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US - UAE Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, Under Secretary for Arms Control
and International Security Ellen Tauscher testimony, 8 July 2009
Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States
of America and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Peaceful
Uses of Nuclear Energy Ellen Tauscher Under Secretary for Arms Control
and International Security Statement before the House Foreign Affairs
Committee Washington, DC, 8 July 2009.
Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member:
Thank you for this opportunity to testify today before the House Foreign
Affairs Committee in support of the proposed U.S.-UAE Agreement for Peaceful
Nuclear Cooperation, which President Obama submitted to the Congress on
May 21 for review pursuant to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of
1954, as amended. This important Agreement reinforces a particularly strong
and mutually beneficial political, security, and economic bilateral relationship.
The UAE is a valued partner on many issues, cooperating with us in such
areas as support for the Palestinian Authority, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Iraq, and Iran.
In connection with approving the proposed Agreement and authorizing its
execution, the President made the determination required by section 123
of the Atomic Energy Act that performance of the proposed Agreement will
promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense
My purpose today is to discuss with the Committee the principal factors
that the President considered before making his statutory determination,
and to urge Congress to give the proposed Agreement favorable consideration.
A Ground-breaking Achievement
Let me say at the outset that the Administration recognizes the nonproliferation
value of this unique Agreement. The UAE has made a principled decision
that it will abide by the highest nonproliferation standards. The U.S.-UAE
123 Agreement recognizes these commitments and achievements of the government
of the United Arab Emirates and provides the basis to expand now our cooperation
into areas of peaceful nuclear energy.
Consistent with the UAE’s commitments to the highest nonproliferation
standards, the proposed Agreement contains some unprecedented features
for agreements of this type. For the first time in an agreement of this
type, the UAE has voluntarily agreed to forgo enrichment and reprocessing.
For the first time in a U.S. agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation,
the proposed Agreement provides that prior to U.S. licensing of exports
of nuclear material, equipment, components, or technology pursuant to
the Agreement, the UAE shall bring into force the Additional Protocol
to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The Agreement also allows for
exceptional circumstances, under which the United States may remove special
fissionable material subject to the Agreement from the UAE either to the
United States or to a third country if exceptional circumstances of concern
from a nonproliferation standpoint so require.
The proposed Agreement has a term of 30 years and permits the transfer
of nuclear material, equipment (including reactors), and components for
civil nuclear research and civil nuclear power production subject to subsequent
individual export licensing. It does not permit transfers of Restricted
Data, sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, or major
critical components of such facilities. It limits the special fissionable
material that may be transferred under the Agreement to low enriched uranium
except for small amounts of special fissionable material for use as samples,
standards, detectors, targets or other purposes agreed by the Parties.
If the Agreement is terminated, key nonproliferation conditions and controls
will continue with respect to material, equipment, and components subject
to the Agreement.
In sum, the robust nonproliferation features of the UAE 123 Agreement
is a significant achievement and an example of a country that has concluded
that indigenous fuel cycle capabilities are not needed to fully enjoy
the benefits of civil nuclear energy.
Mr. Chairman, please let me expand on some of the key points I have just
Once the proposed Agreement enters into force, it will establish the necessary
legal framework for the United States and the UAE to engage in subsequent,
individually-authorized forms of cooperation in the development of nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes to assist the UAE in meeting its growing
energy demand. In addition to being indicative of our strong partnership
with the UAE, the proposed Agreement is a tangible expression of the United
States’ desire to cooperate with states in the Middle East, and
elsewhere, that want to develop peaceful nuclear power in a manner consistent
with the highest nonproliferation, safety and security standards.
The UAE’s Strong Nonproliferation Credentials
I have spoken of the UAE’s commitment to the highest nonproliferation
standards. I shall summarize the UAE’s strong nonproliferation credentials
in a checklist form:
- The UAE acceded to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) on September
26, 1995 and its IAEA Safeguards Agreement entered into force on October
9, 2003. It has signed the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement
with the IAEA and is committed to bringing it into force.
- The UAE ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear
Material on November 15, 2003 and has committed to concluding the 2005
Amendment strengthening the Convention.
- It acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts
of Nuclear Terrorism on January 10, 2008.
