I believe that the United States missed an opportunity to leverage this agreement to convince the UAE to improve its export control regime and to reign in Iranian front companies that have used UAE territory to obtain sensitive technologies for Iran’s weapons programs. While the UAE has made important strides in these areas, their export control law, passed in 2007, still is not fully implemented. We need maximum effort from this critical transshipment hub country; thus far, we don’t have it.

Congress will also need to use the 90-day review period to examine this agreement in light of its being held out as a “model” for future nuclear cooperation agreements. Given the increased interest in nuclear power we have seen globally, including by other countries in the Middle East, we need to ensure that this agreement does in fact represent the best we can achieve from a nonproliferation perspective.

On April 6, 2009, I wrote to the President along with key colleagues, expressing these concerns and laying out the provisions that should be in agreements for nuclear cooperation. We also outlined the policies that should guide U.S. nuclear cooperation in order to prevent the use of civilian nuclear technology in weapons programs. I will evaluate this proposed agreement in light of these provisions and principles.

Another important concern we need to examine is the employment benefits of this agreement and the expansion of nuclear exports generally. The UAE government has said it will accede to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) once it makes the final decision to deploy nuclear reactors. It is critical that we have an iron clad commitment from the UAE to adopt this type of liability protection as soon as possible. Without such protection, no U.S. firm will be able to sell the UAE nuclear reactors due to concerns about being held liable for untold billions should there be a nuclear accident. The French and Russian competitors are state-owned firms that can claim sovereign immunity in the event of a catastrophe.