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Washington-Riyadh Nuclear Talks Continue, Ball in 'Saudis’ Court' - US Official

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarUS and Saudi flags flutter on a main road in the Saudi capital Riyadh (File)
US and Saudi flags flutter on a main road in the Saudi capital Riyadh (File) - Sputnik International
HOUSTON (Sputnik) - The discussions between the United States and Saudi Arabia on a nuclear agreement continue, however, the ball is currently in Riyadh’s court, US Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette told reporters.

"Conversations are still ongoing. There haven’t been any new developments since Secretary Perry’s last meeting with Minister [Khalid] al-Falih, they continue the conversation. The ball is really in the Saudis’ court right now", Brouillette said on Thursday. "We are waiting on the Saudis to get back to us.

Riyadh, which is seeking to expand its energy portfolio, has been in talks with Washington over a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement that would allow Saudi Arabia to pursue its civilian nuclear projects. However, after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, numerous US lawmakers have called on President Donald Trump to halt discussions with Saudi Arabia on a bilateral civil nuclear agreement.

READ MORE: CNN Claims Saudis Transferred US-Made Arms to al-Qaeda-Linked Fighters in Yemen

Meanwhile, Democrats from the US House Oversight Committee have launched an investigation into a plan by the Trump administration to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia despite warnings from national security officials.

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings released in February an interim report on the matter after several whistleblowers came forward to warn about White House efforts "rush the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia" in what could be a violation of the US Atomic Energy Act.

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"Based on this [report’s] snapshot of events, the Committee is now launching an investigation to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump administration are in the national security interests of the United States, or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in US foreign policy", the report said.

The proposal began as a bid to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis under the direction of Trump adviser and fundraiser Tom Barrack, and was backed by former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the report said.

READ MORE: Pompeo: US Should Give Saudis 'A Few More Days' to Investigate Journo Vanishing

The report charged that proponents continued to push the plan after Flynn was fired in February 2017, even though career national security officials warned of potential legal and ethical issues. The report said the whistleblowers warned that the Trump administration's efforts to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia could be ongoing.

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