CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 6411 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, November 30, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced on November 16, 2010, by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
H.R. 6411 would provide for the approval of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. It also would waive the required time period for Congressional review under the Atomic Energy Act.
On May 5, 2010, the U.S. and Australia signed a new agreement concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The new agreement replaces an existing 1979 agreement that expires in January 2011. The agreement provides a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation with Australia based on a mutual commitment to nuclear nonproliferation. The agreement has an initial term of 30 years from the date of its entry into force, and will continue in force thereafter for additional periods of five years each, unless terminated by either party on six months' advance written notice at the end of the initial 30-year term or at the conclusion of any of the additional five year periods.
The agreement does not permit transfers of restricted data, sensitive nuclear technology, sensitive nuclear facilities, or major critical components of such facilities.
The Atomic Energy Act requires that a proposed nuclear cooperation agreement be submitted to Congress for a review period of 90 days of continuous session, after which it automatically goes into effect unless both houses of Congress have voted to disapprove it. The Australia agreement was submitted to Congress on May 5, 2010, but subsequent changes in the announced House schedule created the possibility that Congress might adjourn before the 90-day deadline was met. Thus, H.R. 6411 waives the 90-day requirement for the agreement.
Australia sells around 36 percent of its $1 billion in uranium exports to the U.S. The U.S. is also a major processor of Australian uranium sold to other countries. Australia is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It has concluded a Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not produced a cost estimate for this bill as of press time.