Skip to main content

US senators call on Trump to suspend nuclear agreement talks with Riyadh

Jamal Khashoggi's murder raises questions about 'transparency, accountability and judgment' of Saudi leaders, US senators say
US has been under mounting pressure to cut ties with Riyadh over journalist's slaying (AFP)

Five Republican US senators have called on President Donald Trump to suspend talks to reach a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia over the recent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a letter sent to the president on Wednesday, the politicians said they have been concerned by Riyadh’s ongoing refusal to adopt policies and technologies that limit the enrichment of uranium and reprocess plutonium, among other nuclear fuel-making activities.

The killing of Khashoggi, a prominent Washington Post columnist, on 2 October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul raises even more questions about the current thinking of Saudi decision-makers, they said.

“The ongoing revelations about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as certain Saudi actions related to Yemen and Lebanon, have raised further serious concerns about the transparency, accountability and judgment of current decision-makers in Saudi Arabia,” the letter reads.

The letter was signed by five Republican senators, including Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, who have been vocal in their criticism of Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder.

Four of the senators - Rubio, Paul, Cory Gardner and Todd Young - are on the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which writes legislation related to foreign policy.

The senators said they would block “any agreement at this time” in light of their concerns.

EXCLUSIVE: Senior Saudi prince flies home to tackle MBS succession
Read More »

Trump has been under increasing pressure to hold Saudi Arabia - and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in particular - accountable for the death of Khashoggi.

Asked on Wednesday if he believed the Saudis had betrayed him in relation to the Khashoggi case, Trump responded: "They haven't betrayed me ... maybe they have betrayed themselves".

"We'll have to see how it all turns out," the president said.

A Saudi insider-turned-critic, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.

After weeks of denials and changing accounts of what happened, Saudi officials recently admitted that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated.

Critics have demanded that Saudi Arabia reveal the full truth, saying that even its latest version of events lacks credibility.

The journalist’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, recently called on the Saudis to release Khashoggi’s body and demanded that a "real investigation" be launched.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.