Rep. Markey Questions Sec. Bodman on Use of Nonproliferation Funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, this morning pressed Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman on the legality of U.S. subsidies to Russian nuclear scientists that are helping to build important parts of a reactor in Iran. Rep. Markey co-authored a provision in the 2005 Energy Bill, which is now law, that bars all forms of nuclear assistance to countries listed by the U.S. State Department as State Sponsors of Terrorism, such as Iran.

Rep. Markey said, "Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. How could the Bush administration be slashing funding for nuclear nonproliferation efforts while allowing the Energy Department to fund Russian scientists who are at work building a reactor in Iran which will produce enough plutonium every year for 30 nuclear bombs?

"Secretary Bodman doesn't even know whether his department bothered to do a legal analysis of whether this program is legal under the Markey-Cox provision in the 2005 law. This is simply unacceptable."

[View Rep. Markey's questioning of Sec. Bodman during the Energy and Commerce hearing HERE]

According to an article in the New York Times this morning, Department of Energy funds for a nuclear nonproliferation program aimed at keeping former Soviet weapons of mass destruction scientists employed in peaceful pursuits, are supporting Russian scientists working on the construction of Iran's large nuclear reactor.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) included two provisions, authored by Rep. Markey and then-Representative Chris Cox (R-CA) that bar all forms of nuclear assistance to countries listed by the State Department as State Sponsors of Terrorism. The law states that  "no nuclear materials and equipment or sensitive nuclear technology ...  shall be exported or reexported, or transferred or retransferred whether directly or indirectly, and no Federal agency shall issue any license, approval, or authorization for the export or reexport, or transfer, or retransfer, whether directly or indirectly, of these items or assistance (as defined in this paragraph) to any country whose government has been identified by the Secretary of State as engaged in state sponsorship of terrorist activities."

"I am shocked that an administration that has consistently underfunded our critical nonproliferation programs would allow these few precious dollars go flow to a program that is apparently benefiting Iran, which is not only the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, but also a leading nuclear proliferator," concluded Rep. Markey.

February 7, 2008

CONTACT: Jessica Schafer, 202.225.2836