July 8, 2009: MARKEY: UAE NUCLEAR AGREEMENT A BAD DEAL FOR THE U.S.

In testimony, Markey asks for Improvements

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, today submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for its hearing entitled “Nuclear Cooperation with the United Arab Emirates: Review of the Proposed U.S.-UAE Agreement.” 

In his testimony, Rep. Markey said, “I oppose the proposed Agreement for Nuclear Cooperation with the United Arab Emirates because I strongly believe that the interests of the United States are not served by encouraging the countries of the Middle East to accelerate their race for sensitive nuclear technologies.  In addition, the UAE’s record of protecting sensitive technologies is extraordinarily poor, having served as the commercial headquarters of A.Q. Khan while he jumpstarted nuclear weapons programs in Iran, North Korea, and Libya.  The United Arab Emirates is not a country, and the Middle East is not a region, where it is appropriate to export dangerous nuclear technology at this time.”

 
The full text of Rep. Markey’s testimony is below:
 

"Good morning Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, and Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today.
 
I would also like to join the Members of the Committee in welcoming my good friend, Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, in her first appearance before the House as a member of the Obama Administration.  During her time in the House, Ellen and I worked together on a number of vital nuclear security issues, and she is missed already.

Chairman Berman, I oppose the proposed Agreement for Nuclear Cooperation with the United Arab Emirates because I strongly believe that the interests of the United States are not served by encouraging the countries of the Middle East to accelerate their race for sensitive nuclear technologies.  In addition, the UAE’s record of protecting sensitive technologies is extraordinarily poor, having served as the commercial headquarters of A.Q. Khan while he jumpstarted nuclear weapons programs in Iran, North Korea, and Libya.  The United Arab Emirates is not a country, and the Middle East is not a region, where it is appropriate to export dangerous nuclear technology at this time.  That is why I have introduced H.J.Res. 55, a resolution of disapproval pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act, to stop this agreement from entering into force.

We cannot understand the nuclear ambitions of the UAE and other countries in the region without recognizing that they are acting at least partly in response to Iran.

In the past several years, as Iran has moved inexorably forward in its nuclear program, its neighbors Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and the UAE have all stated their intentions to pursue nuclear energy programs.  I do not believe this is merely a coincidence.  Instead, it seems clear to me that Iran’s neighbors are pursuing nuclear energy programs at least partly as a hedge against Iran’s continuing nuclear program. 

Instead of encouraging this trend, the United States ought to be seeking to reverse it.  Instead of engaging France and Russia in a race to the bottom for nuclear construction contracts in the unstable Middle East, the United States ought to be leading all nuclear supplier countries to strengthen the global protections on the transfer of nuclear materials and technologies.

The United Arab Emirates possesses what may well be the single worst record of controlling the import and export of sensitive high-technology goods of any country in the world.  The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control recently published a document titled “Nukes ‘R’ Us: Twenty Five Years of Transshipments Through the United Arab Emirates,” which chronicles what they call only “a small fraction of the total” number of dangerous proliferation shipments which have passed through the Emirates.  Among the most shocking transshipments documented in this study are:

-100 metric tons of centrifuge-grade steel to Iraq;
-66 triggered spark gaps, which can be used as nuclear bomb triggers, to Pakistan; and
-60 tons of chemical weapons precursors to Iran.
 
 In addition to this, the UAE served as a key node of the A.Q. Khan nuclear weapons proliferation ring.  Exploiting the infamous nonexistence of the Emirates’ export controls, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb was able to provide uranium enrichment technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. 

 
More recently, a new scandal has called into question the ability and willingness of the UAE to enforce its own laws.  The shocking and horrific videotapes of torture being committed by a member of the Emirates’ royal family, aided by officers of the police and military, raised profound questions about whether the rule of law is truth or fiction in the UAE.  A country where powerful and well-connected individuals can flout the laws is not a country that can be trusted to safeguard sensitive U.S. nuclear technology.

 
I believe that if this agreement is to enter into force, three additional elements should be delivered by the Obama administration.  These three new components could negotiated without reopening the already-signed agreement, making them relatively easy to accomplish.

 
First, the United States should secure an agreement from all other nuclear supplier states that, if they negotiate any nuclear supply agreements with the UAE, that they will not undercut the nonproliferation commitments negotiated by the United States.  Securing this sort of multilateral commitment by other nuclear suppliers would ensure that the new provisions in the U.S.-UAE agreement would not simply be ignored by France or Russia.

 
Second, UAE should agree to accept near-real time monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of its comprehensive safeguards agreement.  So far, like Iran, the UAE has not agreed to this enhanced safeguards measure.  By securing the UAE’s agreement to near-real time monitoring, it would help us pressure Iran to accept the same measure.

 
And third, the United States should receive the assurance of the UAE that it will fully support and implement current sanctions against Iran for its ongoing nuclear program, as well as any additional sanctions that are levied in the future.  Given that so much of the international trade flowing into and out of Iran passes through the UAE, its commitment to full implementation of all sanctions against Iran is absolutely essential for such sanctions to be effective in bringing an end to Tehran’s dangerous nuclear ambitions.

Chairman Berman, thank you again for allowing me to testify today.  I hope that the Committee will press for the improvements that I have mentioned.