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Adoption of Nuclear Security Pacts Stalls in Senate

“An amendment attached to the legislation by Grassley would also reintroduce a measure to extend federal wiretapping authorities to specifically include investigations related to a nuclear incident.”

( A tool to use against activists ? )

Sept. 27, 2012

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON – A congressional attempt to bring the United States into line with two nuclear security agreements appeared to stall late last week as a Republican senator sought changes to a compliance bill cleared this summer by the House of Representatives.

The proposed updates might prove unacceptable to House lawmakers, preventing approval of the legislation before the current Congress adjourns in January. Meanwhile, a secret GOP hold has prevented the House-approved language from advancing through the Senate, according to a key Democratic lawmaker in that chamber.

The amended version of the bill — put forward on Friday by Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) — would eliminate several alterations House lawmakers made to an earlier Obama administration draft of the legislation. Among other changes, the senator would reinstate language to the House proposal that might allow for the execution of a person convicted of an “act of nuclear terrorism” if it results in death, according to Beth Levine, Grassley’s Judiciary panel spokeswoman.

“The death penalty is something that Senator Grassley and many others thought necessary,” said Levine, who declined to elaborate on the identities or political leanings of others in support of its inclusion in the bill.

An amendment attached to the legislation by Grassley would also reintroduce a measure to extend federal wiretapping authorities to specifically include investigations related to a nuclear incident.


The legislation is intended to ensure the United States meets legal standards required under theInternational Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. The pact, which enteredinto force in 2007 and now has 82 states parties, requires member nations to legally prohibit individuals from holding or using nuclear or radiological weapons, as well as from possessing related materials with the intent of causing death and destruction. It also establishes guidelines for cooperating in the extradition and prosecution of individuals linked to a nuclear plot or threat. The United States remains outside the regime.

The bill would also bring the United States into line with a 2005 amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The amendment updates the original 1980s-era pact governing international shipments of civilian nuclear material to also include standards for securing nonmilitary atomic substances held, used or transferred within a single nation’s borders. The update must be ratified by 97 of the convention’s 145 states parties to take effect; 57 countries had submitted instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval as of Aug. 1, according to a U.N.document.


In a written response to Semmel, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last week said he had unsuccessfully requested unanimous Senate approval of the bill passed on June 28 by the House of Representatives.

The House proposal “has now been cleared by all Senate Democrats,” Leahy wrote in a Sept. 19letter to the Times. “Unfortunately an anonymous Republican hold has been placed on the bill.”

Leahy’s Sept. 12 attempt to “hotline” the bill, had it been successful, would have sent the legislation to the White House for President Obama’s signature without undergoing direct scrutiny by the Senate Judiciary panel.


September 27, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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