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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 20, November 1997

Safeguarding Nuclear Expertise
By R. Adam Moody


The international nuclear safeguards regime has been a creature of evolution. Until 1965, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a comprehensive safeguards system, safeguards were applied to nuclear material only selectively. But the 1970 entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) expanded the IAEA's powers. The NPT, which promised to promote the peaceful use of nuclear power while limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, obligated non-nuclear-weapon States (NNWS) to place all nuclear materials in all peaceful nuclear activities under IAEA control.

However, the NPT's lack of definition of "source or special fissionable material" and "equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use, or production of special fissionable material" resulted in differing interpretations concerning safeguards requirements and what material and equipment was to be restricted from export. This deficiency was remedied somewhat in 1974 by agreement among a group of nuclear suppliers (the Zangger Committee) to apply export controls on specific nuclear materials, technology, and equipment as defined in a so-called "Trigger List".

Although the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which was organized in 1975, submitted an expanded list incorporating more stringent and effective guidelines to the IAEA in 1978, disagreement concerning the degree to which safeguards should be applied in recipient countries persisted. By 1990, fewer than 10 countries had unilaterally adopted a full-scope safeguards policy.(1) In the April 1992 meeting of NSG member States, consensus was finally reached concerning full-scope safeguards, which were re-emphasized in the "Principles and Objectives" document agreed at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.

Although embarrassing to the regime, a number of watershed events have served as points of departure for assessing the regime's limitations, reinforcing its structures, and altering assumptions. The Indian "peaceful nuclear explosion" at Pokhran in 1974 led to a re-examination of export controls. Similarly, revelations regarding Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program led to a re-assessment of the effectiveness of IAEA safeguards, which was followed by the development of the IAEA Program to Strengthen the Effectiveness and Improve the Efficiency of Safeguards ('93+2').

If the regime has made such strides in attempting to deter and detect the proliferation of nuclear material and technology, why has there been virtually no development of a multilateral counterpart to safeguard nuclear weapon-related expertise and sensitive information? In view of military cutbacks, nuclear draw down, and defense conversion (with accompanying personnel attrition) in the former Soviet Union, the United States, and other countries in recent years, does this apparent shortfall represent a regime weakness? If so, how might this deficiency be remedied? The following analysis considers these questions.

Premises and Perceptions

Since the NPT became the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, the regime's principal challenge has been to secure the inherently shaky equilibrium of the two countervailing objectives codified in the Treaty. Explicit limitations have been offset (or counterbalanced, depending on one's frame of reference) by implicit allowances.

On the one hand, Article I prohibits any of the five nuclear-weapon States (NWS) from "assist[ing], encourag[ing], or induc[ing] any non-nuclear-weapons State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices…." Article II likewise prohibits each NNWS from "seek[ing] or receiv[ing] any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

On the other hand, Article IV binds all States parties "to facilitate, and… participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy... with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world."

In retrospect, it seems inconceivable that two such seemingly irreconcilable objectives could be codified at once in the same international treaty. But the juxtaposition of these opposing forces is a testimony to the forces and premises at play at the time of the NPT's creation, as well as to the difficulty of defining in nondiscriminatory terms the uses of material, technology, and know-how that are by their very nature dual-use. There are a number of plausible explanations that might account for the absence of both specific language in the NPT and a comprehensive safeguards regime for nuclear expertise.

First, NPT negotiators haggled over the proposed definition (or lack thereof) of the words 'manufacture' and 'nuclear explosive device' in Article II. The debate centered in part on when exactly manufacturing of a nuclear weapon begins: in the research and development (R&D) phase, in the assembly phase, or somewhere in between. Negotiators decided to leave the wording ambiguous, agreeing that "these words [do] not cover early and intermediate steps that could lead either to explosive or non-explosive uses as long as those steps [are] intended 'for civil purposes'." (2)

Even though it was understood among treaty drafters that assistance in the manufacture of a nuclear explosive device included a proscription on "the supply of 'information on design'"(3), the absence of specific language has left room for some countries intent on pursuing nuclear weapons to make semantic justifications for weapon-related R&D. This should be cause for concern, particularly given the fact that the NPT "does not require the IAEA to verify the obligation of a [NNWS] to refrain from receiving assistance in the manufacture or acquisition of nuclear weapons." (4)

