FMI: James Love (202.332.2670)
Today Toshiba announced (http://www.toshiba.co.jp/about/press/2007_08/pr1301.htm ) that it intends to transfer 10 percent ownership of Westinghouse's holding companies to Kazatomprom, a company owned by the government of Kazakhstan, at a price of US $540 million dollars. The sale will require completion of "necessary regulatory procedures" in the relevant countries, including approvals for technology transfers, "under U.S., Japanese and other countries' export control laws and international regulation of the industry."
Earlier, on July 17, 2007, KEI and three other groups had written to the U.S. Department of Commerce, opposing the tranfer of nuclear fuel technology to Kazatomprom.
The statement of KEI Director James Love on today's announcement is as follows:
KEI will oppose the licensing of nuclear fuel processing technologies to Kazatomprom. Kazakhstan is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but still faces regulatory approvals in the US. The political situation in Kazakhstan has gotten worse every year, despite years of promises of domestic reforms. Political candidates, journalists, publishers, businessman, and others are murdered, kidnapped and intimidated. Kazakhstan has never seen a peaceful transition of power. President Nazarbayev is a brutal and autocratic dictator, and there is plenty of evidence he is not the stable regional partner portrayed by his public relations campaign.
Kazakhstan should not be encouraged to develop a new nuclear industry. There is a deep culture of corruption and violence in Kazakhstan, and if there are any standards at all for sharing nuclear technologies, Kazakhstan would fail. The police and other security forces are poorly paid and poorly trained. The borders are not secure. There has been a long history of reports of smuggling of narcotics and nuclear materials in Kazakhstan, even including links to the Khan network that sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya.
"The licensing of Westinghouse nuclear technologies to Kazatomprom will accelerate the development of advanced fuel processing technologies, and pose risks for further proliferation of nuclear weapons, if not by Kazakhstan itself, then by countries that acquire the technology, legally or illegally, from Kazatomprom.
The Bush administration should invite public comment on the proposed transfer of nuclear technology to this corrupt and undemocratic country.