Brent Scowcroft Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Matthew Kroenig writes for The Weekly Standard on America’s history of a bipartisan nuclear nonproliferation policy and why the nuclear deal with Iran has lawmakers split along party lines:
If there is one thing on which Democrats and Republicans can agree, it is that it is undesirable for countries other than the United States to possess nuclear weapons. For this reason, America’s nonproliferation policy has traditionally been characterized by strong bipartisanship. It is notable, therefore, that support for the recently negotiated Iran deal splits along party lines. But on closer inspection, what is truly puzzling is that anyone supports the agreement at all. In striking this deal, the Obama administration abandoned a decades-old mainstay of U.S. nonproliferation policy, and opponents are right to reject it. The United States has always opposed the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies—uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing—to all states, including its own allies, and it is a mistake to make an exception for Iran.
From the beginning of the atomic era, American scientists understood that these sensitive nuclear technologies could be used to make fuel for nuclear energy or for nuclear weapons, and the United States immediately began working to close off this pathway to the bomb. The McMahon Act of 1946 made it illegal for the United States to share nuclear technologies with any country. Even countries like Britain and Canada that had helped America invent the bomb during the Manhattan Project were cut off.