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House Passes Iran Nonproliferation Act Amendment to Help U.S. Space Program

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

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WASHINGTON, DC - The House of Representatives tonight by voice vote passed a bill amending the Iran Nonproliferation Act to allow the U.S. to continue to use Russian vehicles to get crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station.

The bill was co-sponsored by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) and former Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).  The Science Committee shares jurisdiction over the Iran Nonproliferation Act (INA) with the Committee on International Relations.

The bill the House passed tonight (an amended version of S. 1713) reflects a compromise worked out by the two House Committees, the Administration and the Senate.  The Senate is expected to pass the House version of the bill and send it to the President for signature. 

The INA in its current form would prevent future U.S. payments to the Russians for space services.  The U.S. relies on Russian Soyuz vehicles for use as crew rescue vehicles, without which Americans are not allowed to be aboard the ISS.  (The Space Shuttle cannot remain docked at the Station for more than about two weeks at a time, preventing its use as an emergency vehicle.)  While the Shuttle has been out of service, the U.S. has also relied on the Russians to deliver crew and cargo to and from the Station. 

The bill the House passed tonight would amend the INA to allow the U.S. to continue paying the Russians for services necessary to operate the Space Station until 2012.  The Administration had originally sought language that would have, in effect, eliminated all limitations on payments to the Russians.  The Senate version of the bill would have prevented payments after 2012, but would have allowed the U.S. to pay before 2012 for services that would be rendered after that date.

The House bill also adds Syria to the list of nations that cannot receive help from the Russians in the development of nuclear weapons under the Act.

The floor statements of Boehlert and Calvert are appended. 

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