Mideast nuclear plan backers bragged of support of top Trump aide Flynn

The documents reveal new aspects of the plan, including the proposed involvement of a Russian company currently under US sanctions to manufacture nuclear equipment.

By REUTERS
December 1, 2017 23:35
2 minute read.
Trump Putin

President Donald Trump, joined by (left to right) Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior adviser Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Backers of a US-Russian plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East bragged after the US election they had backing from Donald Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn for a project that required lifting sanctions on Russia, documents reviewed by Reuters show.

The documents, which have not previously been made public, reveal new aspects of the plan, including the proposed involvement of a Russian company currently under US sanctions to manufacture nuclear equipment. That company, major engineering and construction firm OMZ OAO, declined to comment.

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The documents do not show whether Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, took concrete steps to push the proposal with Trump and his aides. But they do show that Washington-based nuclear power consultancy ACU Strategic Partners believed that both Flynn, who had worked as an adviser to the firm as late as mid-2016, and Trump were firmly in its corner.

"Donald Trump's election as president is a game changer because Trump's highest foreign policy priority is to stabilize US relations with Russia which are now at a historical low-point," ACU's managing director, Alex Copson, wrote in a November 16, 2016 email to potential business partners, eight days after the election.

White House officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. ACU declined comment and also declined to make Copson available for an interview. Previously they told a congressional committee that they had not had any dealings with Flynn since May 2016, before Trump became the Republican Party's presidential candidate.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, did not respond to a request for comment.

Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about a discussion with the former Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, in late December 2016 regarding sanctions.

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The documents also show that ACU proposed ending Ukraine's opposition to lifting sanctions on Russia by giving a Ukrainian company a $45 billion contract to provide turbine generators for reactors to be built in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations.

The contract to state-owned Turboatom, and loans to Ukraine from Gulf Arab states, would "require Ukraine to support lifting US and EU sanctions on Russia," Copson wrote in the November 16 email.

A Turboatom spokeswoman said she did not have an immediate comment on the matter.

The email was titled "TRUMP/PUTIN ME Marshall plan CONCEPT." ME stands for Middle East. The title, evoking the post-World War Two plan to rebuild Western European economies, reflected the hopes of the plan's backers that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could cooperate on a project that would boost Middle East economies.

The email can be seen here: http://tmsnrt.rs/2ALdoCY

The ACU documents reviewed by Reuters include emails, business presentations and financial estimates and date from late autumn 2016.

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