In this episode I focus on the "Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006."
1. What's in the Agreement?
2. Who is critical of the agreement and why?
3. The politics behind President Bush's "signing agreement"
4. What it all means to the USA and India
On December 18, 2006 President Bush approved the agreement, HR-5682, which is officially called the ""Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006". If you've been listening to my podcast for a while you'll be familiar with the background of the deal. As early as last winter there was discussion going on at diplomatic levels between
At the time I found it interesting that the press in
The agreement required a change to
Here is a summary of what's in the new agreement:
- The USA-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement allows the
USAto share civilian nuclear equipment, technology and expertise with . This means that US companies will be able to build reactors in India , and will be able to sell nuclear fuel for civilian nuclear plants. India
- In addition, US companies will be able to provide nuclear-related services to
's nuclear energy production facilities. This could represent many billions of dollars of business for US companies. In fact, there have already been at least two groups of industry and political leaders to visit India in recent weeks scouting for potential new business. If you listened to episode 39 you heard Rudy Giuliani mention that he had recently visited India with one such group. India
In exchange for opening the doors for
agreed to separate their military nuclear business from their civilian nuclear plants to ensure that no technology transferred makes its way to military use. India agreed to open their civilian nuclear plants to assessments and intrusive inspections by the IAEA. India will continue their moratorium on atomic weapons testing, and to strengthen the safeguards of their nuclear weapons arsenal. India Indiaand the both agrees to work together to establish a joint ban on production of additional fissile material for weapons. USA
- And finally,
agreed to prevent the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that don't possess them and to support international nonproliferation efforts. India
The deal is drawing fire from communist party members in
Before I discuss Markey's claims, and there might actually be some truth to what he's saying, I want to talk about what happens from here on to put the agreement in motion.
Before the actual sharing of nuclear technology can take place a few things have to happen.
- First, the
USAhas to get the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a collection of nations who possess nuclear enrichment and reactor technology, to make an exception and allow trade with at sounds easy, but in light of the on-going tensions with India. Th Iranand North Koreaabout their nuclear programs the is already being accused of a double standard. In the end the NSG will allow the exception because those nations want a piece of the pie, too. USA Russia, an NSG member is in fact already supplying with fuel for its reactors. The NSG is scheduled to meet in April to discuss the proposal. India
's Parliament will have an opportunity to debate the agreement. Unlike in the India , though, it does not have to pass a vote in the parliament. The debate will give members with dissenting opinions the opportunity to air their differences which the Prime Minister will take into consideration. USA
- Finally, the IAEA has to inspect
's civilian nuclear facilities and deem them safeguarded to prevent proliferation of weapons capable materials and technologies. India
I really have no idea how long all this will take, but I suspect it won't be that long - perhaps several months to a year. In the mean time I expect US and Indian companies to begin the process of negotiating deals for nuclear services, materials, and technology. Here's an interesting thought in that regard. All the focus has been on technology and materials flowing from the UA to
Now I want to discuss President Bush's "signing statement" and allegations by Rep. Edward Markey, but first some legal background on the situation:
When President Bush signed HR-5682 he issued a signing statement that made specific mention of several conditions that Congress added to the bill to strengthen congressional oversight. By the way, I have a copy of the President's signing statement on my web site, and there's a link to that in the show notes, so you can take a look at it yourself. It's less than a page long, so it's not tough get to get through.
- If you read section 103 of the bill, you'll find that it's titled "Statements of Policy" and it consists of about two pages of
foreign policy statements related nuclear energy and non-proliferation. In his signing statement, The President stated that his approval of the bill did not construe adoption of policies described in section 103. The reason: constitutionally the responsibility and authority to develop and implement foreign policy rests in the executive branch of government and not with Congress. I'm not a constitutional attorney, but the President does seem to have a point. US
- Next the bill makes the USA/India deal contingent on approval by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the President took expectation to that statement. His basis for disagreeing is that provision would in effect turn foreign policy decisions of the
over to an International Group, something that is contrary to the constitution. Again, foreign policy is the responsibility of the executive branch of government. As such the President said he would consider that provision of the bill to be "advisory" in nature. USA
- Finally, the bill contains several sections that require the President to regularly report specific information to Congress regarding
's compliance to terms of the agreement. The President stated that because he has the constitutional responsibility to protect information that could damage national security, he would take the release of that information under consideration of the constitutional authority he has to protect and control information that could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties. That means he may choose not to provide Congress with that information if he deems it would impair foreign relations or national security. India
So it's easy to understand why Rep. Markey takes exception to the President's signing statement. He and Tom Harkin worked to place those conditions in the bill to strengthen their ability to oversee foreign policy and monitor
So why all the fuss?
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Have a Happy Hanukah, a Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Links: President Bush's Signing Agreement, HR-5682, full version,