By Javad Heirannia

Kushner is behind sending sensitive U.S. nuclear tech to Saudi: Askari

February 24, 2019

TEHRAN – Professor Hossein Askari, an expert on Saudi Arabia who also teaches international business at the George Washington University, believes that the origin of the initiative of the sending sensitive U.S. nuclear technology “was General Flynn, the disgraced first National Security Advisor to Donald Trump. But now I think that MBS has followed up on this with Jared Kushner.” 

“ So today, I believe the main advocate for this are Kushner, U.S. nuclear power plant builders, such as Westinghouse and General Electric, and possibly Donald Trump’s sons,” Hossein Askari, who served as special advisor to Saudi finance minister, tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: Top Trump administration officials advocated a plan to build dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia despite warnings that the move could pose ethical concerns and violate federal law, according to a report released by House Democrats. Which group in U.S. has been trying to sell this sensitive technology to Saudi Arabia?

A: I think that the origin of this initiative was General Flynn, the disgraced first National Security Advisor to Donald Trump. But now I think that MBS has followed up on this with Jared Kushner.  So today, I believe the main advocate for this are Kushner, U.S. nuclear power plant builders, such as Westinghouse and General Electric, and possibly Donald Trump’s sons. This is all about money. It is that simple.

Q: Democrats raise concerns that the Trump administration support for this effort would allow the Saudi regime access to "sensitive U.S. nuclear technology" that could in turn "allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East." What is your opinion?

A: Yes, this would allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons. But there is more. This is not Saudi Arabia’s best option. I believe that Saudi Arabia could buy two or so nuclear warheads from Pakistan. There is a history between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. After the Mecca takeover, Saudi Arabia a dialed for Pakistani soldiers to evict the radicals who had taken over the Grand Mosque. More recently in Bahrain, Pakistan was again there. Most important, Pakistan is facing serious economic problems. The Prime Minister, Imran Khan, would do anything for $10 billion! Also note the recent trip of MBS to Pakistan. Finally, remember that Saudi Arabia has Chinese missiles, which they initially bought without U.S. knowledge, missiles whose main purpose is to carry nuclear warheads. So which is the easiest and fastest route to become a nuclear power?

Q: Do you think Trump administration will allow Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium by itself?

A: I think those around Trump would love to do it because of the money that they would reap. But I believe the U.S. Congress will block it. Moreover, I think that Netanyahu will come to his senses and re-examine his love affair with MBS. If MBS has nuclear warheads, Israel will be threatened as never before. So I think that Israel would also realize the shortsightedness of Netanyahu’s romance with MBS and make sure that Trump and the U.S. congress does not allow this transfer of technology to an irrational young man. But again note, Pakistan is a different story!

Q: The report alleges those involved in the planning were aiming to enrich themselves and possibly in violation of the Atomic Energy Act, a federal law that lays out the preconditions of any nuclear deals with another nation and requires prior Congressional approval. What will be the result of the confrontation of the congress and President Trump administration in this case?

A: Congress will win this fight. There is no doubt in my mind. I think that even the Republicans would go against Trump. The brutal murder of Khashoggi is still on everybody’s mind. MBS has lost a great deal of support in the U.S. Congress. He is seen as a pariah.

Q: In May 2018, Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump logic for the withdrawal was Nuclear Non-Proliferation. But the transferring "sensitive U.S. nuclear technology" could in turn "allow Saudi Arabia to produce nuclear weapons that contribute to the proliferation of nuclear arms throughout an already unstable Middle East." How can explain this contradiction?

A: President Trump, Kushner and the older Trump sons are not known for their consistency. They seem to do anything for money and political advantage. So please don’t look for consistency. It is not there. But the reality is that Iran is very unpopular in the U.S. and with U.S. lawmakers. So any action that is against Iran is generally welcomed. But I am almost sure that the U.S. will not allow this transfer. Trump will not win on this.

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