The Obama administration is pushing for a 40-year extension to its nuclear trade agreement with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.
A proposal submitted to Congress last week would renew for another 40 years a decades-old accord that lets Washington supply nonmilitary nuclear assets to the International Atomic Energy Agency and its member states. The existing agreement initially was implemented in 1959 and the new extension would allow it to remain in force a total of 95 years.
The White House said the pact covers transfers of nuclear-material samples in support of IAEA safeguards inspections, which seek to prevent the spread of nuclear-arms capabilities. It also permits the provision of atomic-reactor components in international deals facilitated by the Vienna-based organization.
"The agreement exemplifies the U.S. government's strong support for IAEA peaceful uses activities, and the United States looks forward to expanding these cooperative efforts in the years to come," the State Department said.
Last week's submission of the renewal language to Capitol Hill kicked off a 90-day period during which Congress could potentially object to the proposal. The extension amendment came up only in passing during a Thursday Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing devoted mainly to U.S. nuclear trade and nonproliferation policy, governed by Section 123 of the 1954 U.S. Atomic Energy Act.
The Obama administration has not released the text of the proposed amendment, or the unclassified section of an accompanying Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement submitted to U.S. lawmakers.
In a November statement, Washington's envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said the United States has supplied atomic materials or technology to 28 countries since the accord took effect in 1959.
"This proposed [renewal language] is extremely short and simple, and its negotiators took care not to disturb the mechanisms that have worked effectively for decades to enhance cooperation as directed by the agency's statute," added Ambassador Joseph MacManus, who signed the extension measure on Jan. 21 with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.
The renewal measure would update the cooperation deal to include the latest IAEA recommendations for physically securing nuclear materials and sites.