Donald Trump's administration approved the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to the government of Saudi Arabia on two separate occasions after Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, an NBC News report finds, citing "information shared with members of Congress."
The first of these approvals happened about two weeks after agents of the Saudi government killed Khashoggi in Istanbul, in October of 2018. The second nuclear technology approval happened on February 18, 2019.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) represents the district where Khashoggi lived as a U.S. legal resident, and from which he sometimes contributed to the Washington Post.
Kaine says these nuclear technology transfer approvals are part of a "disturbing pattern of behavior" by the Trump administration toward Saudi Arabia, among other autocratic regimes.
Citing records provided by the Department of Energy, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said Tuesday that the Trump administration had given the green light to U.S. energy firms to export technology and know-how to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 18, 2018 — just 16 days after Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The administration then approved another transfer on Feb. 18 this year.
Congressional staffers from both parties told NBC News Kaine's account was accurate. The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Kaine is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which had requested details on seven transfers of nuclear expertise to Saudi Arabia, including the timing of the approvals in each case.
"It has taken the Trump Administration more than two months to answer a simple question — when did you approve transfers of nuclear expertise from American companies to Saudi Arabia? And the answer is shocking," Kaine said in a statement.
PHOTO from the Official White House Flickr account, public domain, 2017
President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during their meeting Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)