WASHINGTON, DC –Today Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the House Non-proliferation Task Force and a senior Democratic Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today sent a letter to President Bush asking about the legality of the European proposal to allow Iran to acquire a light water reactor. 

“It is bad enough that President Bush is outsourcing the negotiations on the most critical nuclear threat the that United States faces, it is even worse that it might result in exports that violate a new nuclear non-proliferation law Congress enacted just eight months ago,” said Rep. Markey.

In a letter sent today to President Bush, Markey expressed concerns about potential violations of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) that could occur if the EU light water reactor deal were to move forward:

“While I support efforts to see a negotiated resolution of the crisis over Iran’s violations of its commitments as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and its obligations under its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement, providing light water reactor technology, nuclear materials, or dual-use nuclear items to Iran would violate the aforementioned provisions of law if they: 1) involve any transfer or retransfer of U.S.-origin nuclear materials or nuclear-related technologies or technical data; or, 2) involve any direct or indirect indemnification by the United States of any entity for any liability associated with any nuclear accident in Iran.”

Rep. Markey’s letter cited Section 632 of EPACT, which added a new subsection b. to Section 129 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to restrict all transfers or retransfers of nuclear or nuclear-related technology to countries on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, as well as Section 635 of EPACT, which bar any direct or indirect indemnification of persons involved in such transfers from liability in the event of a nuclear accident.

In the letter, Rep. Markey concluded that, “While press reports have indicated that the U.S. is opposed to the reported proposal to transfer light water react technology to Iran, it is unclear whether the Europeans are fully aware of the requirements of U.S. law, in particular, the newly enacted EPACT provisions.”  He also noted that, “It is also unclear whether any U.S.-origin materials or technology would be part of such a LWR transfer,” asking “what actions the Administration has or is taking to make our European allies aware of these legal requirements and what steps the Administration is taking to ensure that the aforementioned countries are fully complying with these legal requirements.”

Rep. Markey, a long time advocate of sensible non-proliferation policy has been a voice of opposition to the President’s nuclear policy on Iran, North Korea and India. 

Copy of Letter to President Bush Copy of Letter to President Bush (153.38 KB), May 16, 2006

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2006

 CONTACT: Tara McGuinness
Jeff Duncan