuss the fees it hopes to receive if it were part of a Saudi nuclear plan, but it’s vying to supply cyber and physical site security for the plants. “IP3 has communicated its strategy to multiple government entities and policy makers in both the Obama and Trump administrations,” the company said in a statement. “We view these meetings and any documents relating to them as private, and we won’t discuss them.”

The Saudi steps lit a fire under administration officials. Leading the charge is Rick Perry, the energy secretary who famously proposed eliminating the department and then admitted he didn’t understand its function. (It includes dealing with nuclear power and weapons.) Perry had also heard IP3’s pitch, a person familiar with the situation said. In September, Perry met with Saudi delegates to an international atomic energy conference and discussed energy cooperation, according to a photo posted on his Facebook page. Perry’s spokeswoman didn’t answer requests for comment.

Other steps followed. Soon after, a senior State Department official flew to Riyadh to restart formal 123 negotiations, according to an industry source. (A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment.) In November, Energy and State Department officials joined a commercial delegation to Abu Dhabi led by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main lobby in Washington. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Edward McGinnis said the administration wants to revitalize the U.S. nuclear energy industry, including by pursuing exports to Saudi Arabia. The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Energy Department are organizing another industry visit in December to meet with Saudi officials, according to a notice obtained by ProPublica. And in the days before Thanksgiving, senior U.S. officials from several agencies met at the White House to discuss the policy, according to current and former officials.

The Trump administration hasn’t stated a position on whether it will let the Saudis have enrichment and reprocessing technology. An NSC spokesman declined to comment. But administration officials have begun sounding out advisers on how Congress might react to a deal that gives the Saudis enrichment and reprocessing, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Senators have started demanding answers. At the Nov. 28 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ford, the NSC nonproliferation official who has been nominated to lead the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, testified that preliminary talks with the Saudis are underway but declined to discuss the details in public. As noted, Ford wouldn’t commit to barring the Saudi government from obtaining enrichment and reprocessing technology. “It remains U.S. policy, as it has been for some time, to seek the strongest possible nonproliferation protections in every instance,” he told the senators. “It is not a legal requirement. It is a desired outcome.” Ford added that the Iran deal makes it harder to insist on limiting other countries’ capabilities.

Sen. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who led the questioning of Ford on this topic, seemed highly resistant to the idea of the U.S. helping Saudi Arabia get nuclear technology. “If we continue down this pathway,” he said, “then there’s a recipe for disaster which we are absolutely creating ourselves.” Markey also accused the administration of neglecting its statutory obligation to brief the committee on the negotiations. (The White House declined to comment.)

Any agreement, in this case with Saudi Arabia, would not require Senate approval. However, should an agreement be reached, Congress could kill the deal. The two houses would have 90 days to pass a joint resolution disapproving it. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Ben Cardin, suggested they wouldn’t accept a deal that lacked the same protections as the ones in the UAE’s agreement. “If we don’t draw a line in the Middle East, it’s going to be all-out proliferation,” he said. “We need to maintain the UAE’s standards in our 123 agreements. There’s just too many other countries that could start proliferating issues that could be against our national interest.”

Bob Corker, the committee’s chairman, has been a stickler on nonproliferation in the past; he criticized the Obama administration for not being tough enough. Corker isn’t running for reelection and has criticized Trump for being immature and reckless in foreign affairs, so he’s unlikely to shy away from a fight. (A spokesman declined to comment.) “The absence of a consistent policy weakens our nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and sends a mixed message to those nations we seek to prevent from gaining or enhancing such capability,” Corker said at a hearing in 2014. “Which standards can we expect the administration to reach for negotiating new agreements with Jordan or Saudi Arabia?” https://www.propublica.org/article/white-house-may-share-nuclear-power-technology-with-saudi-arabia

December 1, 2017 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

France joins the rush to market nuclear power to Saudi Arabia

Reuters 29th Nov 2017, French state-controlled utility EDF intends to take part in a tender to
build two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, two sources familiar with the
situation told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, which wants to reduce domestic oil
consumption, is considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear-fuelled
power generation capacity by 2032 and has sent a request for information to
international suppliers to build two reactors

With answers to the request due by the end 2017 or early 2018, a formal tender could be launched by
mid-2018, but more likely toward the end of 2018 or early 2019, industry
specialists say.   https://www.reuters.com/article/saudi-nuclear-edf/update-1-frances-edf-plans-to-bid-in-saudi-arabia-nuclear-tender-sources-idUSL8N1NZ1YN

December 1, 2017 Posted by | France, marketing, Saudi Arabia | 2 Comments

Russia’s Rosatom touting for nuclear sales to Saudi Arabia

Russia’s Rosatom hopes to win Saudi nuclear plants’ tender, DANANG, Vietnam, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Russian state nuclear company Rosatom hopes to win a tender announced by Saudi Arabia to build nuclear plants in the kingdom, Alexei Likhachyov, head of Rosatom, told reporters.

