No matter what one's perspective is on the Iran nuclear problem -- whether one favors negotiations, sanctions, or military action -- it's easy to agree that avoiding future nuclear Irans is in everyone's interest. It is not well remembered, but in 1957 the United States launched Iran's current nuclear program with a nuclear cooperative agreement that Congress passively assented to without a vote or even a hearing. This "Atoms for Peace" agreement resulted in the export of a research reactor, the training of scores of Iranian nuclear engineers at America's very best universities, and the approval of Iran's construction of 23 reactors. All of this history has come back to haunt us.
Now, of course, the United States is trying to get Iran to curtail its nuclear fuel making activities. The State Department also is attempting to get South Korea to forswear making such fuels. The Vietnam deal that Secretary of State John Kerry announced on October 10, though, has no legally binding prohibitions against Vietnam conducting such activities.
On October 28, Senator Bob Corker, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote Secretary Kerry complaining of the State Department’s “inconsistent and confusing” positions on these matters. Other members of the House and Senate are now considering whether to require approval by majority votes in both houses for nuclear cooperative agreements that don’t require the recipient to forswear making nuclear fuel.
NPEC held a December 11 Capitol Hill event to discuss US policy regarding nuclear cooperative agreements and whether or not nonweapons states can make nuclear fuel. Videos of presentations are available below.
Ambassador Mark Wallace
CEO, United Against Nuclear Iran, Former Ambassador to the United Nations
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Chairwoman, House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa
Congressman Brad Sherman
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade
Senator Edward Markey
Chairman, Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance
Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation
Director, Natural Resources Defense Council Nuclear Program
Policy Director, Foreign Policy Initiative
Introduction by NPEC's executive director, Henry Sokolski
Presentation by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Presentation by Congressman Brad Sherman
Presentation by Senator Edward Markey
Experts' Presentations and Discussion