The following is adapted from remarks by Sen. Cranston (D-Calif.) to the Senate, March 17, 1981:
I have recently received information regarding several new nuclear developments in the Middle East and South Asia which trouble me deeply.
First, it is apparent that the Pakistanis -- through continued purchases of sensitive hardware and dual-use technology in Europe -- have achieved swift progress toward making their new small-scale reprocessing plant operational, and have continued development of larger reprocessing and enrichment plants that could also be used in weapons production.
Second, the Iraqi nuclear program is continuing its determined drive toward attainment of the capability to produce nuclear weapons through the use of sensitive French and Italian technology, highly enriched uranium fuel from France and more than 100 technicians from each of these nations.
And third, Indian officials are now publicly threatening that they may soon begin unauthorized reprocessing of United States source nuclear fuel to extract plutonium.
My information establishes that Iraq, though at the present time party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is embarked on a full-scale program that appears designed to develop the capability to extract plutonium suitable for weapons purposes.
There is no evidence that actual bomb design has been done in Iraq. But Iraq is demonstrating graphically the danger that radical oil powers will use the "oil weapon" to blackmail other nations into imprudent sales of sensitive nuclear technology and cooperation in its use.
Administration officials have confirmed reports received by me indicating that Iraq has used its position as a major oil exporter to attain large stockpiles of uranium from Portugal, a new agreement with Brazil to exchange nuclear technology, agreements with France to provide extensive technical assistance in key aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle along with sales of French research reactors and weapons-grade nuclear fuel, and sales by Italy of three sensitive "hot cells" suitable for practice of plutonium extraction techniques, and other fuel cycle procedures. Both France and Italy are providing nuclear training to large numbers of Iraqi scientists in Europe, and both nations today have teams of several hundred skilled technicians at work in highly sensitive nuclear research projects in Iraq.
This massive Iraqi nuclear development program is under way despite the fact that Iraq has no parallel program for developing commercial nuclear power. I am sensitve to the legitimate hopes of nations seeking to expand rapidly their industrial base through the use of nuclear energy production facilities. But it is absurd to suggest that the programs of Pakistan and Iraq -- which are so clearly dedicated to developing the most sensitive fuel cycle facilities and which have no significant power production programs -- deserve such legitimacy. In fact, I have been informed by more than one authoritative executive branch official that, in the absence of any associated power program, a weapons capability is clearly the option the Iraqis are pursuing. According to the authoritative assessments, the Iraqis are embarked on "a Manhattan Project-type approach" -- they are pursuing all avenues which could provide them with a capability to produce nuclear explosives.
While imports of highly enriched uranium from France will give Iraq at least the theoretical possibility of fabricating a single nuclear weapon this year, it will likely be several years before Iraq attains the capability to produce materials suitable for production of more nuclear weapons. But it is clear that its program is at a critical stage. Concerted efforts by suppliers can succeed in preventing the development by Iraq of a significant weapons capability for a good number of years.
I believe that the threat of a destabilizing regional nuclear arms race posed by the Iraqi and Pakistani programs endangers U.S. security interests and makes it essential for the United States to act. We should press France and Italy to stem the Iraqis' methodical drive toward the attainment of a nuclear weapon capability, and to place more effective limits on the supply of sensitive nuclear technology and hardware to Iraq. We should also seek greater European cooperation in attempting to bring all Pakistani nuclear facilities under international safeguards and to terminate the supply of all nuclear-related technology from Europe to Pakistan unless and until its program is subject to regular International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.
The key to each of these efforts remains the full cooperation of our friends in Europe who are capable of providing advanced, weapons-usable technology and hardware to the nuclear programs of developing nations.
The United States is not without important leverage in pursuing non-proliferation issues with European exporters of sensitive technology, who still rely on the United States for significant amounts of nuclear fuel and hardware. Section 129 of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended by the landmark 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act, prohibits U.S. nuclear trade to nations found to have:
"Assisted, encouraged or induced any non-nuclear weapons state to engage in activities involving source or special nuclear material and having direct significance for the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear explosive devices, and has failed to take steps which, in the president's judgment, represent sufficient progress toward terminating such assistance, encouragement or inducement. . . ."
We must work closely in the months ahead with nuclear supplier nations to devise a cooperative approach to the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and South Asia. But on the basis of the information I have received in recent weeks, there is a strong argument to be made that the highly sensitive French and Italian assistance to Iraq's nuclear program -- a program whose objective is believed by several key U.S. analysts to be the production of nuclear weapons -- would oblige the United States to terminate nuclear trade with these nations until they take steps to curb their assistance to Iraq.