US lawmakers want to understand how the Trump administration let private US corporations give sensitive nuclear information to Saudi Arabia.

The US Department of Energy granted seven permits allowing early-stage nuclear power technology be sold to Saudi Arabia.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told cross-party US senators he did not know whether the permits were granted before or after the state-sanctioned murder of dissident journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

Google Earth satellite imagery reveals Saudi Arabia’s first reactor will be operational in 2019. State-owned Argentinian manufacturer Invap SE designed and supervised construction of the—relatively small—30-kilowatt reactor.

Experts are concerned about nations acquiring nuclear capabilities without agreeing to non-proliferation treaties. Saudi Arabia has not signed the international charters which ensure civilian atomic programs aren’t used to build weapons.

How should we regulate sensitive nuclear information flowing from private-sector entities to foreign states?

Should there be disqualifying factors? Or is unfettered knowledge transmission necessary for nuclear development—considered an effective carbon-free energy source?

     

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.