Grassley introduces legislation to combat nuclear terrorism, proliferation

Nuclear BlastFrom Press Release


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley today introduced bipartisan legislation that amends various provisions of the federal criminal code to implement several important multilateral treaties that modernize and strengthen the international and domestic counterterrorism and counter-proliferation legal frameworks.

The Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2015 implements four agreements: the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, an amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, an amendment to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, and an amendment to the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.   The first is a new treaty designed to combat nuclear terrorism, and the latter three agreements build on existing counterterrorism treaties to which the United States is already a party that address the use of weapons of mass destruction and attacks involving ships and maritime platforms.

These agreements are widely supported, including by the Departments of State, Justice and Defense under the Bush and Obama administrations.  They were negotiated and signed by the United States under the Bush administration, after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  In 2008, the Senate passed bipartisan resolutions of advice and consent to their ratification.

Implementing legislation must be passed before the agreements are formally ratified.  Consistent with the proposals put forth by both the Bush and Obama administrations, the legislation authored by Grassley authorizes the death penalty for nuclear terrorists, and includes the new crime of nuclear terrorism as both a predicate for a material support prosecution and as a basis for the government to request authorization for a wiretap.  A version of this implementing language that fails to include these important provisions is included in the USA Freedom Act of 2015.

“Fears of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation are rising, especially as Iran moves closer to obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapons.  Implementation of these treaties underscores the commitment of the United States to provide global leadership on these issues.  In this environment, it’s obvious that the government needs the ability to seek the death penalty for nuclear terrorists under the appropriate circumstances.  It’s also common sense that we provide the government the ability to prosecute those who provide material support to these terrorists, including by financing them.  Finally, it’s important that authorities have the capacity to seek lawful wiretaps, authorized by a federal judge, to investigate these terrorists.  Including these important tools in this legislation, as both Presidents Bush and Obama proposed, will help keep the country safe,” Grassley said.

The bill text can be found here.