Thursday, February 07, 2008

U.S. Funding Russian Assistance On Iranian Nuclear Projects

Feb 6: In a startling revelation, Representatives John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee say that a highly touted Department of Energy (DOE) nonproliferation program, which is intended to keep Soviet-era scientists from migrating to rogue states following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been funding Russian research institutes that support nuclear projects in Iran. Dingell said, “Only this Administration would complain about proliferation in Iran, as part of President Bush’s nuclear axis of evil, and then finance it with American taxpayer dollars."

The two Representatives wrote Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman regarding the Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program (IPP). The letter from Stupak and Dingell notes that two IPP-funded institutes in Russia have performed work on the Buhsher nuclear reactor in Iran. The revelations came the day before Bodman testified before the Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee on the Department of Energy’s Fiscal Year 2009 Budget.

Stupak said, “During our hearing in January, Department of Energy and State Department witnesses told me they didn’t know if the United States is funding projects at institutes that are also doing work for the Iranian nuclear program. We now know that they are. I find it to be a rather schizophrenic foreign policy position for the Bush Administration to label Iran part of the ‘axis of evil’ but then send millions of U.S. tax dollars intended for non-proliferation programs to Russian institutes that are doing work on Iran’s nuclear program. I look forward to hearing the Energy and State Departments’ justifications for such a policy.”

Bodman said he is unsure if the allegations are true and DOE is still investigating the charges in the letter, but said it is his belief that U.S. funds are "not contributing to the Iranian nuclear program." He said DOE will get the Committee answers to their questions.

Access a release from Dingell and Stupak with links to the letter and two attachments (
click here). Access the Committee hearing website and archived webcast where Secretary Bodman is questioned on this issue (click here). [*Energy, *Haz/Nuclear]