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Friday, November 26, 2010

U.S.-Australia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation: Issues for Congress

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Bruce Vaughn
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Australia and the United States have cooperated in the peaceful use of nuclear energy since the mid-1950s. The framework for this cooperation is a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement as required by section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act. President Obama transmitted the proposed text of the latest renewal agreement to Congress on May 5, 2010, along with the required Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) and his determination that the agreement promotes U.S. national security. Congress has 30 days of continuous session for consultations with the Administration, followed by an additional 60 days of continuous session to review the agreement. If not opposed by a joint resolution of disapproval or other legislation, then the agreement will be considered approved at the end of this time period. Congress also has the option of adopting either a joint resolution of approval with (or without) conditions or standalone legislation that could approve or disapprove the agreement.

The United States and Australia first concluded a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement in 1957. That agreement was updated in 1979. Australia sells around 36% of its $1 billion in uranium exports to the United States. The United States is also a major processor of Australian uranium sold to other countries. Australia does not currently possess any nuclear power plants, but it operates one research reactor.

Date of Report: November 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R41312
Price: $29.95

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