nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Satellite images reveal that Saudi Arabia has almost completed its first nuclear reactor site

Saudi Arabia has almost completed its first nuclear reactor site, satellite images reveal

Saudi Arabia’s latest construction is raising eyebrows in the West, with these new satellite images sparking fears about the kingdom’s quest for power. News.com.au, Gavin Fernando, @gavindfernando, 8 Apr 19

Saudi Arabia has nearly completed construction of its first nuclear reactor, sparking fears about the country’s quest for nuclear power.

New satellite images, first published by Bloomberg, show construction on the building site has made significant process over the past three months.

The three images below [on original] show the rapid developments on the site between April 2017 and today.

The images show the construction of a 10-metre high steel vessel, which would contain nuclear fuel, and construction work on the surrounding concrete building.

The facility is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh.

………Robert Kelley, a nuclear expert and veteran of the US Department of Energy, said the reactor could be completed in “nine months to a year”.

He said the construction appears to be small in size and intended for research and training purposes.

Mr Kelley also said that, before the kingdom can insert nuclear fuel into the reactor, it would have to abide by international agreements.

He said it had been surprising to him “how non-transparent” the kingdom had been in the process of building the reactor and “how they seem very cavalier about modifying their arrangements with the IAEA”.

Mr Kelley was referring to agreements the kingdom has signed. The kingdom agreed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty three decades ago. In 2005, it signed an agreement with the IAEA known as the “small quantities protocol” that allowed countries with negligible nuclear programs to be exempt from regular inspections or nuclear monitoring.

However, once nuclear fuel was brought into the country to operate this small reactor, inspections by the IAEA would be required, Mr Kelley added.

…….. He said the Saudi reactor was being built by the Argentinian government-owned company INVAP. Before Argentina brings nuclear fuel to Saudi Arabia for the reactor, the IAEA agreement in place that exempts Saudi Arabia from inspections would need to be rescinded, Mr Kelley said.

“I think it’s a 100 per cent certainty that Argentina is not going to supply uranium fuel to a country that doesn’t have a safeguards agreement in force,” he added.

……….  the kingdom has previously pushed back against agreeing to US standards that would block two paths to potentially making fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was adamant that it was unacceptable for Saudi Arabia to become a nuclear power.

“We will not permit that to happen. We will not permit that to happen anywhere in the world,” he told CBS. “The President understands the threat of proliferation. We will never write a $150 million check to the Saudis and hand them over the capacity to threaten Israel and the United States with nuclear weapons, never.”

The publication of the satellite images follows a struggle between the Trump administration and Congress over the sale of nuclear technology to Riyadh.

Last month, The Daily Beast revealed the US Department of Energy had approved six authorisations for US companies that were looking to conduct nuclear-related work in the Middle Eastern kingdom.

The approvals, known as Part 810 authorisations, would allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal but not ship equipment that would go into a plant………https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/saudi-arabia-has-almost-completed-its-first-nuclear-reactor-site-satellite-images-reveal/news-story/64346c4fbf0906ee7c2ddb3b95541c4d

 

Advertisements

April 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia moves forward on developing a nuclear industry

Saudi plans to invite bids for nuclear power project in 2020  https://gulfbusiness.com/saudi-plans-invite-bids-nuclear-power-project-2020/ 7 Apr 19, The world’s top oil exporter wants to diversify its energy mix Saudi Arabia plans to issue a multi-billion-dollar tender in 2020 to construct its first two nuclear power reactors and is discussing the project with U.S. and other potential suppliers, three sources familiar with the plans said.The world’s top oil exporter wants to diversify its energy mix, adding nuclear power so it can free up more crude for export. But the plans are facing Washington’s scrutiny because of potential military uses for the technology.

Saudi Arabia, which aims to mine for uranium, says its plans are peaceful. But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2018 the kingdom would develop nuclear arms if Iran did.

U.S., Russian, South Korean, Chinese and French firms are in talks with Riyadh to supply reactors, a promising deal for an industry recovering from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“Saudi Arabia is continuing to make very deliberate steps forward although at a slower pace than originally expected,” one of the sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Saudi officials previously said they aimed to select a vendor in late 2018, which then slipped to 2019. The sources said the tender would now be issued in 2020.

