Nuclear Energy 'Cooperation,' with a Twist

Publication Date: 
May 2019

Nuclear Past, Present and Future Project
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

The Trump administration has come under scrutiny from Congress and the nonproliferation policy community about its approval of commercial nuclear dealings with Saudi Arabia, prior to the completion of a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries. While it is important for the administration to adhere to long-established U.S. nonproliferation practices, these activities are not the most consequential shift in U.S. nuclear energy cooperation policymaking in the Trump administration.

Since taking office, President Trump has adopted a confrontational stance toward commercial nuclear development by Russian and Chinese companies who are building commercial nuclear power reactors domestically and exporting them abroad. The administration’s approach — in which it has labeled the countries “predatory revisionists” — threatens nuclear nonproliferation far more than the administration’s support of U.S. nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia, or any country, for that matter.