123 Agreements

Nikolas Gvosdev kvetches about Congress taking aim at the Indian and Russian 123 Nuclear Agreements. My understanding is that the Russian deal does a good job of cementing bilateral cooperation in an area where we have a vested interested in them not operating as a loose cannon. The Indian deal, meanwhile, presents some valid proliferation concerns due to India’s non-NPT status.

But either way, the Congressional interference, which as Gvosdev notes, is based on unrelated policy issues, illustrates the need for some sort of strategic framework between the Executive and Congress on nuclear agreements. This is a sector that by every indication is only going to get more vital. And of the countries that Gvosdev mentions as chafing at the bit for an American green light to penetrate some of these markets, France and Russia don’t face the same kind of legislative branch hurdles to strategic nuclear partnerships. (There’s at least some small comfort in the fact that India’s Communist Party is creating the same kind of problems on its end.)

Obviously, Congress will always have the Constitutional prerogative to block the Executive, for whatever reason it chooses. But some sort of joint strategic planning in this sector might help prevent this kind of wrench in the works for future deals.