Rep. Markey author of key 2005 law barring nuclear exports to countries that sponsor terrorism, asks Sec. Rice for details

WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to new reports, a deal negotiated between North Korea and the United States may pave the way for construction of new light water nuclear reactors to be resumed in North Korea. Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, today raised concerns regarding press reports that North Korea may be removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List as part of a new “side deal” with the U.S.

“In 2005, we wrote a law specifically aimed at closing the door on the possibility of civilian nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and North Korea. Given North Korea’s dangerous record of developing nuclear weapons, exporting advanced missile technology, engaging in international criminal activity, and engaging in international terrorism, that prohibition is just as necessary today as it was two years ago when the president signed it into law,” said Rep. Markey, author of a 2005 law requiring any country on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism to be barred from receiving U.S-origin. nuclear materials and technologies.

Markey explained, “Removing North Korea from the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism would remove the vital legal prohibition against nuclear cooperation with that country. I have serious doubts about whether there is justification for taking such an action at this time, particularly in light of recent reports suggesting a possible nuclear connection between North Korea and Syria – another notorious state sponsor of terrorism.”

Rep. Markey, along with former Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) waged a six year battle to enact legal restrictions on nuclear trade with North Korea. Their efforts culminated in the enactment of Sections 632 and 635 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which President Bush signed into law on August 8, 2005 as PL 109-58.

• Section 632 states that no nuclear materials and equipment, sensitive nuclear technology, or nuclear-related items “shall be exported or reexported, or transferred or retransferred whether directly or indirectly” to “any country whose government has been identified by the Secretary of State as engaged in state sponsorship of terrorist activities.” The restriction can only be lifted if the President removes the country from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, or creates a special waiver.

• Section 635 prohibits the federal government from entering into any contract or arrangement that would “directly or indirectly impose liability on the United States Government…for nuclear incidents occurring in connection with the design, construction, or operation of” a nuclear facility in any country which had been identified as a state sponsor of terrorism as of September 11, 2001. This provision cannot be waived, and would remain in effect even if the affected country should someday be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Rep. Markey responded to reports that North Korea may be taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list as part of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, by sending a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking her to answer a series of detailed questions concerning possible nuclear cooperation with North Korea including:

• What specific actions has North Korea taken – in addition to any assurances it may have made – to make itself eligible for removal from the list?
• Will the reported “side deal” on removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism open the door to nuclear cooperation of any kind between the U.S. and North Korea?
• In light of Section 632 of PL 109-58…does the United States intend to allow American-origin nuclear materials or technologies to be reexported or retransferred to North Korea?

“Removing North Korea from this State Department list is much more than a ‘symbolic gesture’ – it could pave the way to allowing new nuclear bomb factories in North Korea,” concluded Rep. Markey. “The Bush Administration has a lot of explaining to do about why it would allow such a thing to happen.”

Rep. Markey's letter to Sec. Rice


October 3, 2007

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