Section 123 Nuclear Agreement

The nuclear expansion program in the People`s Republic of China is the most aggressive in the world. Although 26 power plants operating in China currently account for less than 2% of the country`s electricity generation capacity, the Rpc has 23 additional reactors under construction and plans to build up to 100 additional reactors by 2030.14 By comparison, the United States has 99 power reactors as of June 2015. A 123 agreement sets out the conditions under which the United States can enter into significant nuclear cooperation with another country. For example, U.S. companies are generally not allowed to export equipment and materials without an agreement (or bilateral agreement) in place. This agreement is, under Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, described as an agreement of 123. It is officially called the U.S. bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation.

(Underscoring the word “peace”!) The civil nuclear cooperation agreements under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (123 agreements) were originally conceived by President Eisenhower as a way for the United States to project influence around the world, while protecting and regulating the proliferation of nuclear weapons without adequate safeguards. This task became even more important when it felt that the Soviet Union wanted to use the export of its nuclear technology to gain influence abroad at the expense of the United States. Paragraph 102 (a) of CISADA prohibits the issuance of nuclear material export licences under an agreement on 123 for any country whose nationals have engaged in activities with Iran in connection with the acquisition or development of nuclear weapons or related technologies or missiles or other advanced conventional weapons designed or modified to provide a nuclear weapon.” The President may waive this provision by informing the relevant congressional committees that the country did not know the activity or had no reason to know the activity, or if the country “takes all reasonable measures” to prevent a re-offending and punish the person concerned. The President first referred to China`s “ambitious plans” for “a considerable number of nuclear power plants”. He referred to China`s steps to “clarify” its policy of non-proliferation and nuclear export, including Prime Minister Zhao`s statement, but Reagan did not mention the prC`s practices. He referred to bilateral “discussions” and not statements or agreements and stated that “we can wait” for China`s policy of not assisting a non-nuclear weapons state to acquire nuclear explosives to be implemented in a manner consistent with basic non-proliferation practices. Finally, in 2009, the United States negotiated and signed new agreements with the United Arab Emirates (known for the “gold standard”) and Vietnam in 2014 and signed new agreements in 2010 with Australia, Taiwan in 2013 (which also included “gold standard” provisions), China and South Korea in 2015 and Norway in 2016. The “gold standard” provisions concern a country that declares itself ready to forego the enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear materials. In 2006, Congress passed the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act, which amends the AEA to allow for nuclear cooperation with India, a country that is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has no comprehensive security.