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Legislative Alert - Iran, Russia, the WTO, and the US
24 March 2007
Legislative Alert - Iran, Russia, the WTO, and the US

The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007

A bipartisan group of Senators led by Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced yesterday the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 (S. 970) which, if passed, could seriously impact Russia’s WTO accession, halt positive cooperation in the nuclear area, and present a new strain in U.S.-Russia relations. The bill’s introduction ironically coincided with an appeal by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, that the pressure of any legislative sanctions be focused on Iran itself.

The Smith-Durbin bill - which is co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman (ID-CT), Coleman (R-MN), Brownback (R-KS), Bayh (D-IN), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Thune (R-SD), Kyl (R-AZ), Mikulski (D-MD), and Menendez (D-NJ) - would target Russia in connection with its nuclear assistance and/or transfer of weapons to Iran.

Specifically, the bill would:

  1. Prevent USTR or any other Federal official from taking any action that would extend preferential trade treatment to, or lead to the WTO accession of “any country that is determined by the Secretary of State to be engaged in nuclear cooperation with Iran, including the transfer or sale of any item, material, goods, or technology that can contribute to the uranium enrichment or nuclear reprocessing activities of Iran or contributing to the ballistic missile programs of Iran.” and
  2. Until the President determines that Russia has suspended all nuclear assistance and transfers of advanced conventional weapons and missiles to Iran, would
    • Prevent the U.S. from entering into an agreement for cooperation with Russia pursuant to Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (“the Act”);
    • Prevent the U.S. from issuing licenses to export nuclear material, facilities or components subject to the Act; and
    • Prevent the U.S. from approving the transfer or retransfer of nuclear material, facilities or components subject to the Act.

As currently drafted, the President would be required to certify that Iran has verifiably dismantled all nuclear enrichment-related and preprocessing-related programs before U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation in this area can go forward.

In introducing the bill yesterday, the bill’s sponsors acknowledged Russia’s recent efforts to begin applying pressure on Iran, but Senator Smith insisted “[W]e must remember that over the past decade, Russia has periodically suspended its nuclear assistance to Iran only to resume this assistance at a later date.”

Legislation introduced by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) earlier this month (H.R. 1400) contains similar language on Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act. It does not contain the WTO provision, however. To date, Lantos’ bill has 60 cosponsors.

Read a summary of the bill here

Read the full text of the bill here

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