By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Representative Brad Sherman is planning to introduce legislation that would block a controversial nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia following the Kingdom's killing of a Washington Post columnist, according to a report published Friday.
Should it become law, the bill, which was exclusively obtained by Vox.com, would represent Washington's strongest response to date over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
After offering vacillating explanations for Khashoggi's disappearance, Riyadh has acknowledged he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he entered the diplomatic facility.
Khashoggi's body has not returned to his family despite their calls on the Kingdom to do so amid speculation it was chemically dissolved.
Sherman's bill, nicknamed the "No Nuclear Weapons for Saudi Arabia Act of 2018," would scuttle ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on a nuclear cooperation agreement.
The bill comes amid bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill over Khashoggi's killing which could see it make its way through the legislature.
"I don’t think this bill would’ve passed prior to the events in Istanbul," Sherman told Vox. "Now I think we have a chance."
The bill would require U.S. President Donald Trump to submit a "123 agreement" — a set of rules that must be met for a legal sale of nuclear technology to a foreign country — to Congress for approval.
It would also require Trump to acquire a "Gold Standard" agreement from Riyadh which would specify the Kingdom would not enrich uranium to build a bomb, and lastly the legislation would require the Trump administration to report on Khashoggi's killing and the state of human rights inside Saudi Arabia.
"If powerful elements in Riyadh can’t be trusted with a bone saw," says Sherman, "you can’t trust them with a nuclear weapon."