At a House Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting 9 September 08 members of Congress discussed what the U.S. response should be to Russia’s aggressive actions in Georgia last month. Most members of the Committee acknowledged that some sort of response was necessary to voice U.S. concerns about the possibility of a more aggressive Russian foreign policy, while they also conceded that the U.S. does need Russia’s cooperation on important matters of international security, such as helping to influence Iran’s nuclear ambitions. An interesting debate is being hosted online on this topic by The Economist – click here to link to it.
In an earlier blog post, arguments were discussed from a 12 June 08 meeting of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for and against the signing of a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement (123 Agreement) with Russia. At the time, the most salient issues were our ability to influence Russia’s position vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the possibility that the 123 Agreement would restart domestic reprocessing, reversing 30 years of US policy. Since then, a full scale military operation has taken place between Russia and Georgia, a newly democratic ally of the U.S. who sent 2,000 troops to support U.S. efforts in Iraq. Now both Russian and American leaders want to remove the 123 Agreement from consideration for the time being, so as not to allow current events to color any debates about passing the legislation. Those in favor of the 123 Agreement believe that it would open up greater cooperation with Russia on issues such as pressuring Iran on its nuclear program. Whether this is true or not, if the 123 Agreement is now off the table because of Russia’s actions in Georgia, how much has this conflict damaged our ability to cooperate with Russia on nuclear arms control in the future? Continue Reading →
On Thursday, June 12 the House Foreign Relations Committee met for over three hours and heard testimony from members of the Committee, a representative of the Bush administration, and expert witnesses regarding the pros and cons of supporting the Agreement Between the United States and Russia for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (Agreement) that President Bush submitted to Congress. As discussed in an earlier blog, the Agreement will have to sit before the Congress for 90 continuous days, and will pass unless Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval. Such legislation, H.J.Res 85, has already been submitted by Congressman Edward J. Markey (D – MA), a staunch opponent to nuclear power and thus to civilian nuclear cooperation agreements. The mood of those legislators at the hearing was generally one of skepticism, as members of Congress searched for reasons to support the Agreement. Continue Reading →