WASHINGTON, D.C.—Continuing to push for legislation introduced unsuccessfully in earlier Congresses, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., has introduced a measure requiring that, as a condition of civil nuclear commerce with the United States, other nations pledge not to develop uranium enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The U.S. nuclear energy industry opposes this legislative proposal. Nuclear Energy Institute’s vice president for policy development, planning and supplier programs, Richard Myers, made the following comments about H.R. 3766.
“H.R. 3766 is misguided legislation that should be shelved. It would reduce U.S. influence on global nuclear security while almost certainly costing Americans thousands of jobs from legitimate commerce with nations peacefully pursuing nuclear energy programs to raise their standard of living.
“If this legislation were enacted, it would further isolate the United States from the growing international marketplace—where our pre-eminence in civilian nuclear technologies has long since faded—by unilaterally establishing new terms for U.S. nuclear energy cooperation and trade that many prospective partner countries have already rejected. In just the past few years, contract awards by Vietnam and Jordan for nuclear energy facilities supplied by Russia and Japan show the folly of H.R. 3766’s paternalistic, one-size-fits-all mandate that sovereign nations forswear uranium enrichment and reprocessing.
“We understand and share concerns about recent developments in Iran, but this proposal will have no impact on Iran’s nuclear program, nor will it establish any disincentives for rogue nations that choose to pursue clandestine nuclear weapons programs. The United States already has a broad set of policy instruments that limit the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies that could be used to develop weapons.
“Contrary to its intended purpose, the bill would degrade our nation’s ability to identify security challenges, because when we lack a commercial presence on the ground the person-to-person contacts and other controls that enable identification of potential red flags don’t exist. Safety can suffer because the high standards that are the hallmark of U.S. commercial entities, in personnel and technology, may not be equaled by non-U.S. suppliers.
“The U.S. economy suffers, in that every $1 billion in U.S. exports in this area supports 5,000 to 10,000 jobs. Given that the international market for nuclear energy equipment and services is estimated at $500 billion to $740 billion over just the next 10 years, the potential economic hit on the American people is staggering.
“More than 70 nuclear energy facilities are being built worldwide, and nearly 200 more are planned or on order, as nations strive to grow their economies and raise their standard of living with reliable supplies of low-carbon electricity. Surely Congress does not want to drive prospective trade partners into commerce with other nations. This legislation should be defeated.”