alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

Will Trump Help Saudi Arabia Become a Nuclear Power?

The House of Saud is angling for approval on a new nuclear power program, and Donald Trump just might grant it.

According to The Young Turks' Ken Klippenstein, King & Spalding, a law firm that has previously represented the president in his real estate dealings, registered last month to lobby the White House on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Justice Department filings reveal the firm will receive $450,000 over a 30-day period to start, and talks are set to begin in a matter of weeks.

King & Spalding's ties to the Trump administration are numerous. Beyond the link to the president, FBI director Christopher Wray served as a litigator at the firm from 2005-2017. As Klippenstein notes, the appointment drew the ire of the ACLU's political director Faiz Shakir, who said in a statement at the time that, “Christopher Wray’s firm’s legal work for the Trump family, his history of partisan activity, as well as his history of defending Trump’s transition director during a criminal scandal makes us question his ability to lead the FBI."

If the law firm succeeds in its lobbying efforts, it could set off a bomb in the Middle East, perhaps literally. That's because Saudi Arabia has refused to sign an agreement prohibiting the enrichment of uranium—a direct violation of Section 123 of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy. While the Saudis maintain the program would be for strictly civilian purposes, critics fear an ulterior motive. 

“It’s tempting to waive the gold standard for Saudi Arabia to secure a deal that could invigorate a struggling U.S. nuclear industry, but we cannot look at this situation purely as a business transaction," nuclear security expert Lovely Umayam tells The Young Turks. "If the Trump administration decides to omit the gold standard for the Saudis, I suspect that Iran will adversely react to seeing an arch-rival keep open the possibility of ‘nuclear hedging.’ Pitting Iran and Saudi Arabia against each other in terms of their nuclear capabilities could be a backward step for nonproliferation efforts in the region. Also, this could set a precedent for future 123 agreement negotiations, signaling to other countries that the United States would be willing to dilute its stance on nonproliferation if money is involved.” 

Read Klippenstein's report at The Young Turks.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.