The world is rightly worried about Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Iran claims this technology is for producing fuel for nuclear power plants, but it could be quickly shifted to making nuclear bomb material. Unfortunately, some in Congress, in their eagerness to stem the spread of such technologies, have introduced legislation — separate from their effort to slap further sanctions on Iran — that probably would make stopping nuclear proliferation harder, not easier.
Their idea is to limit future U.S. peaceful nuclear cooperation only to countries that make a legal commitment to forgo building facilities for either uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing (the other path to nuclear bomb material). The idea sounds good, but it is likely to be both ineffective and counterproductive.
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Matthew Bunn is a professor at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Fred McGoldrick held senior positions in the Departments of Energy and State from 1973 to 1998. They wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.