An Evaluation of the Administration's Proposed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Strategy

ID-77-53: Published: Oct 4, 1977. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 1977.

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Although nuclear power can lead to energy independence, it also holds the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. In an effort to curtail such proliferation, legislation has been proposed which will exact stricter export controls and safeguards on actions affecting uranium enrichment services, reprocessing, storing of spent fuel, and disposing of radioactive nuclear wastes. Although the policy is generally constructive, some weaknesses were noted.

The Administration's proposal for overcoming problems in international safeguards does not cover nontechnical areas such as financing and ensuring implementation of the safeguards. The actions proposed for ensuring a reliable supplier posture for the United States are sound, but the decisions to use a new enrichment technology and to charge substantially higher prices could possibly work against reaching nuclear nonproliferation goals. Questions about financial and managerial arrangements for future enrichment facilities are the most important problems that could discredit the United States as a long-term supplier. If the centrifuge process does not work, it will hamper U.S. credibility. Gaining control over foreign spent fuel might be an effective way of controlling proliferation, but not until the problem of how to store it is solved.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should: (1) require that new agreements demand adherence to nonproliferation policies; (2) allow residual U.S. safeguard rights over U.S. material; (3) permit no transfer of U.S. sensitive nuclear technology; and (4) establish a specific time-frame for the upgrading of existing agreements. Congress should provide no additional special funding for the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards without the assurance from the Departments of State and Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the Agency can use the money effectively. Congress should determine, before enacting legislation, whether permitting a substantial increase in enrichment services prices will affect the nonproliferation goals. Congress should closely supervise the new centrifuge plant and conduct a financial and management study on future enrichment plants. The Departments of Energy and State and NRC should consult with Congress on the development of a U.S. policy on the disposition of U.S.-supplied foreign spent fuel.


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