Two sources said the project was proceeding slowly partly because the kingdom was still in discussions with all potential suppliers rather than narrowing them down to a short list.

The plans have also been delayed by strained ties with Washington, which criticised Riyadh after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October, a source familiar with the talks said.

Riyadh needs to sign an accord on the peaceful use of nuclear technology with Washington to secure the transfer of U.S. nuclear equipment and expertise, under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week that the negotiations which began in 2012 were continuing.

The source said Washington has also been seeking to convince Riyadh to sign the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol on extra safeguards for verifying nuclear technology is used for peaceful applications. The kingdom has so far resisted, the source added.

The fate of these negotiations could determine whether Riyadh reaches a deal with U.S. firms, the source said.

WORKSHOPS

Saudi Arabia, which sent a “request for information” (RFI) to nuclear vendors in 2017, is holding workshops with vendors from five nations as part of the pre-tender process, one source said, adding that this was expected to last 12 to 15 months.

The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), tasked with developing the nuclear programme, has brought in an executive from oil giant Saudi Aramco to help manage the pre-tender consultancy process, two sources said.

The Energy Ministry, overseeing the project, and the kingdom’s international press office did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

KACARE has in the past said the kingdom was considering building 17.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2032, requiring about 16 reactors. But the sources said the focus for now was on the first two reactors and a potentially smaller programme.

Neighbouring UAE is building a nuclear power plant, the first in a Gulf Arab state. Iran, across the Gulf, has a nuclear plant in operation and has been locked in a row over its nuclear ambitions with the United States.

Saudi Arabia, which has long vied with Iran for regional influence, has said it will not sign any deal with the United States that deprives the kingdom of the possibility of enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel in the future, both potential paths to a bomb.

South Korea’s state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), Russian state nuclear group Rosatom, French utility EDF, state-run China National Nuclear Corp and U.S. Westinghouse have expressed interest in the Saudi project.

April 8, 2019 Posted by | marketing, politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard slams decision to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons tech 

‘How does this serve US interests?’ Gabbard slams decision to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons tech  https://www.rt.com/usa/455279-gabbard-saudi-arabia-extremism-isis/  2 Apr, 2019 Tulsi Gabbard has slammed the US for allowing firms to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear tech despite its history of exporting extremism which inspires Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, which she says the Kingdom supports.

The Hawaiian congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate took aim at the Kingdom’s history of extremism in a Twitter video that criticized Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s secret authorizations, to six US companies, allowing for the sale of nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, as Reuters revealed last week. Gabbard said the move is “both mind-blowing and inexplicable.”

Saudi Arabia is the “primary exporter of jihadist ideology, Wahhabi Salafist ideology that is the motivation and inspiration for terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda – groups that the Saudis both directly and indirectly support,” Gabbard said.

The kingdom has been tied to Al-Qaeda and extremism in the past, with 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers coming from Saudi Arabia, according to the CIA. In 2015, one of the alleged hijackers, Zacarias Moussaoui, claimed several members of the Saudi royal family had been listed as Al-Qaeda donors in the database he worked on under orders of Osama bin Laden, US media reported.

WikiLeaks cables from the US State Department from 2009 revealed“donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” In a 2014 email, published by WikiLeaks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saudi Arabia was “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” It has also supplied weapons to IS in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to create at least two nuclear power plants, but many are concerned that’s a precursor to developing nuclear weapons, which would further destabilize the region. It was also reported, last year, that Israel was selling Saudi Arabia nuclear secrets.

 

April 8, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Tensions in volatile Middle East region, as Saudi nuclear program accelerates

Saudi nuclear program accelerates, raising tensions in volatile region, Country building experimental reactor

Click Orlando , April 06, 2019 On the outskirts of Riyadh, a building site is quickly being transformed into the birthplace of Saudi Arabia’s quest for nuclear power, a bid that has sparked concern in the US Congress and fury in Tehran.

New satellite imagery shows that construction on an experimental reactor is making “expeditious” progress — just three months after the Kingdom announced plans to build it, according to former director for nuclear inspections at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Robert Kelley.

Kelley estimated that the reactor could be completed in “nine months to a year.”

