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Confrontation and Retreat: The U.S. Congress and the South Asian Nuclear Tests - Key Legislation

Confrontation and Retreat: The U.S. Congress and the South Asian Nuclear Tests

by Robert M. Hathaway

[Back to text] Key Legislation

Symington Amendment

Adopted 1976. Sec. 101 of the Arms Export Control Act, formerly Sec. 669 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended.

Prohibits most U.S. assistance to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside of international safeguards. President Jimmy Carter found Pakistan in violation of the Symington amendment in 1979 because of Islamabad's clandestine construction of a uranium enrichment plant. U.S. aid to Islamabad was possible between 1982 and 1990 only through the use of presidential waivers.

Glenn Amendment

Adopted 1977. Sec. 102(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, formerly Sec. 670 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended.

Prohibits U.S. foreign assistance to any non-nuclear-weapon state (as defined by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) that, among other things, detonates a nuclear explosive device. President Bill Clinton imposed Glenn amendment sanctions against India on May 13, 1998, two days after New Delhi broke its self-imposed 24-year moratorium on nuclear testing. On May 30, 1998, Clinton invoked similar sanctions against Pakistan, following Islamabad's six nuclear tests on May 28 and 30.

Pressler Amendment

Adopted 1985. Sec. 620E[e] of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended.

Originally banned most economic and military assistance to Pakistan unless the U.S. president certified, on an annual basis, that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device, and that the provision of U.S. aid would significantly reduce the risk of Pakistan possessing such a device. In October 1990, President George Bush was unable to issue this certification, which triggered the Pressler amendment prohibitions. In 1995, the Brown amendment exempted most forms of economic assistance from the Pressler amendment prohibitions.

Brownback I

Adopted 1998. The India-Pakistan Relief Act of 1998, incorporated into the fiscal 1999 omnibus appropriations bill (Public Law 105-277).

Provides the president with authority to waive, for a period of one year, Glenn, Symington and Pressler amendment sanctions on India and Pakistan, except for those pertaining to military assistance, dual-use exports and military sales.

Brownback II

Adopted 1999. Incorporated into the fiscal year 2000 defense appropriations bill (Public Law 106-79).

Gives the president indefinite authority to waive, with respect to India and Pakistan, all the provisions of the Glenn, Symington and Pressler amendments. States that the "broad application" of export controls on Indian and Pakistani government agencies and private companies suspected of having links to their country's nuclear or missile programs is "inconsistent" with the national security interests of the United States, and urges the application of U.S. export controls only against agencies and companies that make "direct and material contributions to weapons of mass destruction and missile programs and only to those items that can contribute to such programs."

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