July 29, 2009: GAO Report Finds Flaws in President Bush


GAO Report Finds Flaws in President Bush’s Nuclear Agreement with Russia

Evaluation Process on Russia’s Proliferation Activities Fell Short


 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee released a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled, “U.S.-Russia Nuclear Agreement:  Interagency Process Used to Develop the Classified Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Needs to Be Strengthened.” The report outlines significant problems within the executive-branch process for evaluating Russia’s nuclear proliferation activities as part of the U.S.-Russia negotiation of a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement.


“It boggles the mind that the government can’t even properly evaluate the nuclear proliferation behavior of a country being considered for sensitive U.S. nuclear technology exports,” said Chairman Markey.  “Thankfully, the Russia nuclear cooperation agreement was put on ice last year and Congress was not forced to vote on that agreement based on incomplete information. However, there is another nuclear cooperation agreement pending before the Congress, this time with the United Arab Emirates.  The Congress ought not to vote on the nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates until we have been assured that the problems which GAO has identified have been corrected.”


“It was irresponsible of the Bush Administration to submit this agreement to Congress before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission saw the final assessment and before our intelligence agencies had sufficient time to review this critical classified document,” said Chairman Waxman.


“GAO’s findings confirm many of the concerns our committee raised last year when President Bush initially submitted the Russian nuclear pact to Congress,” said Chairman Stupak.  “The Bush Administration was wise to withdraw the U.S.-Russia agreement from consideration, but it is alarming that such an agreement would even be submitted in the first place.  Because the problems GAO has identified are systemic and not unique to the Russian agreement, Congress should not be asked to consider any further nuclear cooperation agreements until appropriate reforms have been implemented.”


Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act establishes the procedures by which the President may negotiate and implement civilian nuclear cooperation programs with other countries.  One requirement of the law is that the President submits to Congress a Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS), which summarizes and evaluates the proliferation-related activities of the foreign country in question.  The purpose of the NPAS is to ensure that the relevant cabinet agencies have shared all pertinent information with each other, and to serve as a vehicle to fully inform Congress of any questionable activities of the foreign country which ought to be taken into account when considering whether or not to approve U.S. nuclear technology exports to that country.


The report found significant problems in the interagency process for developing the NPAS, including:


·                    The time allowed for researching and drafting critical documents was rushed to fit an arbitrary political calendar;

·                    Because of poor communication by the Department of State, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to approve the Russia agreement based on an incomplete version of the classified Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement, and was not provided a final version of the document for several more months; and

·                    That according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the rushed timeline prevented the intelligence community from conducting a substantive analysis of the classified Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement to determine if it was complete.


You can find a full copy of the report here: http://markey.house.gov/images/PDFs/gao-09-743r%20-%20us-russia%20nuclear%20agreement.pdf