It will be essential for Congress to stand firm on this issue, especially because the Trump administration has been inconsistent on policy positions, particularly on foreign policy issues. It could very well reverse the trajectory and sign a 123-year agreement with Saudi Arabia that does not meet the “gold standard”. That is why congressional leaders must take the lead in cementing Minister Perry`s written attitude by the Saudi Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act. This could make a difference by preventing a new regional nuclear arms race in the Middle East. These new developments seem to have convinced major U.S. nuclear export producers that they could not go beyond the gold standard. In July 2019, S.R. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and retired Army General Jack Keane suggested that all countries in the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, meet the gold standard, and if they do, they should all be eligible for nuclear power plants in the same way. However, if there is to be nuclear exports to the Middle East, a gold standard offers welcome protection and should be a standard provision of nuclear cooperation agreements. Just two years ago, no one in Washington would have bet that the gold standard for civil cooperation in the field of nuclear energy would survive as a serious proposal, but today its value is widely understood and the burden of proof rests with those who oppose it.
There is no doubt that there is another element in this change in exporters: the realization that the United States no longer has the capacity to export large quantities of nuclear energy. The last major nuclear vendor, Westinghouse, has been a Japanese owner for years. He was recently bankrupted and is now a Canadian company and the shadow of his former self. The main export of electric reactors to Saudi Arabia is likely to come from South Korea, which is building the four units for the United Arab Emirates. It is significant that IP3, which calls itself the “integrator” of nuclear projects, is now trying to establish an agreement between South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Broad congressional support for U.S. participation in expanding the use of nuclear energy in the Middle East is no longer possible without agreements involving the gold standard. Finally, in 2009, the United States negotiated and signed new agreements with the United Arab Emirates (known for the “gold standard”) and Vietnam in 2014 and signed new agreements in 2010 with Australia, Taiwan in 2013 (which also included “gold standard” provisions), China and South Korea in 2015 and Norway in 2016.
The “gold standard” provisions concern a country that declares itself ready to forego the enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear materials. Fortunately, there is already more substantial legislation in the form of the bipartisan, bicameral nuclear non-proliferation law. The legislation was originally introduced to bring Congress into the discussion of Saudi nuclear cooperation, when it seemed that the White House could not force Saudi Arabia to waive the right to enrich or process armed nuclear fuels. The bill would impose the “gold standard” in each of the 123 agreements with the Saudis, as well as adherence to the additional protocol with the IAEA. The agreement should also receive a joint approval resolution instead of a passive agreement, as is the case with other civilian nuclear agreements. The problems did not begin with the Trump administration. In 2009, the Obama administration had a brief success in securing the United Arab Emirates, then planned a four-unit nuclear project to sign a standard gold agreement, like Taiwan later. However, other potential customers resisted and the Obama administration stopped insisting on the gold standard.
Rose Gottemoeller, the Obama administration`s undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said she dislikes the term “gold standard” because it implies that other agreements are less protective. It`s you. In 2013, she told the Nuclear Energy Institute,