On six separate occasions, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry authorized U.S. companies to sell technology to Saudi Arabia that would help the country develop nuclear power plants.
According to documents reviewed by Reuters, the Trump Administration obliged the companies’ requests to keep the deals confidential, as similar Department of Energy authorizations have been made public in the past — suggesting that energy companies and White House officials are amenable to controversial nuclear deals if they don’t run the risk of public backlash.
Saudi Arabia has previously announced plans to construct two nuclear power plants, and is currently vetting Russian, South Korean, and American proposals for contracts, Reuters reports.
Perry’s authorizations permit countries to perform preliminary work on nuclear plants, but forbid them from selling or constructing anything that would actually go into the plant itself, an anonymous source familiar with the discussion told Reuters.
Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that he would pursue nuclear weaponry if Iran did. The country has also pushed back against attempted nuclear regulations, according to Reuters.
While these secretive deals don’t mean that a nuclear standoff is on its way, some members of Congress are now calling for increased scrutiny over any future partnerships. During a hearing on Wednesday, Representative Brad Sherman called for the names of the companies that dealt with Saudi Arabia, arguing that the Trump Administration was deliberately trying to skirt congressional oversight.
READ MORE: U.S. approved secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia [Reuters]
More on Saudi Arabia: A Dangerous Cyberattack On A Petrochemical Plant Could Be The First Of Many