Statement on Signing the China-United States Nuclear Energy Agreement Implementation Bill

December 16, 1985

I am pleased to sign into law today S.J. Res. 238, in which the Congress states that it favors the agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the United States and the People's Republic of China, which I transmitted to Congress on July 24, 1985. The agreement will have a significant, positive effect on the relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China and will lead to a continuing dialog with China on important nuclear energy and nonproliferation matters. It will further U.S. nonproliferation and other foreign policy interests. I therefore welcome the Congress' support for the agreement. Since I submitted the agreement without exempting it from any requirement in section 123(a) of the Atomic Energy Act, no affirmative legislation was required to permit the agreement to be brought into force after the legally stipulated time periods for congressional review had been completed. The agreement may therefore be brought into force at that time in accordance with the procedure set forth in article 10 of the agreement.

The joint resolution does require a one-time certification and a one-time report before exports to China under the agreement may commence. It assigns exclusively to the President the responsibility to review the matters to be certified to and to decide whether the certification may be made. Three matters must be certified: (1) that the arrangements for visits and exchanges of information made pursuant to article 8 of the agreement are, as called for by this article itself, designed to be effective in ensuring that nuclear exports under the agreement are used solely for intended peaceful purposes; (2) that, after examining all information available to the United States Government, including any additional information that China has provided, nuclear exports to China are not precluded under section 129(2) of the Atomic Energy Act; and (3) that the obligation to consider favorably a request to carry out activities described in article 5(2) of the agreement does not prejudice the decision of the United States to approve or disapprove such a request. In addition, the joint resolution requires a report on Chinese nonproliferation policies and practices before exports commence.

The joint resolution also states that U.S. exports are subject to U.S. laws and regulations in effect at the time of export. This is a restatement of existing U.S. law and does not conflict with any obligations undertaken by the United States under the agreement. Finally, the joint resolution contains a section intended to ensure that the provisions in the China agreement that are textually different from provisions of the type contained in other U.S. peaceful nuclear cooperation agreements will not be the starting point for future nuclear cooperation agreement negotiations with other countries.

This joint resolution serves our interests in promoting peaceful nuclear cooperation and a nonproliferation dialog with China. For this reason, I have decided to sign the joint resolution. I appreciate the efforts of Senators Lugar and Cranston and Representatives Fascell, Broomfield, Bonker, Solarz, as well as others, in developing a joint resolution text that both the administration and the Congress could accept. I understand that an amendment relating to the U.S.-China peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement is currently under consideration in the conference on the continuing resolution. I strongly object to that amendment.

Note: S.J. Res. 238, approved December 16, was assigned Public Law No. 99 - 183.