Congressional WMD Commission Progress Report Pushes NPEC Nuclear Recommendations
October 21, 2009
Press Contact: Henry Sokolski, NPEC, 703-271-9852
The Congressionally mandated Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction in its first assessment of the Obama Administration urged the White House and Congress to act on four nuclear recommendations made by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC). The commission’s progress report, "The Clock is Ticking", released October 21, 2009, called on Congress and the Obama Administration to do more to support the key recommendations first made in NPEC’s 2008 study, "Falling Behind: International Scrutiny of the Peaceful Atom", including:
1. Creating an alternative energy Peace Corps and to cooperate with developing nations in the development of non-nuclear energy sources as required by Title V of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978. There currently is proposed legislation by Senator Akaka in the Senate (S. 1675) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (H.R. 3774) in the House to accomplish this. The commission urged the White House to support their passage.
2. Discouraging the use of financial incentives in the promotion of civilian nuclear power. The commission report noted that discouraging the use of such incentives was critical to strengthening the nonproliferation regime and warned that: “It is unclear if Congress and the Administration” will do so. In specific, the Congress is now considering extending billions in federal loan guarantees to garner Republican votes for cap and trade legislation.
3. Imposing a moratorium on commercial plutonium reprocessing. The commission praised the Obama Administration for placing a moratorium on the licensing of a commercial demonstration of plutonium recycling in the U.S. and for requiring a no nuclear fuel making pledge from Middle Eastern applicants for nuclear cooperation with the U.S. But the commission also made it clear that it would “assess” how well the Administration will keep this commitment. Currently, the U.S. is negotiating the terms under which India might reprocess U.S. origin spent reactor fuel. The Department of Energy is also considering how it might continue to promote President Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, a program that emphasized nuclear recycling.
4. Assessing the IAEA’s ability to provide timely warning of military nuclear diversions from civilian nuclear sites and expand its near-real time surveillance capabilities. The commission applauded the House for taking the commission’s recommendations that the government should “independently and in cooperation with the IAEA assess how well the IAEA is meeting its own nucelar safeguards goals, whether these goals are tough enough to provide timely warning of military diversions and where the IAEA is unlikely to get such warning no matter how much additional authority or funding it receives. Legislation requiring such routine assessments passed in the House. The commission urged the Senate to pass a similar bill. Also, the commission urged the IAEA to expand its “near-real time” capabilities to ensure its inspection cameras are fully functional by deploying more secure satellite links to the monitors they have deployed.