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Fact Sheet on the Proposed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Act of 1977

April 27, 1977

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Act of 1977, the domestic nuclear policies announced by the President on April 7, and the additional policy decisions included in this fact sheet, are key components of the administration's nuclear non-proliferation policy. The President's policy decisions include:

--new conditions we will require for the granting of nuclear export licenses;

--additional new conditions we will require in new U.S. Agreements for Cooperation. These agreements are the formal, bilateral undertakings which form the basis for civil nuclear interactions with other nations;

--policies the executive branch will follow in making recommendations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the export of sensitive items such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium (the weapons usable form of uranium, known as HEU);

--policies the executive branch will follow in deciding whether to approve a request by another nation to retransfer U.S.-supplied fuel to a third nation for reprocessing;

--policies to improve U.S. reliability as a nuclear fuel supplier by introducing greater clarity and predictability into the export licensing process.

Together, all these policies will place the United States in a leadership position among nuclear suppliers, and will establish a strong and effective non-proliferation policy. These policies have been developed, and must be evaluated, as a complete package. They are intended as a delicately balanced blend of:

--Denials for those items, such as reprocessing plants, which we believe create such a large risk that their export should be avoided whenever possible;

--Controls over those items and technologies, required by ongoing programs, where improved safeguards and conditions for physical security will substantially reduce the risk. These controls will be backed up by stiff sanctions which would be imposed on violators;

--Incentives--the United States fully recognizes that there is no such thing as an effective unilateral non-proliferation policy. We must gain the support of other nations--both suppliers and recipients-if we are to reach our common goal of limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. Hence the administration's program includes substantial elements of incentives, particularly in the areas of: uranium resource assessment; guaranteed access to non-sensitive, low enriched uranium (LEU) nuclear fuel; and spent fuel storage.

The following are key features of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Act of 1977, and related administration policies.

1. The bill establishes for the first time a statutory requirement forbidding the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from granting a license to export nuclear materials or facilities until it has been notified by the executive branch of its judgment that the issuance of a license "will not be inimicable to the common defense and security." This judgment will be reached by the Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Energy Research and Development Administration.

In arriving at these judgments, the executive branch will adhere to the following policies not detailed in the act.
--continue to embargo the export of enrichment and reprocessing plants;

--avoid new commitments to export significant amounts of separated plutonium except for gram quantities for research and analytical uses;

--avoid new commitments to export significant quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) except when the project is of exceptional merit and the use of low enriched fuel or some other less weapons usable material is clearly shown to be technically infeasible;
--require direct Presidential approval for any supply of HEU greater than 15 kilograms (the approximate amount needed for a bomb);
--undertake efforts to identify projects and facilities which might be converted to the use of LEU instead of HEU;
--take steps to minimize inventories of weapons usable uranium abroad. 2. The bill defines the immediate nuclear export conditions which we can reasonably expect other nations to meet while we negotiate stricter agreements for cooperation. These conditions include:

--A requirement for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all exported items and on any other plutonium or enriched uranium that might be used in the exported facility or produced through its use.
--A requirement that no U.S. export be used for research or production of any nuclear explosive device.
--A requirement that no U.S. export be retransfered by a recipient nation to any other nation without the prior approval of the United States.
--A requirement that no fuel exported from the United States be reprocessed without the prior approval of the United States.

These criteria differ from proposals currently before Congress which include criteria that could force an immediate moratorium on U.S. nuclear exports. Such a moratorium would seriously damage U.S. relations with certain. allies whose cooperation is essential if we are to achieve our non-proliferation objectives.

3. The bill defines additional nuclear export conditions which will be required in new agreements for cooperation. These include:
--A requirement, in the case of nonnuclear weapons states, that IAEA safeguards cover all nuclear materials and equipment regardless of whether these have been supplied by the United States. Fulfillment of this requirement will be a condition of continuing U.S. nuclear supply.

The President has also directed that this requirement be viewed only as an interim measure, and that the United States' first preference, and continuing objective, is universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

--The stipulation that United States cooperation under the agreement shall cease if the recipient detonates a nuclear device or materially violates IAEA safeguards or any guarantee it has given under the agreement.

--A requirement for IAEA safeguards on all U.S.-supplied material and equipment for indefinite duration, whether or not the Agreement for Cooperation remains in force.

--The U.S. right of approval on retransfers extended to all special nuclear material produced through the use of U.S. equipment.

--The U.S. right of approval on reprocessing extended to all special nuclear material produced through use of U.S. equipment.

4. For the near future, the bill proposes to tighten the conditions for U.S. nuclear cooperation through the renegotiation of existing agreements to meet the same standards as those we will require for new agreements (as specified in 3 above). This approach will better meet U.S. nonproliferation objectives than would an attempt to impose unilaterally new export licensing conditions.

5. The bill provides the flexibility needed to deal with the many different situations and nations involved. For example, it makes the necessary exceptions for licenses under existing multilateral agreements. It also establishes an efficient mechanism for the President and Congress to review cases where the executive branch and the independent NRC differ on the granting of a proposed export license. And it permits the President to grant exceptions from the stiff new conditions required for new agreements for cooperation, if he considers that this is in our overall non-proliferation interest.

6. The bill creates sanctions against the violation of nuclear agreements by providing that no nuclear export shall be granted to any non-nuclear weapons state that, after enactment of this legislation:
--detonates a nuclear explosive device; --terminates or abrogates IAEA safeguards;
--is found by the President to have materially violated an IAEA agreement or any other guarantee it has given under an agreement for cooperation with the United States;
unless the President determines that such a cutoff would hinder the achievement of U.S. non-proliferation objectives, or would jeopardize the common defense and security.

7. The legislation proposes the establishment of an international Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation Program, aimed at furthering the development of alternative, nuclear fuel cycles which do not provide access to weapons usable material, as announced by the President in his April 7 statement.

8. As an essential element of the international evaluation program, the legislation proposes a number of policies to assure that adequate nuclear fuel supply will be available to all nations as a nonproliferation incentive. These include:
--A policy to assure adequate U.S. uranium enrichment capacity;
--A policy assuring that nuclear exports will be licensed on a timely basis once statutory requirements are met;
--U.S. initiatives to promote international consultations to develop multilateral means for meeting worldwide nuclear fuel needs.

The bill further requires the President to report to the Congress on the progress of these discussions and to propose any legislation he may consider necessary to promote these objectives.

9. The bill commits the United States to work with other nations to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through: contribution of technical resources, support and funding; improving the IAEA safeguards system; and, by assuring that IAEA receives the data needed for it to administer an effective, comprehensive international safeguards program.

Jimmy Carter, Fact Sheet on the Proposed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy Act of 1977 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243698

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