Via America’s Lawyer: RT Correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to discuss the Trump administration’s deal to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia which raises concerns in Congress.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology assistance to Saudi Arabia. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins me now with the story. Brigida, before we go into too much detail, give me an idea of what the story’s about.

Brigida Santos:                   Perry has approved at least six Part 810 authorizations, which allow American companies to start working on nuclear power technology that can be transferred to a foreign government. Now in this case, it would be transferred in, hopefully in their case, to Saudi Arabia. And that’s because the kingdom is currently reviewing competing bids from companies in the United States, in Russia and South Korea as Saudi Arabia gears up to build two nuclear power plants.

Now, Saudi Arabia says that it’s not going to announce the winner of these contracts until later this year. So until then, these authorized US companies are going to be working merely to convince the Saudis to choose American products like nuclear reactors and other services over those of their competitors.

However, the authorizations have come under scrutiny because they were carried out in secret. Now, Perry claims secrecy is necessary to protect the company’s proprietary information, but normally nuclear authorizations are disclosed to the public at the time of taping that has yet to happen.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, well first of all, let, let’s go back and talk about this guy a little bit, this Rick Perry. This guy is not exactly, you know, the sharpest tool in the shed. This is the guy, if you remember, he, he, he couldn’t name three agencies that he said he wanted to abolish. He wanted to abolish three agencies. They asked him, well, what are the agencies? He couldn’t even name the agencies that he wanted to abolish.

He thought the voting age in the United States was 21. He called social security a ponzi scheme. So I guess what I’m getting at here Brigida this is the guy who wants to sell nuclear technology to the Saudi Arabia, to Saudi Arabia. Technology that has never been disclosed to them. They don’t need it for power. They’ve got all the power they need. They’ve got oil, they’ve got deserts for wind power. They’ve got solar power.

It’s not about power. They want to build arms, they want to build weapons. And so this genius says, yeah, this is a guy we’re allowing to make a decision like this. What’s the reaction to buy US lawmakers about this character making decisions like this? What’s their reaction?

Brigida Santos:                   Lawmakers on both side of the isle are worried that if the US wins this bid, Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons and spawn a nuclear arms race in the Middle East unless proper safeguards are implemented. And that’s because Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has previously said that his country will develop nuclear weapons if its rival Iran does. And now that the Trump administration has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, MBS’ stated plan is not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Now, of course, the Iranians have not, according to reports, violated terms of the agreement, even though it’s been tossed out. So it’s also unclear whether the kingdom is even going to agree to American anti proliferation standards or whether the US is even going to impose them this time around. Now in the past, negotiations broke down because Saudi Arabia would not commit to rules that would ban uranium enrichment and other pathways to making fissile material for nuclear weapons.

So if the US does not impose safeguards on Saudi Arabia, it could result in all out proliferation across the entire Middle East because no other country would be incentivized to follow those rules if Saudi Arabia isn’t.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, you know, what’s this notion that they can’t build what they want? We give them the technology, they’re going to build it, they’re going to sell it to their pals in the Middle East and we are going to have a very, very scary arms race there in the Middle East. And again, I come back to Rick Perry. This guy is an absolute goof. I mean, he would, he was a goof when he was running for president.

He’s been a goof since he, since he was knocked out of the primaries and we’re making, we’re allowing him to make decisions without stepping in and say, no, we’re not going to sell the Saudis this technology. The other part of it, it was what you raised. When have we ever been able to really influence what the Saudis want to do? It’s the, it’s the worst dictatorship on the planet almost. And so this dictatorship when we’ve said, hey, can you work with us on oil prices?

No, we can’t. Can you work with us as far as getting along with this country or that country? No, we can’t. So all of a sudden they now have nuclear weapons and we’re supposed to say we’re going to be able to negotiate with them? Here’s, look, let me ask you this. Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat is asking secretary of State Mark, Mike Pompeo to release the names of the companies that got the approvals by the middle of April. He is very good question. Very important information we should have. We need to know who’s tied up to who, who’s making money on this deal. How likely is it that we’re going to get that information Brigida?

Brigida Santos:                   It’s extremely unlikely, especially since the companies are still in competition against those firms in Russia, China and South Korea. But it’s not just Democrats, I want to mention that are concerned, as I said, Republican senators that are also worried about US Saudi negotiations. And in fact, Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez have called on the Government Accountability Office to review the Trump administration’s nuclear power negotiations with the kingdom over reports alleging that some are conducted without federal oversight that’s required by the Atomic Energy Act.

The House Oversight Committee has now opened a formal investigation into the plan, which involves a group known as IP3. The congressmen also noted that the Department of Energy is leading these so-called 123 nuclear negotiate cooperation agreements rather than State Department, which is very unusual and inconsistent with previous nuclear agreement negotiations. And that’s where Perry comes in because he, you know, he’s always been a big energy guy, oil in Texas. So it’s all very questionable.

Mike Papantonio:             Brigida, the very idea of Rick Perry having anything to do with nuclear energy, on its face is terrifying. Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.