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Export of Special Nuclear Material and Components to India Message to the Congress.

June 19, 1980

To the Congress of the United States:

I am transmitting with this message, pursuant to Section 126b. (2) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, an Executive Order authorizing the export of 39,718 kgs. of low-enriched uranium to India for use in fueling its Taraput Atomic Power Station and authorizing the export of replacement parts for this station.

Two applications for licenses to export the fuel were submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in September 1978 and August 1979 respectively. After a careful review of these applications, and the applications for replacement parts for the Tarapur reactors, the Executive Branch concluded that the proposed exports would not be inimical to the common defense and security, that they met all applicable statutory criteria under the Atomic Energy Act, and that the licenses should be issued. The Commission was notified of these Executive Branch findings and recommendations on March 28, 1979, and on May 7, 1980.

On May 16, 1989, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided that it could not find that the criteria for issuing the licenses had been met. Pursuant to the law, the Commission then referred these applications to me.

In reaching its decision, the Commission argued that the full-scope safeguards export criterion of Section 128a of the Atomic Energy Act applies to these applications because they do not fall within the grace period provided in the law. The Department of State, on the other hand, concludes that this statutory criterion does not apply to these two applications because they were submitted before September 10, 1979, the cutoff date specified in the law, because the first shipment under each was reasonably planned to occur before March 10, 1980, and because there is no reason to believe that the applications were filed early as a way of circumventing the September 10, 1979, deadline.

In any event, the license criteria specified by statute, of which Section 128a is one, are not the same as the export criteria on the basis of which I must determine whether to issue an Executive Order. As the Commission noted, its inability to issue the licenses "should not be read as a recommendation one way or the other on the proposed exports." As the Commission noted further, in such cases the law provides that the President may authorize such exports by Executive Order if he determines that withholding them would be seriously prejudicial to the achievement of United States non-proliferation objectives or would otherwise jeopardize the common defense and security.

I have determined that to withhold these exports would be seriously prejudicial to the achievement of United States non-proliferation objectives and would otherwise jeopardize the common defense and security. I have made this determination for the policy reasons discussed below. However, I want to make it clear that I do in fact regard these export applications as having fallen within the statutory grace period before the full-scope safeguards requirement of action 128a takes effect. Thus, my authorization of these exports does not constitute a precedent for an exception to the full-scope safeguards criterion. Further, this action in no way indicates a change in the high priority I attach to preventing the spread of nuclear explosives. On the contrary, this action reflects my judgment that non-proliferation would be set back, not advanced, by withholding these exports, and that our failure to supply this fuel could seriously jeopardize other important U.S. interests.

India's failure to accept international safeguards on all its peaceful nuclear activities and its failure to commit itself not to conduct further nuclear explosions are of serious concern to me. These exports will help us to maintain a dialogue with India in which we try to narrow our differences on these issues.

The exports will avoid the risk of a claim by India that the United States has broken an existing agreement between the two governments and has thereby relieved India of its obligation to refrain from re. processing the fuel previously supplied by the United States.

Supply of this fuel will also ensure the continuation of safeguards and other U.S. controls on disposition of U.S.-origin fuel that has been supplied to India.

Approval of these exports will help strengthen ties with a key South Asian democracy at a time when it is particularly important for us to do so. Insecurity in South and Southwest Asia has been greatly heightened by the crisis in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We must do all we reasonably can to promote stability in the area and to bolster our relations with states there, particularly those that can play a role in checking Soviet expansionism.

When I signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, I expressed reservations about the constitutionality of provisions of law which purport to allow the Congress to overturn my decisions by actions not subject to my veto power. In transmitting this Executive Order, I also want to make it clear that I am not departing from those reservations.


The White House,

June 19, 1980.

Jimmy Carter, Export of Special Nuclear Material and Components to India Message to the Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251117

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