February 7, 2007

Contact: Lynne Weil, 202-225-5021

Chairman Lantos to Introduce the “International Nuclear Fuel for Peace and Nonproliferation Act”

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today will introduce legislation to support the creation of an international nuclear fuel bank so that any country seeking to develop peaceful nuclear power-producing capability will not have to enrich uranium.

“This bank will ensure that any state that keeps its nuclear nonproliferation commitments can get the fuel it needs without establishing its own fuel production facilities,” Lantos said at a hearing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, noting that such a ready source of fuel would undercut Iran’s insistence on enriching uranium, ostensibly for peaceful purposes.

“If Iran’s nuclear program is truly peaceful, Tehran should welcome an opportunity to ensure a stable supply of nuclear fuel from an internationally-supported nuclear fuel bank located in a safe nation,” he said. “If Iran is instead building a nuclear weapon, its nefarious intentions will be quickly exposed should it refuse to participate in this important project.”

Since 1945, it has been U.S. policy to try to prevent an increase in the number of states that possess nuclear weapons and the means to create them, because such weapons production makes the world less secure. The same is true for the technology used to produce both nuclear reactor fuel and nuclear weapons material, particularly uranium enrichment.

The Lantos “International Nuclear Fuel for Peace and Nonproliferation Act” addresses this general proliferation problem – and removes Iranian pretexts for its own “peaceful” enrichment plant – by promoting the development of international nuclear fuel production centers under multilateral control and direction. It also supports the establishment of an independent international nuclear fuel bank that would guarantee reactor fuel to countries that forgo their own enrichment plants and are in good standing with existing international nuclear safeguards commitments, should there be a disruption in the world’s supply of uranium fuel.

The bill authorizes $50 million to support the establishment of an IAEA International Nuclear Fuel Bank. This money would match $50 Million offered by the Nuclear Threat Initiative for the same purposes. These funds, however, would only be available for two years, pending another $50 million pledged from other sources. They could only be used for the creation of a bank that would supply fuel to countries that are in full compliance with their international nuclear safeguards agreements and do not operate uranium enrichment and spent-fuel reprocessing facilities.