On May 9, President George W. Bush transmitted to the Senate for its approval the "additional protocol" to the U.S.-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards agreement. It is the first time since taking office that the administration has forwarded an arms control treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.
In his message to the Senate, Bush urged "early and favorable consideration" of the agreement. He emphasized that "universal adoption" of the protocol is "a central goal" of his nuclear nonproliferation policy. The United States signed the protocol in 1998.
The IAEA drafted the protocol to strengthen its ability to detect covert nuclear weapons programs after it was unable to discover clandestine programs in Iraq and North Korea in the early 1990s. The protocol expands the IAEA's legal authority beyond the original safeguards agreements the agency has with its member states. Those agreements, which aimed to allow the IAEA to verify that the products of civil nuclear programs were not being diverted to weapons programs, restrict the agency to inspecting and monitoring only declared nuclear sites.
Under the new protocol, the IAEA is allowed to conduct short-- or no-notice inspections and employ new environmental-sampling and satellite-monitoring techniques at any suspect site. …