The Kingdom has been open about its nuclear program with the IAEA, which sent a team to Saudi Arabia last July to check on building plans. It has repeatedly pledged that the program is peaceful. But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last year that “without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

Also raising concern among industry experts and some in Congress is the Saudi insistence that it should be allowed to produce its own nuclear fuel, rather than import it under strict conditions.

In an interview last year, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al Falih said: “It’s not natural for us to bring enriched uranium from a foreign country to fuel our reactors,” citing the country’s uranium reserves.

Vision 2030

Saudi Arabia went public with its nuclear ambitions nine years ago, but the plans have gone into overdrive as part of the Crown Prince’s “Vision 2030” — a strategy to wean Saudi Arabia off its reliance on oil and diversify both the economy and its energy mix……….

The IAEA sent a team to Saudi Arabia in July last year to review the development of its nuclear power infrastructure. That mission concluded that the Kingdom is “well placed to finalize its plans for construction of its first nuclear power plant” through partnerships with countries that have nuclear power industries.

In a visit to Riyadh in January, Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General, confirmed Saudi Arabia had “made significant progress in the development of its nuclear power infrastructure.”

But when the Saudis want to move to the next stage — fueling the reactor at King Abdulaziz City and any commercial plants — they will have to submit to more intrusive IAEA involvement.

“They’ve been exempt for 30 years since they signed a non-proliferation treaty,” said Kelley. “Now they’re going to have to make some serious paperwork and agree to inspections,” if they want to acquire nuclear fuel.

US concerns

Skepticism in the US Congress over whether Saudi Arabia can be a trusted partner has grown since the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year. That’s now manifested itself in critical scrutiny of the Saudi nuclear program — and especially whether the Trump Administration is doing enough to ensure non-proliferation…….

US concerns

Skepticism in the US Congress over whether Saudi Arabia can be a trusted partner has grown since the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year. That’s now manifested itself in critical scrutiny of the Saudi nuclear program — and especially whether the Trump Administration is doing enough to ensure non-proliferation.

Asked whether it was acceptable for Saudi Arabia to become a nuclear power, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was unequivocal in a TV interview on Friday.

“We will not permit that to happen. We will not permit that to happen anywhere in the world,” Pompeo told CBS. “The President understands the threat of proliferation. We will never write a $150 million check to the Saudis and hand them over the capacity to threaten Israel and the United States with nuclear weapons, never.”

A bipartisan resolution introduced in the Senate in February demanded that the use of any US nuclear power technology in Saudi Arabia must be accompanied by safeguards to ensure Saudi Arabia cannot enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel.

“The last thing America should do is inadvertently help develop nuclear weapons for a bad actor on the world stage,” said Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, one of the resolution’s sponsors………

Iran claims that the Trump Administration plans to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear technology without sufficient safeguards. “First a dismembered journalist; now illicit sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia fully expose #USHypocrisy,” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted in February.

And in March, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, accused unnamed regional states of developing “suspicious nuclear projects,” which would force Tehran to revise its defense strategy. Quoted by Iranian news agencies, Shamkhani said such plans would “force us to revise our strategy.”

Whatever Saudi Arabia’s energy strategy, and however sincere its pledge that it has no wish to develop nuclear weapons, the mere existence of a nuclear program is bound to inflame tensions across the Gulf. https://www.clickorlando.com/news/international/saudi-nuclear-program-accelerates-raising-tensions-in-volatile-region

April 8, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia resists IAEA’s inspection regime, as it completes its first nuclear reactor

Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactor nearly finished, sparking fears over safeguards, Riyadh has so far resisted international watchdog’s requests to accept a strict inspection regime, Guardian, Julian Borger in Washington 4 Apr 2019 

Saudi Arabia is within months of completing its first nuclear reactor, new satellite images show, but it has yet to show any readiness to abide by safeguards that would prevent it making a bomb.

The reactor site is in the King Abdulaziz city for science and technology on the outskirts of Riyadh. The site was identified by Robert Kelley, a former director for nuclear inspections at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said it was very small 30-kilowatt research reactor, not far from completion.

“I would guess they could have it all done, with the roof in place and the electricity turned on, within a year,” said Kelley, who worked for more than three decades in research and engineering in the US nuclear weapons complex………

Before inserting nuclear fuel into the reactor, Saudi Arabia would have to implement a comprehensive set of rules and procedures, including IAEA inspections, designed to ensure no fissile material was diverted for use in weapons – something it has so far avoided

The reactor has been designed by an Argentinian state-owned company, Invap SE……..Saudi Arabia joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1988 but signed a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA only in 2005, and at the same time exempted itself from regular inspections, by signing a “small quantities protocol” (SQP), designed for countries with negligible quantities of nuclear material.

Largely because of controversy over Riyadh being shielded from scrutiny under these rules, the IAEA made the SQP more rigorous, but the Saudis resisted making changes…….. https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/04/saudi-arabias-first-nuclear-reactor-nearly-finished-sparking-fears-over-safeguards?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=tru

April 6, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

IAEA head UN nuclear inspector asks Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material

IAEA asks Saudis for safeguards on first nuclear reactor  France 24,  Washington (AFP), 5 Apr 19, The head UN nuclear inspector said Friday that his agency is asking Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material for its first atomic reactor that could arrive by the end of the year.Satellite imagery recently emerged of the project on the outskirts of Riyadh, which comes amid controversy in Washington over what Democrats say is President Donald Trump’s rush to approve nuclear projects with the oil-rich kingdom.

But Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said there was nothing secret about the reactor and that Saudi Arabia informed the Vienna-based UN body about its plans in 2014.

He said the IAEA has encouraged Saudi Arabia to sign a comprehensive safeguards agreement, under which the agency ensures that nuclear material is not being diverted to weapons use……… https://www.france24.com/en/20190405-iaea-asks-saudis-safeguards-first-nuclear-reactor

April 6, 2019 Posted by | safety, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Senators from both parties want details on USA nuclear co-operation with Daudi Arabia

US Senators Seek Details on Nuclear Power Cooperation with Saudi Arabia  VOA News,    https://www.voanews.com/a/us-senators-seek-details-on-nuclear-power-cooperation-with-saudi-arabia-/4859672.html 3 Apr 19, U.S. senators from both parties on Tuesday asked Energy Secretary Rick Perry for details about recent approvals for companies to share nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia, with the lawmakers expressing concern about possible development of atomic weapons.

Saudi Arabia has engaged in “many deeply troubling actions and statements that have provoked alarm in Congress,” Senators Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, told Perry in a letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The senators said Congress was beginning to re-evaluate the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and they believe Washington should not be providing nuclear technology or information to Saudi Arabia now.

The Trump administration has been quietly negotiating a deal that would potentially help Saudi Arabia build two reactors.

Last week news reports revealed that since November 2017, Perry has authorized so-called Part 810 approvals allowing U.S. companies to share sensitive nuclear information with the kingdom. The approvals were kept from the public and from Congress.

The senators asked Perry to provide them by April 10 with the names of the companies that got the 810 approvals, what was in the authorizations, and why the companies asked that the approvals be kept secret. U.S. Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat, also asked the Energy Department in a separate letter what was in the approvals.

While 810 agreements are routine, the Obama administration made them available for the public to read at Energy Department headquarters. Lawmakers say the department is legally required to inform Congress about the approvals.

Perry approved the seven recent authorizations as the administration has tried to hash out nonproliferation standards with Saudi Arabia. Such a pact, known as a 123 agreement, would have to be agreed before U.S. companies can share physical exports of materials and equipment to build reactors.

The kingdom has resisted standards on reprocessing spent fuel and enriching uranium, two potential paths to making nuclear weapons.

The United States has been competing with South Korea, France, Russia and China on a potential deal to help build reactors in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is expected to announce the winner this year.

Lawmakers from both parties have been concerned about Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaigns in Yemen, which is on the brink of famine, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Concern in Congress grew last year after the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

Perry has said the 810 approvals were kept from the public for corporate proprietary reasons……….

At another Senate hearing, the five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, including Chairman Kristine Svinicki, would not say whether the NRC raised any concerns over the 810 approvals in a required consultation with the Energy Department.

Svinicki said the NRC’s consulting role on the approvals is narrow and delegated to staff.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who asked the question of the NRC at the hearing, told Reuters in an interview that the commissioners’ lack of knowledge about the approvals was “stunning.”

“It’s kind of scary because we do rely on them to provide input into this process and not a single commissioner knew anything about what input they may or may not have provided.”  https://www.voanews.com/a/us-senators-seek-details-on-nuclear-power-cooperation-with-saudi-arabia-/4859672.html

April 4, 2019 Posted by | politics, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration and Israel helping Saudi Arabia towards getting nuclear weapons

 

Concerns over Saudi plan to build nuclear plants after US deal | Al Jazeera English

Trump Admin Complementing Israeli Effort to Give Nuclear Weapons to Saudi Arabia   https://www.mintpressnews.com/israel-saudi-arabia-nuclear-weapons-2/256761/  

Already seven of the 10 countries in the world with the highest military budgets are in the Middle East. The development of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia has many speculating that it could mark the beginning of an even more dangerous era for the war-torn region.  March 29th, 2019, By Alan Macleod

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, has secretly approved the sale of nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, Reuters revealed this week. Saudi Arabia is reportedly attempting to construct at least two nuclear power plants as part of its effort to diversify its energy sector and its economy as a whole. As part of this plan it has accepted bids from Russia, South Korea and the U.S. for the lucrative contract. Perry’s approval is known as a Part 810 authorization, which allows energy companies to begin the process of planning and starting preliminary work in anticipation of the closing of a formal deal in the future.

While the Saudi proposals are presented as civilian and do not mention nuclear weaponry, U.S. approval and sale of nuclear technology has been seen by many as a prelude to the development of a Saudi nuclear weapon, which could potentially spark anuclear arms race in the region. Riyadh has long coveted atomic weaponry and has considered developing its own in its quest to maintain military dominance in the region. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States, told the Guardian in 2011, noting that the kingdom may feel “compelled” to pursue the option in the future, if tensions with Iran remain high.

In reality, Iran does not have, nor is it trying to acquire, nuclear weapons technology (something quietly conceded by both the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and the CIA), and has lived up to its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, any such move from Saudi Arabia might provoke a response in kind from Iran, its chief adversary in the region and would sound a death knell for the hopes of the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. The United States has long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons technology and has placed sanctions on the country.

The Israeli connection

An important nuclear player in the region is Israel, one of the few nations in the world that has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Israel is estimated to possess 100 to 200 nuclear weapons and has taken a strongly adversarial position towards Iran. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before a joint session of Congress with a cartoon image of a bomb to give a speech denouncing Iran and warning of an Iranian military threat. Israel has been key in pushing the United States into a more confrontational stance on Iran through a continuous public-relations drive to present the country as a menace.

Last year Mint Press News reported that the Israeli government had begun selling Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons secrets. Ami Dor-on, a senior official and nuclear specialist at the organization Israel’s Homeland Security, blew the whistle on the clandestine practice. The Israeli actions were the latest evidence of a growing cooperation between the two nations. However, the prospect of a nuclear Saudi Arabia has many concerned.

The threat of a nuclear Saudi Arabia

For some time, Saudi Arabia has been making its presence felt in the Middle East, leading to the destabilization of the entire region. In 2011 Saudi tanks rolled into Bahrain to crush the Arab Spring uprising in the island country, and it continues to be a primary driver of the war in Yemen, labeled by some as genocide. At least 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the Saudi bombardment of the country.

Riyadh also continues to fund various jihadist groups in Syria and is one of the largest financiers of terrorism in the world. Before his election, Trump claimed Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks and the White House more recently insisted it would hold the kingdom responsible for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. However, as with unabated American support for the Saudi war in Yemen, these proclamations have fallen short.

The Saudi armed services are already a formidable force. Saudi Arabia spends the third most of any country in the world on the military, behind only the U.S. and China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The Saudi military’s size is estimated at nearly a quarter-million active personnel, who are equipped with the most advanced weapons available.

Already seven of the 10 countries in the world with the highest military burden are in the Middle East. The development of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia has many speculating that it could mark the beginning of an even more dangerous era for the war-torn region.

