Sunday, February 3, 2019

Bonesaw Diplomacy: New at Reason

By Reason Staff - February 03, 2019 at 10:15AM

Mohammed bin Salman had been crown prince of Saudi Arabia for only a few months, but he was already on his second U.S. visit. In March 2018, the young monarch (usually known as "MBS") spent three weeks on a whirlwind P.R. tour of America, meeting everyone from Jeff Bezos to Morgan Freeman.

But the trip was about more than photo ops and hobnobbing. In the month leading up to the visit, the Saudi government had retained three American law firms—David Kultgen, King & Spalding, and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman—to advise it on and lobby for a potential bilateral agreement on nuclear research. On March 7, a Canadian law firm called Gowling WLG likewise signed a $66,000-per-month contract with the Saudi government related to "the development of a civil nuclear program." (As of press time, none of these firms has responded to requests for comment.)

Saudi Arabia and the United States are engaged in negotiations over just such a program: Under a proposed plan, American companies would build nuclear reactors for the Saudi government, writes Matthew Petti.

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