US Senate introduces bill to disclose nuclear information sharing

Jack Unwin 11 April 2019 (Last Updated April 12th, 2019 06:30)

US Senators have introduced legislation that directs the executive branch to disclose which companies it allows to share nuclear information with countries looking to build nuclear reactors.

US Senate introduces bill to disclose nuclear information sharing
Four US Senators introduce legislation to ensure the executive branch discloses who it shares nuclear information with. Credit: US Bureau of Land Management.

US Senators have introduced legislation that directs the executive branch to disclose which companies it allows to share nuclear information with countries looking to build nuclear reactors. The bill was introduced by Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Todd Young with Democrats Tim Kaine and Edward Markey.

The bill was created in response to the Trump administration issuing Part 810 authorisations for companies to share nuclear information with Saudi Arabia without informing Congress, something previous administrations would typically share through the Department of Energy. The key concern for the Senators is to ensure safeguards on a potential Saudi nuclear programme to avoid a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

If passed, the bill would amend the 1954 Atomic Energy Act and force the Department of Energy to hand over all 810 applications it receives to the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees.

Senator Rubio told Reuters: “Congress cannot play its oversight role and ensure US civil nuclear cooperation efforts do not encourage the spread of nuclear weapons-making capabilities when presidential administrations withhold information from lawmakers.”

Senator Kaine tweeted: “Today we introduced legislation to require Congressional review of nuclear information transfers. There should NOT be secret deals that send nuclear know-how to countries that potentially aspire to develop nuclear bombs.”

In February a House of Representatives report alleged that the Trump administration was looking to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia without the consent of Congress, which would be illegal under the Atomic Energy Act.