“As far as I understand, they (Saudi Arabia) should make a decision next year about the construction and a constructor. We hope it will be us,” he said.

Rosatom has sent initial proposals to Saudi Arabia for nuclear power generation and would make a bid if a tender is announced, the company said earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)  DANANG, Vietnam, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Russian state nuclear company Rosatom hopes to win a tender announced by Saudi Arabia to build nuclear plants in the kingdom, Alexei Likhachyov, head of Rosatom, told reporters.

“As far as I understand, they (Saudi Arabia) should make a decision next year about the construction and a constructor. We hope it will be us,” he said.

Rosatom has sent initial proposals to Saudi Arabia for nuclear power generation and would make a bid if a tender is announced, the company said earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia is considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)

November 10, 2017 Posted by | marketing, Russia, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

NUCLEAR SAUDI ARABIA: Oil-rich nation to extract uranium – but only for ‘peaceful’ uses

SAUDI Arabia has announced plans to go nuclear and extract uranium domestically in order to develop its nuclear power programme amid rising tensions over North Korea’s missile ambitions. Express UK By WILL KIRBYA senior government official insisted the uranium would only be used for “peaceful purposes” to allow the oil-rich nation to diversify its energy supply.

It comes amid soaring tensions on the Korean peninsula as Kim Jong-un continues to build his nuclear arsenal threatening the outbreak of World War 3.

But Saudi Arabia insists its nuclear power plans are for peaceful purposes.

Saudi Arabia is working towards “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel, a senior official explained, and extracting its own uranium makes economic sense before it starts building its first nuclear reactors next year.

Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, head of the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear plans, did not say whether the country plans to enrich and reprocess uranium – which would make it a potential option for military use……http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/873676/saudi-arabia-nuclear-power-energy-uranium-plant-iran-weapons-north-korea-news

November 2, 2017 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia drums up support for nuclear energy ambitions

by Utilities ME Staff on Oct 3, 2017 Saudi Arabia is said to be seeking out international partners to further its development plans within the nuclear and atomic energy sector.

The president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) is reported to have held “high-level meetings with representatives of Russian, US, Japanese, and South Korean delegations” to review how they may support the kingdom’s plans to implement the National Atomic Energy Project.

Dr Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, the president of KACARE, met these officials on the sidelines of the 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), currently underway in Vienna…….http://www.utilities-me.com/article-5094-saudi-arabia-drums-up-support-for-nuclear-energy-ambitions/

October 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

China marketing nuclear power to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia signs cooperation deals with China on nuclear energy, Gulf News, 24 Aug 17 

Kingdom launched a renewable energy programme this year, and winning bid for first utility-scale solar project is due in November

Khobar, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia and China are to cooperate on nuclear energy projects following discussions between the two countries this week on ways to support the kingdom’s nuclear energy programme, state news agency SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia has been for years trying to diversify its energy mix so that it can export more of its oil, rather than burning it at power and water desalination plants.

It launched a renewable energy programme this year with the announcement of the winning bid for its first utility-scale solar project due in November.

In addition to that programme, Riyadh is in the early stages of feasibility and design studies for its first two commercial nuclear reactors, which will total 2.8 gigawatts.

China’s leading state nuclear project developer China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) has now signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) to promote further existing cooperation between the two sides to explore and assess uranium and thorium resources, SPA said…….

Saudi Arabia has also set up a joint investment fund with China and on Thursday signed 11 deals worth $20 billion (Dh73.4 billion) with China as part of an official visit of Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli to Saudi Arabia. http://gulfnews.com/business/sectors/energy/saudi-arabia-signs-cooperation-deals-with-china-on-nuclear-energy-1.2079896

August 26, 2017 Posted by | China, marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment