Op-ed: Congress must push for a ‘Gold Standard’ nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia

Research Analyst Sam Hickey writes in The Hill that Congress must push for a 123 “gold standard” nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia.

After months of Members of Congress issuing troubling reports, holding hearings and writing letters, there is finally some good news on U.S. policy regarding a Saudi civil nuclear energy program. The Trump administration appears to be taking a strong non-proliferation stance toward nuclear cooperation with the kingdom.

Dated Sept. 4, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry sent a letter to Saudi Arabia calling for a “gold standard” 123 Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the Saudis that would, “contain a commitment by the kingdom to forgo any enrichment and reprocessing for the term of the agreement.”

A 123 Agreement refers to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and it includes nine nonproliferation criteria such as “nothing transferred is used for any nuclear explosive device.” The “gold standard” is an additional “legally binding obligation” to foreswear enrichment and reprocessing technology. The addition of such a standard is critical because these technologies are dual-use, meaning the components of a Saudi civil nuclear program can also be used to build a Saudi nuclear weapons program. Read more