Speed Reads

going nuclear

The Trump administration reportedly might allow Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium in nuclear deal

Energy Secretary Rick Perry scrapped a trip to India this week to prepare for a meeting with Saudi officials in London to pave the way for 16 U.S.-built nuclear power reactors in Saudi Arabia, two people familiar with the plans tell Bloomberg News. Perry dropped his trip to New Delhi to accommodate White House meetings to prepare for the inter-agency London meeting with Saudi energy minister Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, which Bloomberg calls "a critical step in months of ongoing discussions over a potential nuclear cooperation agreement." The Trump administration is reportedly considering waiving restrictions to allow Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium.

Westinghouse Electric and other U.S. companies want to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, but U.S. nuclear nonproliferation rules prohibiting uranium enrichment in some countries scuttled any deals while Barack Obama was president, Bloomberg reports. The talks in London could help pave the way for such deals, worth at least $80 billion over 20 to 25 years, according to the World Nuclear Association. The Energy Department confirmed that Perry canceled his India trip but would not answer any of Bloomberg's questions about London.

It's not clear if the Trump administration's push for nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia is part of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's reported push to get White House approval for Middle Eastern nuclear power plants during his short tenure in the Trump administration. Flynn was connected to two companies promoting the plan, IP3 and ACU Strategic Partners, while advising candidate Trump and during the presidential transition.