Sources familiar with Saudi energy policy said the threat had been discussed internally by Saudi energy officials, with two insiders adding it had also been discussed with OPEC members. One official added that Riyadh had communicated the threat to the US. A source said: “The Saudis know they have the dollar as the nuclear option.” The US bill is called NOPEC and the chances of it coming into play are slim.
Regardless, the threat is a dramatic step taken by the Saudis.
Another source added: “The Saudis say: let the Americans pass NOPEC and it would be the U.S. economy that would fall apart.”
When approached for a comment by Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry did not respond.
The US Energy Department also did not respond to a request for comment, but Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said that NOPEC could lead to unintended consequences.
A US state department official said: “As a general matter, we don’t comment on pending legislation.”
NOPEC, or the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, was introduced in 2000 with the aim to pave the way for OPEC members to be sued for curbing output in a bid to raise oil prices.
Previously, the bill has never made it into law despite numerous attempts.
Though Mr Trump said he backed NOPEC in a book published in 2011 before he was elected.
Since he became President, he has not voiced support of the legislation. The news comes after satellite images showed the Saudis completing its first nuclear reactor.
The nation is a year away from opening the facility according to former director of nuclear inspections for the UN Robert Kelley, who has interpreted Google satellite images taken over the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST).
Mr Kelley said he was stunned by the nation’s ‘non-transparent’ and ‘cavalier’ plans, of which he said would have to abide by an agreement that requires UN inspections from the organisation’s watchdog called the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).