Corker: 123 agreements compromise nuclear nonproliferation efforts

Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed concern that civilian nuclear cooperation agreements could compromise U.S. nuclear nonproliferation objectives in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.

Corker took issue with new civilian nuclear cooperation agreements, also called the 123 agreements, because they allow spent nuclear fuel to be enriched and reprocessed.

That provision could contradict the "gold standard" outlined in previous agreements with the United Arab Emirates in which ENR was prohibited to prevent it from being diverted to a weapons program from other civilian nuclear uses.

"The administration's acceptance of ENR capabilities in new agreements with countries where no ENR capability currently exists is inconsistent and confusing, potentially compromising our nation's nonproliferation policies and goals," Corker said. "The absence of a consistent policy weakens our nuclear nonproliferation efforts and sends a mixed message to those nations we seek to prevent from gaining or enhancing such capability and signals to our partners that the 'gold standard' is no standard at all."

Corker called for the full text of a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement that was recently reached with Vietnam as well as accompanying documents and a debriefing before the agreement advances to Congress for approval.