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Plan to Sell Nuclear Plants to Saudis Under New Scrutiny

Michael Flynn pushed proposal over the objections of ethics and security advisers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 19, 2019 1:09 PM CST
In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a new congressional report citing whistleblowers within the administration. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the US technology were transferred without proper safeguards, per the AP. The Democratic-led House oversight committee opened an investigation Tuesday into the claims by several unnamed whistleblowers who said they witnessed "abnormal acts" in the White House regarding the proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle Eastern kingdom. According to the report, the effort was pushed by former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in early 2017.

Derek Harvey, a National Security Council official brought in by Flynn, continued work on the proposal, which has remained under consideration by the Trump administration. (The Washington Post reports that it was discussed as recently as last week.) The committee's report details how NSC and ethics officials repeatedly warned that the actions of Flynn and one of his senior aides could run afoul of federal conflicts of interest law and statutes governing the transfer of nuclear technology to foreign powers. Congressional investigators are also probing the role of Tom Barrack, a proponent of the nuclear proposal who ran Trump's presidential inaugural committee. The nuclear proposal—known as the "Marshall Plan for the Middle East—was advocated by a company called IP3 International, which is led by retired military officers and national security officials. (Read more Michael Flynn stories.)

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