- The UAE is implementing UNSC 1540 – a resolution that, among
other things, requires UN Member States to take and enforce effective
measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related
- UAE Federal Law 13 issued in 2007 provides a strong basis on which
to build an effective export control system for commodities that are
subject to import and export control procedures.
- The UAE actively participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear
Terrorism, the Proliferation Security Initiative, and the Container
- The UAE is a key counterterrorism partner and actively works to combat
money laundering and terrorist financing.
- The UAE has stated it intends to implement export and import control
rules for nuclear and nuclear-related equipment and technology in strict
accordance with the Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines for nuclear transfers.
This will enhance the UAE’s export control system and assist its
government in preventing illicit transshipments of sensitive nuclear
technologies through the UAE.
In March 2008, the United Arab Emirates published its policy for the
development of nuclear energy in a report entitled, “Policy of the
United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful
Nuclear Energy.” In it, the UAE committed itself inter alia
to “pursuing the highest standards of nonproliferation” and
“the highest standards of safety and security.” In signing
this Agreement, the UAE has demonstrated its commitment to develop civil
nuclear energy in a responsible way, in full conformity with its nonproliferation
commitments and obligations. U.S. cooperation with the UAE will also serve
as a distinct counterpoint to those countries that have chosen a different
path, in particular Iran.
The UAE’s expressed commitment not to pursue enrichment and reprocessing
capabilities is a marked contrast to Iran, which continues to defy its
international obligations and is continuing to develop technical capabilities
that could be applied to nuclear weapons development. .
The UAE recognizes the value of international cooperation for establishing
a nuclear power program as well as the need to develop domestic human
resources. The UAE is expected to hire a foreign consortium to construct,
operate and perhaps partially own its first nuclear power plants while
local expertise is developed. U.S. industry is poised to assist with the
development of a nuclear power program in the UAE, and the Agreement for
Cooperation will facilitate its involvement. U.S. technology in this area
is leading-edge, and the United States anticipates that the UAE will give
it strong consideration as the UAE moves forward in implementing its plans.
U.S. Prior Approval for Retransfers
The Agreed Minute to the proposed Agreement provides U.S. prior approval
for retransfers by the UAE of irradiated nuclear material subject to France
and the United Kingdom, if consistent with their respective policies,
laws, and regulations. Such retransfers would provide the UAE opportunities
for management of its spent fuel, subject to specified conditions, including
that prior agreement between the United States and the UAE is required
for the transfer to the UAE of any special fissionable material recovered
from any such reprocessing. Plutonium recovered from reprocessing could
not be returned under the Agreement (with the exception of small quantities
for the uses described above, but even then only with the further agreement
of the Parties). The transferred material would also have to be held within
the European Atomic Energy Community subject to the Agreement for Cooperation
in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between the United States of America
and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM).
In view of the fact that this retransfer consent would constitute a subsequent
arrangement under the Act if agreed to separately from the proposed Agreement,
the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Energy have ensured that the
advance approval provisions meet the applicable requirements of section
131 of the Atomic Energy Act. Specifically, they have concluded that U.S.
advance approval for retransfer of nuclear material for reprocessing or
storage contained in the Agreed Minute to the proposed Agreement is not
inimical to the common defense and security. An analysis of the advance
approval given in the Agreed Minute is contained in the Nuclear Proliferation
Assessment Statement (NPAS) submitted to Congress with the Agreement.
For all the above reasons I would ask the Committee, and the Congress,
to consider the proposed Agreement on its own merits. It is, in some ways,
a ground-breaking agreement. It contains all the necessary nonproliferation
conditions and controls that Congress has written into law. It does not
commit either Party to transfer any nuclear commodities, technology or
services to the other. Those are decisions for the future and will be
handled on a case-by-case basis according to the usual stringent U.S.
licensing procedures. As President Obama determined, the Agreement will
promote, and not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense
and security. By signing this Agreement, the United States and the UAE
have taken an important step in building a long and mutually beneficial
partnership to enhance nonproliferation and energy security in the region.
The proposed Agreement deserves the support of the Congress.
Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, thank you.
Source: US Department of State, www.state.gov.
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