Wilson Presses Sec. Kerry on Risks Imposed by MOX Decision

Mar 13, 2014
Press Release

Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) released the following statement after questioning Secretary of State John Kerry in today’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.  The Secretary appeared before the Committee to testify on the State Department’s FY15 budget request.  Because the President suggested placing the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in “cold standby,” Congressman Wilson took this opportunity to question the Administration’s decision and press the Secretary on its national security impacts.

 “By threatening to terminate the MOX project, the President is violating agreements with Russia and threatening nuclear nonproliferation efforts.  For constituents living in South Carolina’s Second Congressional District, this decision hits close to home as it will destroy 1,800 jobs and confirms that this Administration is failing to follow through with its commitments. I am very pleased Secretary Kerry has acknowledged that renegotiating with Russia will be a difficult task, especially given our current relationship with President Putin. On behalf of South Carolina, I look forward to hearing the Secretary’s response to my question and hope that this will encourage the Administration to change its irresponsible position.”

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Text of the Transcript:

Rep. Wilson: “I share in everyone's concern about the ongoing situation between Ukraine and Russia. Peace is threatened by President Putin's regional aggression. I believe it is of paramount importance that the United States exhibits strength and determination toward the Russian Federation. However, the disastrous decision by the President and his budget to halt progress on the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Facility at the Savannah River Site will allow the Russians the option to stop the disposition of 34 metric tons of excess weapons grade plutonium. Over the weekend USA Today ran a story in which Secretary Ernest Moniz of the Department of Energy commented, ‘at the right time’ the U.S. will have to re-engage in plutonium disposition discussions with the Russians. He went on to say, ‘now might not be the right time.’ My question is when will we be able to have these negotiations? If we back down on our end of the agreement, what assurances do we have that Russia’s excess material won't end up in the wrong hands?”


Sec. Kerry: “Look, that's an excellent question. I honestly need to get deeper briefed on exactly what that decision was, how it was made, and why. Let me find out and we'll get back to you.”