Second, US policy at the time actually promoted the dissemination of US nuclear weapon design information to its allies. (5) In 1958, the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954 had been amended to include "communication to friendly nations or defense organizations of atomic weapons design information:

a)…to permit essential training and planning by our allies

b)…to make any delivery systems manufactured by our allies fully compatible with our atomic weapons;

c)…to improve the receiving nation's atomic weapon design, development, or production capability;

d)…necessary to military applications of atomic energy in addition to weapons or military reactors." (6)

The United States occupied a preeminent position in framing the NPT, co-chairing the conference at which the text of the treaty was negotiated. Although aware of the proliferation problems its mismanaged 1953 'Atoms for Peace' program had spawned, during NPT negotiations the United States viewed these problems "as much in terms of the threat to future nuclear commerce as… in terms of the threat to life." (7)

Finally, in the intervening years since the NPT's entry into force, a number of premises, based in part on the formative experiences of regime members, have been perpetuated at the apparent partial exclusion of others. The core premise of the regime is that fissile nuclear material (i.e., plutonium or highly enriched uranium [HEU]) is the sine qua non of a nuclear explosive device. No nuclear material - no bomb. Denial of access to fissile nuclear material therefore has in large measure been the defining and operational objective of the regime.

The argument is that even with the necessary know-how, the crucial ingredient in constructing a detonable nuclear weapon is sufficient quantities of HEU or plutonium. A sizeable body of literature spanning a time period of more than 20 years is supportive of this argument, (8) and suggests that because nuclear weapon design information is so widely and publicly available, "fabrication of a nuclear bomb is… a task that any nation with a moderate industrial capacity can do without outside aid." (9)

But the literature also qualifies this assertion, although with much less emphasis than that given to the threat of materials proliferation, by drawing attention to the importance of scientific and technical expertise in constructing even a crude nuclear device. These provisos in the literature, and others, which are discussed below, are indicative of the proliferation risks posed by unsafeguarded nuclear expertise.

The operational definition of "expertise" in this sense would be that which is experientially earned, not just that which is intellectually learned, although the former would likely not occur without a large dose of the latter. Either medium for expertise diffusion - human or written - could cause inestimable damage to international security, as the two examples in the following section suggest. But hands-on experience is by far the more useful to a clandestine weapons program, as evinced by Iraq's reliance on "foreign advisors". The Iraqi experience suggests that it is not information per se that is most beneficial to a clandestine nuclear weapons program, but scientific and technical expertise. (10)

It is also important to note that this long-held nonproliferation tenet - that a potential proliferator will be denied the sine qua non of a nuclear weapon through the effective safeguard and control of fissile nuclear material - is not (and never was) based on the presumption that constructing a nuclear weapon is child's play. (11) Nor is this maxim based on the presumption that a nuclear weapons program would not be "greatly expedited if a bomb-maker succeeded in bribing or coercing a nuclear weapons expert to assist the effort." (12) Both time and effort required would be greatly reduced by the presence of personnel with the right set of skills and experience.

In early 1976, several noted physicists presented a prepared statement on the difficulty of building a nuclear explosive device to the US National Council of Churches. The authors, Hans Bethe, Bernard Cohen, and Richard Wilson, wrote: "At least six persons, highly skilled in very different technologies, would be required…, even for a crude weapon." (13) Depending on the sophistication of the device, these skills would be drawn from such scientific-technical fields as metallurgy, casting, precision machining, high explosives, chemical propellants, high-speed electronics, neutron generation, plasma physics, hydrodynamics, precision detonation, high-energy physics, computer modeling, code writing, and others.

Though most of the basic design concepts for a gun-assembly device, such as the one used in Little Boy, or a solid-pack implosion device, such as the one used in Fat Man, are widely available in the open literature, few appreciate the importance to a weapons program of personnel with the right expertise. The qualitative disparity between what is publicly available and what is not is significant. Although schematic drawings of Fat Man and Little Boy, for example, have been publicly available for many years, "the detailed design drawings and specifications that are essential before it is possible to plan the fabrication of actual parts are not [publicly] available. The preparation of these drawings requires a large number of man-hours and the direct participation of individuals thoroughly informed in several quite distinct areas…." (14)

