July 11, 2006 - MARKEY URGES PRESIDENT TO ANSWER CRITICAL QUESTIONS BEFORE SIGNING NUCLEAR DEAL WITH RUSSIA THIS WEEK

WASHINGTON, DC –Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force on Non-Proliferation, sent a letter today to President Bush in anticipation of his trip to the G-8 Summit in Russia this week.  Rep. Markey called on President Bush to answer a wide range of questions before he signs any deal with the Russian government to make it the world’s nuclear waste repository.

“Does President Bush actually think that the American people will support nuclear cooperation with Russia while Russia insists on providing nuclear materials to Iran and refuses to join the sanctions-based approach to ending Iran’s nuclear ambitions?  Russia’s policy on this issue has a long way to go before we should consider a nuclear deal with them,” Markey said.  

“Our plans to deal with the global nuclear waste problem should not be to turn it into a nuclear waste marketplace in a country with such a poor record of securing their own nuclear materials,” Markey continued, “President Bush has spent 6 years under-funding the Nunn-Lugar program which works to secure nuclear material in Russia and the other former Soviet Union countries.  Now he wants to ship other countries’ spent nuclear fuel to a nation that we know has very serious nuclear security problems?  That is just plain naïve.”

“There also seems to be a disconnect between what U.S. and Russian officials are saying about this deal.  U.S. officials stress that it could open the door to Russian storing spent fuel from reactors around the world, but some Russian officials have denied that Russia has any intention of becoming the world’s nuclear waste dump and said that what they’re after is access to next generation power reactor and reprocessing technology.”

Rep. Markey’s letter to President Bush is below: 

July 11, 2006
Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare for the upcoming G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg, various reports have emerged indicating that you will soon begin negotiations on a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia.  Various justifications for this dramatic policy reversal have been offered in the press, including allowing Russia to import United States-origin spent nuclear fuel. 

Before you wade into these uncharted nuclear waters, I urge that you provide answers to the many unanswered questions raised by potential nuclear cooperation with Russia.  For example, it will be important to know:

·           What kind of safeguards would be applied to any U.S.-origin spent fuel Russia receives to ensure that it is not diverted for weapons purposes?  

·           Will Russia be granted full access to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership and Gen IV advanced reactor programs, and if so, what are the proliferation and security implications of allowing such access?

·           Will Russia agree to obtain prior U.S. consent for any re-exports or retransfers of U.S.-origin nuclear material or technology?

·           Will Russia comply with the requirements of U.S. law that bar re-exports or retransfers of U.S.-origin nuclear materials or technologies to counties on the list of state sponsors of terrorism?

·           Will the U.S. have a right of return in the event of Russian violations of any nuclear cooperation agreement?

·           Will the Bush administration allow Russia to reprocess American-origin fuel?  

·           What guarantees would we have that Russia will get serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program in return for this multi-billion dollar gift?

Unless Russia agrees to strengthen security over its nuclear materials, guarantee that it will not reprocess the spent fuel it receives and remove plutonium, and most importantly get serious about stopping the Iranian nuclear program, then a nuclear cooperation deal with Russia is untimely and dangerous.

I look forward to your earliest reply.

                        Respectfully,

                        Edward J. Markey

For more information on Markey’s work on non-proliferation and other international issues, please go to http://markey.house.gov.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 11, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein
202.225.2836