The Department of Energy approved two authorizations for U.S. companies seeking to conduct nuclear-related work in Saudi Arabia following the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, according to a release by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Tuesday.
The first of those two approvals occurred on Oct. 18, 2018, just 16 days after Khashoggi’s murder. The second approval occurred on Feb. 18, 2019, according to Kaine.
The Daily Beast was first to report that the U.S. had approved six authorizations for U.S. companies seeking, in one way or another, to conduct business in the country as it tried to ramp up its nuclear program. Tuesday’s release shows that two of those came after Khashoggi’s murder during a time when the Trump administration was dodging questions from Congress about its ongoing investigation into the matter.
“The alarming realization that the Trump Administration signed off on sharing our nuclear know-how with the Saudi regime after it brutally murdered an American resident adds to a disturbing pattern of behavior,” Kaine said. “President Trump’s eagerness to give the Saudis anything they want, over bipartisan Congressional objection, harms American national security interests and is one of many steps the Administration is taking that is fueling a dangerous escalation of tension in the region.”
Federal law stipulates that companies obtain clearance from the U.S. government for exporting nuclear technology to or engaging in the production or development of special nuclear material in Saudi Arabia.
The authorizations—known as Part 810s, referring to a clause in federal regulations—allow U.S. companies to divulge specific details about plans for working in Saudi Arabia and certain information about the nuclear technology. For example, a company would need a Part 810 to transfer physical documents, electronic media, or the “transfer of knowledge and expertise” to Saudi Arabia, according to the Department of Energy.
When The Daily Beast first reported about the 810s, DOE did not release the names of the companies that were granted the authorizations, saying that those companies had requested to keep them from public view because the documents contained proprietary information.
However, the 810s have in fact been handed over to various congressional offices, according to two individuals with knowledge of communications between DOE and Capitol Hill.