Senators Menendez and Graham present a new resolution in favor of the creation of a regional nuclear fuel bank to avoid the arms race in the Middle East
February 11, 2022
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (DN.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committeeand Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) introduced a Senate resolution in favor of a new diplomatic approach to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions and avoid a destabilizing arms race in the Middle East. The bipartisan resolution calls on the United States government to adopt a policy allowing any state in the Middle East to have access to nuclear fuel if it renounces uranium enrichment and reprocessing. Modeled on the existing nuclear fuel bank created by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the creation of a regional fuel bank supported by the resolution would enable the commercial development of nuclear energy throughout the region while eliminating the need for hazardous fuels and destabilizing national nuclear programs.
Furthermore, the bipartisan resolution makes it clear that a commitment by Iran to end its enrichment program should be accompanied by a commitment by the United States to provide sanctions relief beyond the measures contained in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This should include the end of certain “primary” sanctions, if any. Further US sanctions should remain in place until Iran verifiably ceases other malign activities, including support for terrorism, human rights abuses, hostage-taking and destabilizing activities. In the region.
“It has become increasingly clear in recent weeks that Iran’s dangerous and rapidly escalating nuclear program has put it on the verge of having enough material for a nuclear weapon,” he said. he adds. said President Menendez. “A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to US interests and trigger a nuclear arms race in an already conflict-ridden region. This resolution demonstrates that there is bipartisan support for a broader regional diplomatic approach to addressing Iran’s nuclear program from a regional perspective that emphasizes norms that would allow the Persian Gulf and other Middle Eastern states to enjoy the benefits of nuclear energy without fueling nuclear proliferation. As the authors of the sanctions regime that isolated Iran from international financial markets and brought it to the negotiating table in the first place, we believe that this new compromise can provide Iran with appropriate sanctions relief. while opening the doors to definitively resolve this nuclear crisis once and for all.
“I strongly support a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue,” said Senator Graham. “Our proposal would allow Iran and other countries in the Middle East to purchase low-enriched uranium (LEU) from a regional fuel bank or supply LEU from an existing fuel bank outside the Middle East. The objective of our proposal is to ensure that these Middle Eastern states, including Iran, have access to fuel to power their commercial reactors. There is no reason to enrich uranium if your goal is to have peaceful nuclear energy. I believe this proposal will be welcomed by our allies in the region and should be welcomed by Iran if peaceful nuclear energy is really what they desire.
A copy of the senators’ resolution can be found HERE. Specific provisions of the resolution include:
- Support for the establishment of a new regional nuclear fuel bank for the Middle East, or modification and expansion of the existing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear fuel bank, in coordination with others international actors.
- Call on the United States to guarantee that any Middle Eastern state that forgoes uranium enrichment and reprocessing on its territory would be able to purchase fuel for its commercial nuclear reactors from the International Fuel Bank nuclear.
- Encourage the Biden administration to negotiate bilateral and multilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with various states in the Middle East, which include the adoption of the IAEA’s additional protocols and a commitment by states to refrain from uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel.
- Recognition that the United States should provide sanctions relief beyond those agreed to in the JCPOA, if Iran agreed to forgo uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel. This should include the lifting of certain “primary” US sanctions, if any.
- Insist that other US sanctions must remain in place until Iran ceases its malign activities, including support for terrorism, human rights abuses, hostage-taking and destabilizing activities In the region.