Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) yesterday delayed confirmation proceedings on President Reagan's nomination of James L. Malone to head a State Department bureau that deals with nuclear nonproliferation policies after questioning Malone's ties to three foreign power companies that operate nuclear power generators.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to vote today on Malone's nomination to be assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs. But Glenn won a delay in the vote after suggesting Malone faced a possible conflict of interest because of his representation of the Taiwan Power Co., which is owned by the government of Taiwan, and two Japanese power companies between 1978 and last December.
Malone, a former general counsel of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, represented the firms while in private law practice.Under questioning from Glenn, he said his role involved "a reporting function" only and that he was not involved in personal contacts with congressional or executive branch officials in order to influence their decisions.
Glenn, however, read from Malone's foreign agents registration statement that is on file at the Justice Department and which described Malone as having had "personal contact with officials of the executive branch and Congress to protect the rights of Taiwan Power Co."
"I submit that your own statement does not square with what you say you were doing," Glenn said.
Malone said the registration statement contained "unfortunate language" that did not accurately reflect what he did for the three foreign power companies.
Glenn also questioned Malone about his role in shaping the Reagan administration transition team's recommendation on nuclear nonproliferation. Malone was a coauthor of a transition report that said there should be "no concern" about proliferation to "those industrialized nations with substantial and expanding commitments to nuclear electric power." The report specifically cities in this category West Germany and Japan -- the location of two of Malone's former clients.
Asked if he would excuse himself from State Department decisions involving the nuclear power industries in Japan and Taiwan, Malone said he would "to the extent there was any conflict [of interest.]"
"Can you envision a situation where there would not be a conflict?" Glenn replied.
There was no indication from Glenn that he intends to try to block Malone's appointment. He said he only wanted additional time for the committee staff to study his testimony and see if there are additional questions.
The Carter administration, which made nuclear nonproliferation one of the top priorities of its foreign policy strongly opposed the acquisition by Japan of facilities to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. One by-product of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel is weapons-grade nuclear material. Malone's transition report specifically suggests the possibility that the United States assist Japan in developing a reprocessing facility.
Malone, who was warmly praised by Sen. Jesse A. Helms (R-N.C.), a sure sign of his acceptability to the most conservative elements in the Republican Party, was closely questioned by Democratic senators on the administration's decision to delay the final round of negotiations leading to a Law of the Sea treaty.
The administration, largely in response to complaints from U.S. mining interests, has announced it is reviewing all aspects of the treaty, the product of a decade of negotiation, and will be unable to approve a draft treaty at what was hoped would be a final negotiating session now going on in New York.
Malone said he had "no strong views one way or another" on whether the United States should accept the treaty as now drafted or try to make major changes. He said he agreed with the need for a thorough review before making that decision.
Malone said he was willing to listen to the views of all groups on the Law of the Sea matter and so far had held two meetings with outside groups on the treaty. He said one of these meetings was with U.S. mining interests. He was not asked about and did not identify who was involved at the second meeting.