The President’s Authority to Order Export of Special Nuclear Material Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954

Headnotes: 

The President has the power to order exports of special nuclear material under § 126 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, whenever he determines that “withholding the proposed export would be seriously prejudicial to the achievement of United States non-proliferation objectives, or would otherwise jeopardize the common defense and security.”

The full-scope safeguards criterion of § 128, which applies to exports of special nuclear material to non-nuclear weapon states, is binding only on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While the President may take into account the expression of congressional policy contained in § 128 in deciding to order an export under § 126, including its affordance of a grace period, he is not bound by it.

Updated July 9, 2014