While lawmakers are debating the scope, scope and future of these agreements, Russia and China – which have much more robust nuclear export industries and less stringent legal standards – are of course developing nuclear capabilities for foreign partners. While more than 70 years have passed since the original idea of Atoms for Peace, the underlying geopolitical engine of civil nuclear cooperation – which foreign rivals would use nuclear energy to build at Washington`s expense around the world – has remained the same. There should also be a fear that well-intentioned civil nuclear cooperation could risk the deterioration of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. MOSCOW (Reuters) – A long-standing agreement on civil nuclear cooperation between Russia and the United States came into force on Tuesday. This abandonment of the passive adoption of 123 agreements toward proactive approval would delay the balance of power between the executive branch and Congress in these matters and increase the burden on the White House to ensure that it has sufficient support from Congress. Indeed, it would transform the current ex ante executive agreement model of Congress into an ex-post model in cases where there is credible evidence of nuclear weapons intent. Agreement 123, so called because its requirements are defined in Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, was first signed in 2008 by Beyrle`s predecessor, William Burns, but withdrawn by the Bush administration after Russia`s war with Georgia. In 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama sent them to Congress as an obvious reward for Russian aid in the Iranian nuclear issue. Until March 28, 2019, 23 such agreements are in effect in the United States, governing peaceful nuclear cooperation with 48 countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Taiwan government authorities (through the American Institute in Taiwan), as described below. Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act generally requires a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement for the significant transfer of nuclear materials, equipment or components from the United States to another nation.

In addition, these agreements, commonly referred to as “Agreements 123,” facilitate cooperation in other areas such as technical exchanges, scientific research and security discussions. In conjunction with other non-proliferation instruments, in particular the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), 123 agreements help advance the principles of non-proliferation in the United States. They create a legal framework for important cooperation with other countries. In order for a country to reach a 123-nation agreement with the United States, that country must meet the non-proliferation standards set out in the 123 agreement. The U.S. Department of State is responsible for negotiating 123 agreements with the technical assistance and approval of DOE/NNSA and in agreement with the United States.