Markey Tells Admin to Hold Off on Russia Nuke Deal
Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chair of the House Bipartisan Nonproliferation Task Force, sent a letter to the Bush administration today warning against seeking congressional approval of a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia before outstanding concerns have been addressed. Rep. Markey expressed concern specifically about Russia's work with Iran on nuclear energy and missile technology.
Rep. Markey said, "Only last year the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that Russia continues to assist Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The President ought to be focusing on changing Russia's attitude towards Iran, not rewarding Moscow for its bad behavior."
Rep. Markey's May 1, 2008 letter to President Bush available here.
In February, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Rep. Markey pressed Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman to answer questions about recent revelations that Russian research institutes which receive Department of Energy nonproliferation funds are engaged in assisting Iran's nuclear program. When the Secretary was unable to answer the questions, Rep. Markey asked for responses in writing along with a legal analysis of whether this assistance is in full compliance with the Cox-Markey Amendment of 2005, which bars nuclear trade, direct or indirect, to countries named by the Department of State as State Sponsors of Terror. Iran has topped that list for many years.
Secretary Bodman's responses to Rep. Markey's questions are due on May 16, 2008. A full list of Rep. Markey's questions on this subject from the Feb 7th hearing available here.
"The administration should refrain from submitting any Agreement for Nuclear Cooperation with Russia to the Congress for approval until these concerns about Russia's connections to Iran have been satisfied. This agreement with Russia is not required to advance any of our current nonproliferation or energy goals. There is no reason to rush into a hasty agreement," added Rep. Markey.
Rep. Markey first raised concerns about this nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia in 2006. Rep. Markey's 2006 letter and response from the State Department available here.