Top Photo | U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for Israe from Saudi Arabial, the next stop in his international tour, at King Khalid International Airport, Monday, May 22, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Alan MacLeod is an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

March 30, 2019 Posted by | Israel, politics international, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, approved 6 secret nuclear technology companies’ sales to Saudi Arabia

March 30, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA Government Accountability Office to probe Saudi nuclear power talks

Congressional watchdog to probe Saudi nuclear power talks
Investigation will examine Trump administration’s plans to share technology with kingdom, Ft.com   and  in Washington.

A congressional watchdog has agreed to investigate the Trump administration’s discussions about sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the matter. The Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan agency that conducts investigations on behalf of Congress, is in talks with lawmakers over the scope of a probe into the nuclear power talks that the Trump administration has held with Saudi Arabia. One person familiar with the discussions between the GAO and lawmakers said they were in their “initial phase”. In February, lawmakers accused White House officials of pushing a plan to sell US nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia in potential defiance of legal restrictions. A report prepared for the oversight committee of the Democratic-led House of Representatives said Trump aides were attempting “to rush the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia”, which may have violated the Atomic Energy Act.

The US and Saudi Arabia do not have a nuclear co-operation agreement under section 123 of the act — which governs civil nuclear agreements — but the two countries have been in the process of negotiating one since 2012. The GAO is responding to a recent request from Marco Rubio, a senior Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the panel. In making their request, Mr Rubio and Mr Menendez said they were concerned about reports that the administration had been negotiating a nuclear co-operation deal — a so-called 123 agreement — with Riyadh without keeping Congress apprised of the situation. The two senators added that they were “especially concerned that negotiations or discussions of nuclear co-operation are happening in a very opaque manner”.
According to the state department, it is the lead negotiator for all international civil nuclear co-operation agreements. Under section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, any talks are to be led by the secretary of state and with “technical assistance” from the energy secretary. Senators Menendez and Rubio said they believed the energy department was leading the negotiations with Saudi, however, adding that they were “concerned” the inter-agency process was not being followed……https://www.ft.com/content/a43577c0-5003-11e9-b401-8d9ef1626294

March 27, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s endeavour to nuclearise Saudi Arabia is driven by family business interests and tacitly approved by Israel. Aljazeera, by Hamid Dabashi, 8 Mar 2019  Like chronic indigestion that refuses to go away, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner is back causing much discomfort to the general public.

“Kushner meets Saudi’s MBS for the first time since Khashoggi murder,” Al Jazeera recently reported, “The meeting focused on ‘increasing cooperation’ between Washington and Riyadh, as well as the Middle East peace process.”

But there might be more on their plate than just another bogus “peace process”.

Kushner has two paramount concerns while sitting comfortably in the big pocket of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS): pursuing his own personal financial gains and helping Israel steal what is left of Palestine. MBS also has two objectives while playing with Kushner, like a shiny marble in his pocket:  To confront Iran and to establish himself as a ruling tyrant not just in Saudi Arabia but throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

The slaughter of innocent men, women and children in Yemen and the butchery of Jamal Khashoggi are the first flowers of his dream of a Saudi Spring. But in his pursuit of power and glory through murder and destruction, MBS does not seem to be satisfied with using only conventional means. It appears that he is now harbouring a great desire to go nuclear and the Trump administration is more than willing to oblige.

As the New York Times recently revealed, the Trump administration has been pursuing a deal with Saudi Arabia to develop its nuclear energy sector. “By ramming through the sale of as much as $80 billion in nuclear power plants, the Trump administration would provide sensitive know-how and materials to a government whose de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has suggested that he may eventually want a nuclear weapon as a hedge against Iran and has shown little concern for what the rest of the world thinks,” the newspaper claimed.

At the forefront of these efforts, of course, are Kushner and his business interests. It turns out a company that bailed out his family after an ill-conceived real estate deal in New York brought them close to bankruptcy now intends to sell nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia.

That, along with other shenanigans, has gotten the US security establishment worried. Their attempts to cancel his security clearance, however, have been repeatedly overridden by his father-in-law.

Hence, Kushner remains undeterred in his pursuit to nuclearise Saudi Arabia.

