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Statement of Administration Policy: S. 1128 - Omnibus Nuclear Proliferation Control Act of 1991

March 20, 1992


(Glenn (D) Ohio and 14 others)

The Administration supports the objective of S. 1128 — to prevent the proliferation of nuclear explosive devices and unsafeguarded special nuclear material. The Administration will work with Congress to develop a mutually satisfactory bill. However, the current bill contains several objectionable provisions that need to be modified or deleted before the Administration can support the legislation.

In particular, the following sections need to be deleted or modified:

—   Section 7, which would require unilateral imposition of sanctions against foreign nations that carry out specified activities. These activities relate to the transfer or receipt of "a nuclear explosive device, any design information, or any component specially designed or prepared for use in such a device . . This section fails to provide necessary Presidential discretion and could violate our obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the GATT Agreement on Government Procurement. At a minimum, the sanctions provided in this section should be imposed only after a presidential determination that a country has engaged in any of the listed activities, and should be subject to a workable presidential waiver. In addition, the terms "design information" and "components specially designed and prepared" are overly broad in scope and could have unintended consequences.

—   Section 2(a), which calls for a determination by the President to impose sanctions on foreign or U.S. firms who knowingly and materially contribute through the export of any goods or technology to certain proscribed nuclear activities. The term "any goods or technology" is too broad and could undermine U.S. cooperation with supplier nations and disrupt efforts to improve and expand multilateral nuclear export controls. Likewise, "knowingly" is defined in a manner that is too vague to provide a meaningful standard to trigger sanctions.

—   Section 2(d), which would put the President in the unacceptable situation of vouching for the future conduct of established violators.

—   Sections 2(b)(3), 3(a), and 7(b), which raise constitutional concerns. These provisions require the President to report on the status of negotiations and the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct directors of international financial institutions to vote in a specified manner.

—   Section 11, which defines "nuclear explosive device." There is no demonstrable need for this definition and it could result in an inconsistency with the use of the term in international treaties.

—   Section 9, which requires reports on "commitments" and "diplomatic demarches" relating to nuclear proliferation. These requirements would intrude impermissibly on the President's constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy and communicate privately with foreign governments. Further, the term "commitments" is defined in an unreasonably broad fashion.

—   Section 6(b), which would change the standards for receiving U.S. assistance and could hinder ongoing diplomatic initiatives to seek a regional solution to nuclear proliferation in South Asia.

George Bush, Statement of Administration Policy: S. 1128 - Omnibus Nuclear Proliferation Control Act of 1991 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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