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14. Public participation
The public has no opportunity to participate in the negotiation or administration of agreements for cooperation and limited opportunities for participation in the licensing decisions of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Whether and to what extent such participation is desirable, its advantages and disadvantages, and the nature of information to be made available to the public are controversial questions. Nonetheless, it may be desirable to consider them in the light of recent trends toward openness in government.
The negotiation and administration of agreements for cooperation provide for no public participation nor would they usually be expected to for
subjects of less importance than proliferation of nuclear weapons. Details of foreign relations historically have been kept confidential without public participation. Now the procedures of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
provide for some public participation for decisions on nuclear exports and
the possibility of a hearing before an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. So
far these provisions have been little exercised.
As for documentation for the public, the records of agreements for cooperation are not public documents whereas certain documents appear in
the Commission's dockets for export licenses. These dockets, however,
contain little detailed information or analysis used by the Commission.
Whether there should be expanded opportunity for public participation in arrangements for nuclear cooperation with other nations is a controversial question. It is complicated by the organizational situation in which
two Federal agencies with little history of public participation have the responsibility for negotiation and administration of agreements and an independent regulatory agency with a history of openness acts on export licenses.
Nonetheless, with the present trends toward participatory democracy and openness in government, the matter of public participation may merit atten
* One difficulty encountered in making this study was obtaining complete and authentic texts of many of the agreements for cooperation.
Often a final version had to be assembled by cutting and pasting changes from various documents. So there is some uncertainty that all of thes reconstructions are wholly accurate. Since the agreement documents are comparatively short, it would appear both feasible and desirable to republish complete, authentic texts for revised agreements, and to reissue a complete text whenever an agreement is modified in the future.
II. PURPOSE, APPROACH AND INFORMATION SOURCES
The Senate Committee on Government Operations requested the Congressional Research Service to prepare a background report on U.S. agreements
for cooperation in atomic energy, more commonly known as bi-lateral agree
The purpose of the report is to provide background information for
hearings on S. 1439, The Export Reorganization Act of 1976, which proposes
to revise Federal organization and control for U.S. nuclear exports.
The report describes the origins of the present web of U.S. bilateral
agreements, identifies and discusses features relevant to limiting the further proliferation of nuclear weapons among nations of the world, describes
similarities and differences of several kinds of bilateral agreements, and
concludes with a statement of observations and issues for further congres
The report is based upon the examination of 32 agreements for co
operation with foreign nations and international organizations plus a review
of information previously presented to Congress and to the public on the ne
gotiation, administration and use of these agreements.
The approach is
comparative, seeking to point out salient features, similarities and differ
ences, and to indicate the significance of some of these features to the or
ganization and management of nuclear exports under new organizational re
lationships established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974.
Sources of information include the texts of the agreements, and hearings
before the Senate Committee on Government Operations, the House Commit
tee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and the House Committee on International
While the authors have had a few contacts with the Energy Re
search and Development Administration and with the Department of State,
these contacts have been deliberately minimized in preference to use of
the public record and information generally available to the public, parti
cularly the texts of the agreements.
Any consequent gaps in this analysis
with respect to the changing role of agreements for cooperation, their uses, their limitations, and their relevance to the troublesome issue of proliferation of nuclear weapons among the nations of the world can be corrected
by the agencies concerned in their appearances before the Committee.
III. BILATERAL AGREEMENTS: WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY?
The fundamental mechanism for international nuclear cooperation between the United States and other nations or international organizations is an Agreement for Cooperation. These agreements are popularly known as "bilateral agreements." A variation which involves commitments by the United States and the other party to the International Atomic Energy Agency is known as a trilateral or tripartite agreement. Agreements for cooperation are negotiated for the United States by the Department of State with the strong participation of the Energy Research and Development Administration. To take effect, they require a Presidential finding and approval, and must lie before Congress for a specified time during which Congress in essence can exercise a veto. The agreements provide the framework for technical cooperation and for export of U.S. nuclear materials, powerplants and related equipment to nations abroad, and for safeguarding of exported items against theft, diversion or illicit use.
Transfer of Information:
a Prime Mover for World Use of Nuclear Power
The worldwide spread of the science and technologies of atomic energy and nuclear power was extended greatly beginning in the 1950s by an outward
surge in information from the United States. *
# The two terms, atomic energy and nuclear power, are frequently used. They are not synonyms. Atomic energy is the more inclusive term which encompasses uses of radiation and radioactive materials as well as production of useful energy from fission and fusion. Nuclear power is limited to the technologies for producing useful energy (process heat or electricity) from fission of uranium atoms.