Bill would ensure U.S. nuclear technology is not shared with other nations without consent, requires suspension of agreement if violations found

Washington (May 26, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today introduced legislation, the China Nuclear Cooperation and Nonproliferation Act of 2016, which would tighten regulations on U.S. nuclear exports to China and hold Beijing accountable for any violations of the U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement. Since 1998, the United States has cooperated with China to develop its nuclear energy infrastructure under the terms of our civil nuclear cooperation agreement. Last year, the agreement was rewritten for another 30-year term, but included more permissive provisions that could allow China to stockpile large quantities of nuclear weapons-usable materials and share U.S. nuclear technology with other nations.

China has demonstrated a persistent willingness to steal America’s nuclear secrets, as evidenced by the recent indictment of a Chinese state-owned nuclear company on charges of stealing U.S. reactor technology. China has also failed to live up to its broader nonproliferation commitments, including curtailing economic relations with North Korea, as required by repeated U.N. Security Council Resolutions. This legislation would require nuclear cooperation with China to be suspended if China continues to violate the U.S.-China nuclear cooperationagreement, or fails to comply with its nonproliferation obligations. The billwould prohibit China from re-exporting reactors developed using U.S. technology without U.S. authorization. Congressmen Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Jeff L. Fortenberry (R-Neb.) are introducing a companion bill in the House of Representatives.


“Our nuclear agreement with China will only serve America’s interests if it is accompanied by appropriate restrictions and strong monitoring for violations,” said Senator Markey. “Without these safeguards, transferring nuclear technology to China will jeopardize both United States national security and the global nonproliferation regime. I thank Senator Rubio for his partnership on this legislation, which will ensure China cannot steal U.S. nuclear secrets or divert U.S. nuclear technology to its military.”


“U.S. nuclear cooperation should not enable other countries to expand their military programs,” said Senator Rubio. “If countries try to cheat and divert civilian technology for military purposes, they should not be eligible to receive our nuclear assistance. This legislation will impose important safeguards to ensure that Beijing does not continue to exploit their agreements with us in this area.”


“I support nuclear exports to China, but we cannot simply allow the Chinese to steal our technology or put it to military use,” said Congressman Sherman. “Nor have we taken enough action against the Chinese entities for proliferation to North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.  Overall, the Obama Administration is to be commended for its focus and dedication to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and the materials needed make them. The President has done a lot for nonproliferation, and this legislation is designed to encourage the adoption of a number of policies that he could actually implement with the stroke of a pen. I hope he will give that very strong consideration.”


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.


Specifically, the China Nuclear Cooperation and Nonproliferation Act of 2016:

  • Requires U.S. authorization before China re-exports “U.S.-origin” technology to other countries, and requires the Secretary of Energy to issue a definition of items that fall into this category.
  • Requires the President to determine if China has engaged in various proliferation misbehaviors, including violating the U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement, failing to prevent transfer of proliferation-sensitive items to countries of concern, or failing to enforce sanctions against North Korea.
  • Requires the President, in case such violations occur, to suspend nuclear cooperation until a plan of action to address these behaviors is developed and implemented.
  • Prohibits consent for Chinese reprocessing of U.S. spent nuclear fuel unless the president certifies that fissile material is adequately safeguarded and protected.
  • Expresses the Sense of Congress that the U.S. should discourage countries in East Asia from commencing new spent fuelreprocessing activities of spent fuel.
  • Requires annual reports to Congress on China’s compliance with the current and previous nuclear cooperation agreements, on all export licenses issued under that agreement, and China’s progress in strengthening implementation and enforcement of export control laws on restricted dual-use technology.