Obama proposes nuclear cooperation between USA and China

22 April 2015

Barack Obama has issued a presidential determination, published in the Federal Register yesterday, on a proposed agreement for cooperation between the USA and China concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

A presidential determination is a document issued by the White House stating a determination resulting in an official policy or position of the executive branch of the US government. Presidential determinations may involve any number of actions, including setting or changing foreign policy.

"I have determined that the performance of the agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defence and security," Obama wrote. "I hereby approve the proposed agreement and authorize the Secretary of State to arrange for its execution."

In a statement to the US Congress yesterday and published by the White House the same day, Obama said the proposed agreement had been negotiated in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and other applicable laws.

"In my judgment, it meets all applicable statutory requirements and will advance the nonproliferation and other foreign policy interests of the United States," he said.

The proposed agreement provides a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation with China based on a mutual commitment to nuclear nonproliferation. It would permit the transfer of material, equipment (including reactors), components, information, and technology for nuclear research and nuclear power production. It does not permit transfers of any restricted data. Transfers of sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, and major critical components of such facilities may only occur if the agreement is amended to cover such transfers. In the event of termination, key nonproliferation conditions and controls continue with respect to material, equipment, and components subject to the agreement.

It would obligate the USA and China to work together "to enhance their efforts to familiarize commercial entities in their respective countries about the requirements of the agreement as well as national export controls and policies applicable to exports and imports subject to the agreement", Obama said.

It would have a term of 30 years from the date of its entry into force. Either party may terminate the proposed agreement on at least one year's written notice to the other party.

Obama noted that, since the 1980s, China has become a party to several nonproliferation treaties and conventions and worked to bring its domestic export control authorities in line with international standards. China joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1992 as a nuclear weapon state, brought into force an Additional Protocol to its International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement in 2002, and joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2004. China is a party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which establishes international standards of physical protection for use, storage, and transport of nuclear material, and has ratified the 2005 Amendment to the Convention.

"A more detailed discussion of China's civil nuclear program and its nuclear nonproliferation policies and practices, including its nuclear export policies and practices, is provided in the NPA [Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement] and in two classified annexes to the NPAS submitted to [Congress] separately," Obama said. The Director of National Intelligence will provide an addendum to the NPAS containing a comprehensive analysis of the export control system of China with respect to nuclear-related matters, he added.

The US Administration is prepared to begin immediately consultations with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Obama said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News