In late 1992, a guest scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center underscored this point: "[B]uilding a nuclear bomb is not [just] about secrets. Everybody knows how to build a nuclear bomb, but not everyone has the expertise and technical abilities to do so." (15) Without sufficient "technical abilities," obstacles to constructing a detonable nuclear weapon would be very difficult to overcome. For example, in an effort to conceal the existence of its program from the international community, South Africa relied almost exclusively on indigenous expertise to develop its six nuclear weapons, and therefore took much longer "to 'qualify' a device based on simple gun-type principles" than it would have had it relied on the talents of experts recruited from abroad. (16) Some of the technical hurdles it faced included "achieving repeatability of projective velocity," "determining the density of neutron reflectors," "attaining adequate reliability of the arming and safing devices," and achieving "repeatability of the symmetry requirements when the [HEU] projectile [was] shot into the other subcritical mass [of HEU]." Even the Manhattan project, which unlike the South African program benefited from the expertise of foreign émigrés, faced formidable mechanical and metallurgical challenges. (17)

These examples and provisos suggest that having the right mix of individuals with the right sets of skills and expertise is at least vital to, if not a precondition of, constructing even a crude nuclear device. More advanced designs (e.g., levitated pit/hollow core, boosted fission, or staged thermonuclear) of course would require more advanced expertise, as would other technical challenges related to weaponization of the device, reliability, yield specificity, safety, long-term storage, and survivability against countermeasures.

That such expertise might be painstakingly developed over time is evinced by the South African case. However, the Iraqi case seems to indicate that reliance on foreign expertise can expedite weapon development, allowing the program to bypass setbacks and mistakes that would otherwise prove economically and technically prohibitive.

The importance of the right technical know-how to a weapons program therefore challenges conventional thinking that denial of access to fissile nuclear material and technology alone is a regime standard that is sufficient in scope to prevent clandestine nuclear weapons development.

Problems and Prescriptions

The international nuclear nonproliferation regime faces formidable challenges in seeking to safeguard nuclear-related expertise, information, and weapons know-how. Rather than becoming easier, controlling the movement of people and information will become increasingly difficult as the trend towards expanded global commerce, communication, and interaction continues. A plethora of incentives is being met by a paucity of disincentives to proliferate sensitive nuclear know-how. Solutions that are perhaps the most obvious also appear to be the most problematic.

For example, expanding fissile nuclear material safeguards to include nuclear R&D activities and facilities in IAEA member countries would be more intrusive than current safeguards, but would also put in place firmer disincentives to engage in weapon-related R&D, curtailing the substantive content out of which such expertise would grow. Verification of compliance would likely be difficult and costly under current conditions, as the IAEA lacks the resources to verify current safeguards in all member countries. Unless IAEA members were to significantly increase current levels of financial support, there is little hope that such safeguards could be implemented, even if sufficient political will were not an issue.

Amending the NPT to include more specific language regarding proscriptions on the transfer of design information, know-how, and sensitive expertise would be difficult, but not impossible. Submission of a proposed amendment to depositary governments, circulation to all States parties, and commencement of a conference to consider the amendment (if requested by at least one-third of States parties) would be relatively easy compared to the actual adoption process.

Adoption of an amendment would require the approval of a majority of States parties, all nuclear-weapon States, and all members of the IAEA Board of Governors. In addition, the amendment would be binding only on those States that chose to ratify it, and would only enter into force once a majority of parties had submitted their instruments of ratification. These challenges notwithstanding, there are several regime-wide measures that could be implemented, significantly shoring up international safeguards related to nuclear expertise.

In testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and National Security of the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress in 1992, William C. Potter, director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said: "I think it would be useful if the Commonwealth [of Independent States] members, as well as other States internationally, were to put in place so-called citizen participation laws which provide penalties if citizens participate in the nuclear weapons programs of other countries." (18)

This recommendation came on the heels of the break up of the Soviet Union, an event that threatened the international community then and continues to threaten it now with the proliferation of materials, technology, and know-how related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In comparison to the drain of nuclear material and technology, the United States identified the drain of expertise from the former Soviet Union (FSU) as the problem of greatest concern in a 1992 National Intelligence Estimate. An official familiar with the classified report said: "The paper discusses the enormous potential for draining away technology and experts as people [in the FSU] are looking to make a fast buck…. In the end, there is more concern about the experts [than about the technology]. It's the people who really count." (19) The reality of this threat was underscored the following year in a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) report signed by then SVR Director Yevgeniy Primakov. In part, the report said:

"The possibility of foreign specialists, primarily from the countries of the CIS and Eastern Europe, participating in the military programs of developing countries gives rise to great concern. The reduction of military budgets, armed forces, and armament production in these countries and the policy in the area of conversion of military production, which is at times poorly thought-out, are bringing about the release of large numbers of highly skilled specialists…. The drain on 'brains,' technology, and raw materials associated with WMD production is not a far-fetched problem; it exists." (20)

During the few years since the Soviet dissolution, personnel from the former Soviet military-industrial complex have been confirmed to be working in a number of countries widely believed to have nuclear weapons ambitions, such as Iran (21) and Iraq, (22) and to have emigrated to countries suspected of having a nuclear weapons capability, such as Israel, where 95 percent of the country's defense enterprises have replenished their staffs with Russian immigrants. (23)

While significantly liberalizing Soviet-era travel restrictions, Russia has maintained restrictions on emigration for personnel with access to State secrets ("Procedures for Departing and Entering the Russian Federation," 15 August, 1996). Even so, the Interagency Commission for the Protection of State Secrets (the so-called "Ivanov Commission"), which hears appeals of cases in which permission to emigrate was denied on the basis of access to State secrets, has been granting approval for more than 90 percent of the cases that come before it. (24)

Fortunately, there have been no confirmed instances in the open literature of a Russian nuclear weapon designer assisting the program of another country. Many controls are still in place, including monitoring of e-mail transmissions and telephone calls and restrictions on travel. But conditions in closed cities have deteriorated significantly since the Soviet dissolution, even as plans for weapon-related workforce reductions resulting from under-funded defense conversion initiatives are being implemented in Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70, (25) Russia's premier nuclear weapon R&D centers.

Related trends are equally troubling: strikes to protest ongoing payment arrears at nuclear power plants and facilities where sensitive technologies are manufactured are commonplace; "contract emigration," in which highly skilled specialists go abroad to do research and end up extending their contracts indefinitely, is a frequent occurrence; (26) an ongoing administrative disconnect between struggling facilities and governmental regulatory bodies is creating a vacuum of nonproliferation oversight; (27) and recruitment efforts by representatives from countries suspected of having WMD ambitions have not abated. (28)

Perhaps even more important is the fact that the post-Soviet 'brain drain' is not without recent precedent in other parts of the world, (29) suggesting that the problem of expertise diffusion is not limited exclusively to the region of the FSU. Although so-called "citizen participation" laws have been a part of nonproliferation legislation in the United States for many years, other countries, including former Soviet States, lack similarly legislated disincentives.

Similarly, export controls on sensitive information and know-how, even if such information is unclassified, need to be strengthened. This need was brought to light by three US General Accounting Office reports published in 1988, 1989, and 1996, which found that problems with a leakage of "unclassified but potentially sensitive nuclear-related information" were occurring at US nuclear weapons laboratories. (30) The reports stated that countries suspected of developing nuclear weapons and others considered sensitive by the US Department of Energy (DOE) had obtained computer codes developed by the laboratories and reports on nuclear explosives and special cameras, sometimes "directly from laboratory personnel." (31) Problems with "inadequate prescreening of foreign visitors" and "poor identification and review of visits that could involve potentially sensitive subjects" were also identified in the reports, which noted that the average number of visitors from "sensitive countries" during the 1993 96 timeframe had increased 225 percent over the 1986 87 time period. Most (93 percent) were from China, India, Israel, Taiwan, and the FSU. (32)

As an extension to shoring up export controls on know-how, legislating ongoing nonproliferation education for those with nuclear weapon-related expertise may also serve useful ends. In the words of one noted scientist: "[E]fforts to control proliferation will increasingly depend on finding ways to increase the awareness of [scientific] experts… about the potential danger of the information they carry in their heads." (33)

Finally, nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZs) can serve as useful tools to bolster safeguards related to nuclear expertise. Currently, only the Treaty of Pelindaba expressly prohibits research on nuclear explosive devices, and only the Treaty of Pelindaba and the Treaty of Rarotonga "make it clear that the bans cover explosive devices also in unassembled and partly assembled forms." (34) NWFZ proposals for Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and other regions and countries have received favorable attention in recent years. These proposals should include provisions explicitly proscribing R&D activities related to nuclear explosive devices, whether in assembled, partly assembled, or unassembled forms. This simple step would set an important precedent for future NWFZs and significantly shore up safeguards related to weapon-related expertise by banning the substantive content out of which such expertise would grow.