In exposing this worrying reality, the US media, however, has made two very wrong assumptions: one, that a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia somehow contradicts the interests of the Israeli leadership; two, that it is the result of some kind of a Gulf-money entrapment.

……. Given that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law has been the principal driving force behind a “peace plan” that aims to strip Palestinians of all their legitimate rights and legalise the Israeli occupation, it is hard to believe that he is now pursuing a policy that contradicts Israeli interests.  …….

The reason why a Saudi nuclear programme is in the interest of the Israeli settler colony is very simple: It would fuel Saudi-Iranian rivalry, keeping them in a permanent state of war in the shadow of nuclear proliferation, which is good for Zionism, and of course, for the Israeli arms industry. It would keep the populations of both countries preoccupied with the imagined Sunni-Shia conflict and make them increasingly oblivious to the plight of the Palestinian people and the desecration of the holy sites in Jerusalem. …….. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/making-nuclear-mbs-190307135114759.html

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

International Atomic Agency would require Saudi Arabia to have the same nuclear safeguards as Iran has

Before Saudi Arabia Goes Nuclear, It May Have to Follow Iran’s Lead, Bloomberg, By Jonathan Tirone March 7, 2019,  

  • Kingdom has yet to clinch enhanced atomic monitoring deal
  • World powers are meeting with Iran on Wednesday in Vienna.

“………Focus on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program has risen in the last month after the U.S. Congress opened an investigation into the potentially illegal transfer of sensitive technologies to the kingdom. This week the International Atomic Energy Agency, responsible for verifying that countries don’t divert material for weapons, weighed in on what its inspectors need before the kingdom can start generating nuclear power.  

Focus on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program has risen in the last month after the U.S. Congress opened an investigation into the potentially illegal transfer of sensitive technologies to the kingdom. This week the International Atomic Energy Agency, responsible for verifying that countries don’t divert material for weapons, weighed in on what its inspectors need before the kingdom can start generating nuclear power.  

Riyadh’s nuclear program is developing “based on an old text” of safeguard rules, even as it expects to complete its first research reactor this year and plans to tap uraniumreserves, according to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, who told journalists this week in Vienna that he’s “appealing to all countries to rescind” those old ways of doing business. 

We’re encouraging all countries to conclude and implement an additional protocol and that includes Saudi Arabia,” said Amano, who’s also in charge of enforcing the 2015 nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers. The Japanese career diplomat has called the set of rules established by that accord, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in May, as “the most rigorous monitoring mechanism ever negotiated.”……

 the IAEA comments could strike a precautionary note among vendors lining up to service the kingdom’s nuclear ambitions. Receiving the imprimatur of IAEA inspectors, who account for gram-level quantities of nuclear material worldwide, is a precondition for receiving technologies and fuel. Without reaching a new understanding with monitors, Saudi plans for 3.2 gigawatts of atomic power by the end next decade could flounder. …….

Maintaining that level of IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear program is the reason that China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K. continue to defy U.S. calls to abandon the 2015 deal and reimpose sanctions. Diplomats from those countries convened Wednesday in Vienna in their first meeting since the European Union established a trade channel to skirt U.S. threats.  

Snap Inspections in Iran

IAEA complementary access to sites rose under agreement with world powers……https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-06/before-saudi-goes-nuclear-it-may-have-to-follow-iran-s-lead

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Despite U.S. Congress’s concerns, Trump is still pushing for sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

Team Trump Keeps Pushing Deal to Send Nuclear Tech to Saudis

Congress raised ‘grave concerns’ about the Trump administration’s past attempts to send nuclear technology to the Saudis. But Team Trump isn’t done trying. The Daily Beast, Erin Banco, Betsy Woodruff 03.04.19   The Trump administration is still actively working to make a deal to send U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to two U.S. officials and two professional staffers at federal agencies with direct knowledge of those conversations. American energy businesses are still hoping to cash in on Riyadh’s push for energy diversification,

March 5, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, helping Saudi Crown Prince towards getting nuclear weapons?

Jared and the Saudi Crown Prince Go Nuclear? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/02/opinion/sunday/saudi-arabia-jared-kushner-nuclear.html

There are too many unanswered questions about the White House’s role in advancing Saudi ambitions. By Nicholas Kristof, March 2, 2019

Jared Kushner slipped quietly into Saudi Arabia this week for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, so the question I’m trying to get the White House to answer is this: Did they discuss American help for a Saudi nuclear program?

