The president of the United States, Donald Trump, spoke about the protection the United States offers to Saudi Arabia amid the increasing pressure on the U.S. administration to impose sanctions on Riyadh because of its responsibility in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and in the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a Cabinet meeting yesterday in Washington, Trump said that Saudi Arabia has nothing other than money. The president’s recent remarks echo his harsh criticism following the assassination of Saudi journalist Khashoggi on Oct. 2. Trump said that without U.S. protection, Saudi Arabia would have quickly collapsed, and that Riyadh has had to pay huge sums of money for America's defense in recent decades.

Nuclear Weapons

Trump's remarks on nuclear weapons came while both Democratic and Republican senators are drafting a resolution providing that any deal to share U.S. nuclear weapons technology with Saudi Arabia must block the kingdom from making a nuclear weapon. The sponsors stressed that the United States should not inadvertently assist a party that is acting badly on the global stage in the development of nuclear weapons. The resolution, drafted by Democratic and Republican lawmakers, bans any American nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia beyond the so-called golden rule that prohibits any cooperation allowing another country to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium in its territory.

The War in Yemen

More than two weeks ago, Democratic and Republican legislators put forward a war powers resolution as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and to condemn Khashoggi's murder in the consulate in Istanbul.

The president has threatened to veto any attempt in Congress to end U.S. military support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Trump also ignored the deadline set by Congress for the White House to report on the killing of journalist Khashoggi and whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved and subject to sanctions under the Magnitsky Act.*

Members of Congress called for punishment of those involved in the Khashoggi assassination, and accused President Trump of being in contempt of Congress after he ignored last Friday’s deadline to identify those responsible for the assassination.

At the end of last year, Congress unanimously approved a resolution stipulating that the Saudi crown prince was responsible for the assassination of journalist Khashoggi, who had been critical of the government in recent years.

*Editor’s note: The Magnitsky Act was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012 and authorizes the U.S. government to sanction human rights offenders.