Key Members of Congress call on President Obama to Conduct Nuclear Trade Policy Review
Ask President to Withhold a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the UAE
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), joined by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Edward Markey (D-MA), sent a letter yesterday to President Obama calling for a review of international nuclear cooperation policy and requesting that he withhold a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) until that country makes greater progress in controlling the transshipment of sensitive technologies to Iran.
The letter calls on the Obama Administration to conduct a thorough review of U.S. nuclear cooperation policy, and to consider the inclusion of several provisions in any future agreements submitted to Congress to strengthen nonproliferation policies. The U.A.E. agreement, which had originally been negotiated by the Bush Administration, has been held out as a "model" for future nuclear cooperation with foreign countries.
"Due to concerns about greenhouse gases and last year's high oil prices, we saw a significant increase across the globe in nuclear power, including among energy rich states," said Sherman, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. "It is critical that if we go forward with nuclear cooperation agreements, they have strong nonproliferation policies. If the U.A.E. agreement is the template, we need to ensure it's the best agreement we can achieve."
The letter also calls on the U.A.E. to take stronger action to prevent the flow of dangerous shipments to Iran. U.A.E. is a noted transshipment and diversion point. "While the U.A.E has made significant strides, it still has not fully implemented an export control law enacted in 2007. We should leverage this agreement for greater progress by the U.A.E. on this critical concern for the U.S." Sherman said.
"Given the U.A.E.'s past history as the major transshipment point for goods destined for Iran's nuclear and missile programs, serious concerns remain about its eligibility for a nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S. We still have questions about the effectiveness of its export control system, elements of which have yet to be fully implemented," said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "There are pending issues concerning enforcement and safeguards to avoid diversion of sensitive materials and technology to problem recipients. Its nuclear regulatory structure is still not fully in place. The U.A.E.'s cooperation with the U.S. on combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation is a relatively recent development. Critical U.S. security interests are at stake. Moving in haste could jeopardize those vital interests. If the U.S.-U.A.E. agreement is to be the model for future nuclear cooperation agreements, we need to get it right the first time."
"This past weekend, President Obama presented a sweeping new vision of a world free from the terror of nuclear weapons and a strategy which would dramatically improve the security of the United States and the world," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the chairman of twin climate and energy panels in the House. "In his speech, the President said he would work to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation treaty so that any expansion of nuclear power across the globe is done without increasing the risks of proliferation.' Unfortunately, the nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates increases the risks of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. The President should improve the nonproliferation elements of this deal to be a true gold standard, or he should not ask the Congress for its approval at all."
Under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, nuclear cooperation agreements govern the exports of nuclear reactor equipment and technology, as well as nuclear fuel. Without one of these agreements in place, significant transfers of nuclear technology from the U.S. to a foreign country are impossible. A nuclear cooperation agreement must be submitted to Congress for a 90 day review period before it can go into effect.