Of all the harebrained and unscrupulous dealings of the Trump administration in the last two years, one of the most shocking is a Trump plan to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Even as President Trump is trying to denuclearize North Korea and Iran, he may be helping to nuclearize Saudi Arabia. This is abominable policy tainted by a gargantuan conflict of interest involving Kushner.

Kushner’s family real estate business had been teetering because of a disastrously overpriced acquisition he made of a particular Manhattan property called 666 Fifth Avenue, but last August a company called Brookfield Asset Management rescued the Kushners by taking a 99-year lease of the troubled property — and paying the whole sum of about $1.1 billion up front.

Alarm bells should go off: Brookfield also owns Westinghouse Electric, the nuclear services business trying to sell reactors to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi swamp, meet American swamp.

It may be conflicts like these, along with even murkier ones, that led American intelligence officials to refuse a top-secret security clearance for Kushner. The Times reported Thursday that Trump overruled them to grant Kushner the clearance.

This nuclear reactor mess began around the time of Trump’s election, when a group of retired U.S. national security officials put together a plan to enrich themselves by selling nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. The officials included Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, and they initially developed a “plan for 40 nuclear power plants” in Saudi Arabia, according to a report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The plan is now to start with just a couple of plants.

As recently as Feb. 12, Trump met in the White House with backers of the project and was supportive, Reuters reported.

These are civilian nuclear power plants, and Saudi Arabia claims it wants them for electricity. But the Saudis insist on producing their own nuclear fuel, rather than buying it more cheaply abroad. Producing fuel is a standard way for rogue countries to divert fuel for secret nuclear weapons programs, and the Saudi resistance to safeguards against proliferation bolsters suspicions that the real goal is warheads.

Trump may be vigilant (destructively so) about Iran’s nuclear plants, but in the Saudi case his response seems to be: There’s money to be made! When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised objections to the transfer last year, Axios reported, “Trump and his advisers told Netanyahu that, if the U.S. does not sell the Saudis nuclear reactors, other countries like Russia or France will.”

Trump seems to believe that the Saudis have us over a barrel: If we don’t help them with nuclear technology, someone else will. That misunderstands the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The Saudis depend on us for their security, and the blunt truth is that we hold all the cards in this relationship, not them.

Why on earth would America put Prince Mohammed on a path to acquiring nuclear weapons? He is already arguably the most destabilizing leader in an unstable region, for he has invaded Yemen, kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister, started a feud with Qatar, and, according to American intelligence officials, ordered the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The prince has also imprisoned and brutally tortured women’s rights activists, including one who I’m hoping will win the Nobel Peace Prize, Loujain al-Hathloul. As Representative Brad Sherman, a California Democrat, has noted, “A country that can’t be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

There’s another element of Trump’s Saudi policy that is simply repulsive: the fawning courtship of a foreign prince who has created in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, murdered a journalist and tortured women’s rights activists. The White House genuflections are such that Prince Mohammed had a point when, according to The Intercept, he bragged that he had Kushner in his “pocket.”

No one knows whether Prince Muhammed will manage to succeed his father and become the next king, for there is opposition and the Saudi economic transformation he boasts of is running into difficulties. Trump and Kushner seem to be irresponsibly trying to boost the prince’s prospects, increasing the risk that an unstable hothead will mismanage the kingdom for the next 50 years. Perhaps with nuclear weapons.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA officials worried about Saudi Arabia’s nuclear plans

Middle East Monitor 2nd March 2019 , Doubts have been raised about Saudi Arabia’s plans for its nuclear
capabilities, which it maintains are for peaceful purposes, to meet its
population’s energy needs. However a US body charged with looking in to
Saudi’s nuclear plans has warned that “many whistleblowers have warned
against conflicts of interest that could fall within the scope of the
Federal Criminal Law.” The Committee on Oversight and Reform issued the
warning after President Donald Trump announced he intended to sell
“sensitive nuclear technology” to Saudi Arabia to benefit US companies.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190302-us-officials-question-saudis-nuclear-plans/

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment