Now detailed to the National Security Council staff as energy policy director, Connery told Poneman that she had not yet seen State’s draft text but hoped to obtain a copy soon. Some sections of Goorevich's e-mail message were redacted on the basis that they contained privileged or advisory content.
Speaking at a Washington event in March 2011, Stratford ticked off the names of nations with which the United States might conclude nuclear trade agreements, from a paper pulled out of his jacket pocket.
The list is something “I keep with me, of all the agreements that I have to do over the next four years, assuming I hang around that long,” Stratford told the audience at a panel discussion sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Lacking government confirmation of the contents of the interagency short list dictating the order in which nuclear accords were to be pursued, Stratford’s 2011 cheat sheet might offer some hints.
He said that the pact with Jordan had been largely negotiated--and could include its own UAE-like provision limiting nuclear fuel production--but would likely await more stability in the Middle East before being finalized. Talks with Vietnam had begun but were on hold at the time, as the administration reviewed its gold standard policy in general, Stratford said.
That strategy review resulted early this year in a policy in which the United States would decide whether to incorporate nuclear fuel-making bans in new and renewal agreements on a “case-by-case” basis (see GSN, Jan. 23). However, the approach was pulled back into review just a few months later (see GSN, May 4).
A resolution of the now-stalled interagency debate--with State reportedly favoring a more active pursuit of the gold standard worldwide and Energy preferring the industry-supported case-by-case tack -- awaits a White House decision, according to Washington insiders.
At the 2011 event, Stratford also noted the U.S. nuclear trade agreements up for renewal, namely Bangladesh in 2012; Colombia in 2013; Norway in 2014; the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2014; and Thailand in 2014. Trailing those on Stratford’s list was Taiwan in 2014.
The State official also mentioned ongoing negotiations with South Korea to renew its U.S. pact ahead of a 2014 expiration date. Talks with that East Asian ally have been led at a higher diplomatic level by Robert Einhorn, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control. Those talks reportedly have been bogged down over Seoul’s desire to engage in what Washington considers to be reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent fuel.
Stratford cited an anticipated renewal agreement with China before an existing pact expires in 2015, as well as the possibility of talks with Mongolia and Saudi Arabia to explore whether first-time cooperation accords should be pursued (see GSN, Sept. 30, 2011, and July 28, 2011).
“Proponents of the gold standard would rather start with Taiwan because it is almost certainly their best chance to set a precedent for future agreements,” said Lewis, previewing a theme on which he intends to elaborate in an upcoming Foreign Policy blog post. “I am not at all surprised if whoever at State added the no-ENR provision to the draft also put Taiwan on top of the stack.”
Given interagency wrangling over the matter since 2009, the Energy Department officials might have opposed pushing Taiwan to the front of the pack for nuclear trade agreements, especially if the accord would include the special nonproliferation language. However, the State Department takes the lead on atomic cooperation negotiations and the redacted version of Goorevich’s e-mail did not make clear Energy’s view on the matter.
For his own part, Poneman has been among those advocating that the Obama administration take a case-by-case approach to applying the gold standard worldwide, rather than make it the new norm as several influential U.S. lawmakers from both parties would prefer (see GSN, Feb. 17).
In fact, the Energy deputy and others have argued that it could be useful for selected nations to provide comprehensive nuclear fuel services--potentially to include uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing--for reactors worldwide. This could both help assure energy supply and limit the proliferation of atomic weapons, Poneman argued in a 2004 Survival article coauthored with John Deutch, Arnold Kantor, and Ernest Moniz.