|For Immediate Release
June 6, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 5889, the “Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of
Maritime Navigation Act of 2012”
Chairman Smith: I introduced this legislation to implement certain provisions of four multilateral counterterrorism treaties. These treaties are important tools in the fight against terrorism and each one builds on an existing treaty to which the United States is a party.
Full implementation of these treaties will enhance the national security of the United States. It will modernize and strengthen the international counterterrorism and counter proliferation legal framework.
The treaties and this legislation complement important U.S. priorities, such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Washington Nuclear Security Summit, and the Proliferation Security Initiative.
They also advance a common-sense obligation and duty of Congress and of those that serve and protect the United States in other ways to keep America safe.
Acceptance of these treaties will reinforce the United States’ leadership role in promoting these and other counterterrorism treaties and will likely prompt other countries to join. The treaties are widely supported by the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, and Defense.
This legislation addresses gaps in current law and inadequacies in jurisdictional provisions. Acceptance of the underlying treaties benefits the United States in many ways.
For example: parties are required to criminalize certain acts committed by persons who possess or use radioactive material or a nuclear device, proactive measures have to be taken to prevent relevant offenses, and parties are obligated to “extradite or prosecute” alleged offenders.
As they relate to maritime terrorism, the underlying treaties would treat vessels and platforms as a potential means of conducting terrorism activity and not just as objects of terrorist activity.
The previous administration strongly supported approval of these agreements, which have already received Senate advice and consent. The current administration aspires to advance this legislation so that the United States maintains it leadership role in counter nuclear proliferation efforts and in terrorism prevention.
Advancing this legislation is also a step toward better international cooperation and information-sharing as it relates to international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
This bill has been drafted in a bipartisan manner, with both Majority and Minority staff involved at every point. Technical advice was also provided by both the Departments of State and Justice.
The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on this issue in October of 2011. At that hearing, testimony was heard about the importance of this legislation. There has also been interest from outside observers that these treaties be fully implemented with passage of this legislation.