Saudi Arabia has almost finished building its first nuclear reactor, according to Bloomberg’s assessment of the first satellite images of the facility, which were published on Google Earth.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that satellite photos show a containment vessel for atomic fuel at the reactor site in Riyadh. The report notes the “ advancement is alarming to arms-control experts because Saudi Arabia has yet to sign up to the international framework of rules other nuclear powers follow to ensure that civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons.”
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 reevaluate 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.