US President Donald Trump places his hands on a glowing orb as he tours with other leaders the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Picture: SAUDI TV VIA REUTERS
US President Donald Trump places his hands on a glowing orb as he tours with other leaders the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Picture: SAUDI TV VIA REUTERS

Washington — Negotiations between the US and Saudi Arabia for a deal that could allow American companies to build nuclear reactors in the kingdom should be suspended following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, five Senate Republicans have told the Trump administration.

The nuclear technology sharing agreement, which could benefit companies including Westinghouse Electric, was already facing blowback in US congress amid reports the deal wouldn’t prohibit the Saudis from enriching nuclear fuel into weapons-grade materials.

“The ongoing revelations about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as certain Saudi actions related to Yemen and Lebanon, have raised further serious concerns about the transparency, accountability, and judgment of current decision-makers in Saudi Arabia,” said the letter.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Todd Young of Indiana, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Dean Heller of Nevada signed the letter.

The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi government, has already prompted dozens of finance and business leaders to distance themselves from the Kingdom and placed the country’s crown prince under political strain.

The Trump administration is in negotiations with the Saudi government as it seeks to build as many as 16 new reactors in the kingdom, a move that could extend a lifeline to US companies Westinghouse and Exelon, hit by a domestic downturn in nuclear power plant construction.

With Jennifer A Dlouhy

Bloomberg 

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