In 2018, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry began to publicly promote a plan that was strikingly similar to one developed by former Trump advisors and private actors such as the firm IP3 International and investor Thomas Barrack, a close friend and donor to Trump who could profit from the plan. The plan included the sharing of U.S. nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia, which would require the negotiation of a nuclear cooperation agreement (a “123 Agreement”). CREW requested communications between Perry’s office and Thomas Barrack, IP3 International, Westinghouse Electric, and others to understand the reasons for his support of the plan and the influence of nuclear energy interests.
In May 2018, Perry testified before the House Science, Space and Technology committee that the administration was considering the establishment of a 123 Agreement with Saudi Arabia. During his testimony, Perry referred to Westinghouse Electric Co. as the “best reactor builder in the world” and emphasized the benefits that such an agreement would have for the American nuclear energy sector. Perry continued to hold talks with Saudi leaders regarding a 123 Agreement and make public statements on the subject throughout the rest of the year, meeting with Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih and the CEO of the Saudi national oil company Saudi Aramco in December. More recently, American nuclear energy developers met with President Trump in February of 2019 to ask for help securing contracts to build nuclear power plants “in the Middle East and elsewhere overseas.”
Perry’s support for the establishment of a 123 Agreement with Saudi Arabia, along with his praise of U.S. nuclear energy companies, raise questions about how Perry came to support the plan and whether his support has been influenced by outside interests. The requested records would shed light on the extent to which Perry’s decision-making on this issue has been informed by nuclear industry advocates.