The U.S. authorized American companies to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia shortly after the murder of Kingdom’s journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a U.S. lawmaker.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, the state where Khashoggi resided while in the U.S., said on Tuesday he saw the approvals and that they were "shocking".
One was granted Oct. 18, 2018 -- 16 days after Khashoggi was killed following his entry to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The second was granted in February.
The authorizations are among seven granted by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration since 2017, as Saudi Arabia has been working toward developing its first two nuclear reactors, according to Kaine.
The revelation of the timing of the authorizations may spark new debate and criticism from politicians who have been critical of the Trump administration's response to Khashoggi's murder.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence the killing was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Despite calls from many lawmakers to end support for Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi's murder, Trump failed to assert pressure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. Instead, he touted a $110 billion arms sales agreement with the Kingdom.
The nuclear technology sharing approvals, known as Part 810s authorizations, were first reported on in March. They would allow U.S. companies to share details about their plans to work in Riyadh and information regarding nuclear technology.
And some in Washington are concerned that sharing nuclear technology with Riyadh could trigger an arms race in the Middle East.
Kaine said the authorizations were "one of the many steps the administration is taking that is fueling a dangerous escalation of tension in the region."
"I have serious questions about whether any decisions on nuclear transfers were made based on the Trump family’s financial ties rather than the interests of the American people," Kaine said.
By Umar Farooq in Washington