Obama Team Seeks to Renew U.N. Nuclear Supply Pact

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano, left, and U.S. Ambassador Joseph MacManus on Jan. 21 sign a measure to extend Washington's trade agreement with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Feb. 3, 2014, 7:06 a.m.

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.

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