Regime deficiencies related to nuclear expertise proliferation, of which the post-Soviet 'brain drain' and sensitive information leakage from the United States are indicative, need to be corrected, though much that is already being done is helpful.

The 'brain drain' is receiving attention from programs such as the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow, its fraternal twin in Kiev, the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU), the DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, US-Russian lab-to-lab initiatives (e.g., nuclear material protection, control, and accountability [MPC&A]), and other international and private initiatives. These programs typically operate on comparatively small budgets, at grass-roots levels, and with amazing success, providing former Soviet weapons scientists with opportunities to redirect their expertise to civilian purposes.

But these and other ad hoc prescriptions cannot possibly be expected to continue indefinitely, and were not envisaged to do so. Neither will their limited budgets allow them to reach the thousands of workers whose skills may not include nuclear weapon design, but which are nonetheless sufficiently sensitive to be a significant proliferation risk.

Workers in Russia's "plutonium cities" (Chelyabinsk-65, Tomsk-7, and Krasnoyarsk-26), for example, where only two ISTC projects are under way, are facing uncertain futures as the "closure of ten plutonium production reactors has already made thousands of people redundant," and the closure of the remaining reactors, reprocessing plants, and support facilities as agreed by the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission may create further job losses. (35) The above "expertise retooling" programs have focused on the most highly experienced experts, and officials in closed cities concede that "[f]inding alternative employment for the workers and technicians… is a more serious problem." (36) Also, following the initial phase of the successful US-Russian MPC&A effort, the program will only retain a handful of core specialists, while the majority of workers will be let go. (37)

Information leakage from the United States is also being corrected, although it is unlikely that the problem will go away completely there or in other countries. In recent press reports, US nuclear laboratories have defended their security measures. This, notwithstanding the fact that the labs, citing insufficient resources to "keep up with the requests," conducted background checks on only 16 percent of the more than 5,000 visitors from "sensitive countries" between 1993 and 1996. (38) Given the difficulty the DOE faces in attempting to steady the inherently shaky equilibrium of its two-fold mission - to protect the national security and to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energymbol">¾ it seems incumbent upon the nuclear labs to be particularly vigilant in safeguarding sensitive nuclear expertise.

A positive development in this regard is the recent establishment of the Interagency Commission on Information Security under the Russian Security Council. (39) Inasmuch as "unclassified but potentially sensitive nuclear-related information" is not the exclusive domain of the United States or Russia, similar problems in other NWS and NNWS are likely to come to light, if they have not already.

Responding in an ad hoc manner to expertise diffusion can serve short-term ends, even as the means may lead to long-term solutions. But regime incongruities, such as those codified in the NPT, too often act as precursors to larger problems, notwithstanding the NPT's importance to the regime. Countries working alone can accomplish some good in trying to prevent proliferation, but experience seems to suggest that only by collective cooperation can the desired result of safeguarding sensitive expertise be realized across-the-board. A multilateral program to address the issue in an integrated manner, such as a multinational secretariat, would serve such ends. (40)

To this end, regime members would do well to hold up long-held premises to the scrutiny of present-day realities and risks. Unlike the Iraqi case, the next watershed event may be resistant to a satisfactory international response.


1. Tadeusz Strulak, "The Nuclear Suppliers Group," The Nonproliferation Review 1 (Fall 1993), pp. 24
2. George Bunn and Roland M. Timerbaev, Nuclear Verification Under the NPT: What Should It Cover¾
How Far May It Go?
, Program for Promoting Nuclear Nonproliferation Study Five (University of Southampton, England: Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, 1994), p. 4.
3. Ibid.
Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties (Maxwell Airforce Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1996), p. 51.
5. See Henry Sokolski, "What Does the History of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Tell Us about Its Future?" in Sokolski, pp. 3 29.
6. Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Amending the Atomic Energy Act of 1954: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Agreements for Cooperation of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, 85th Congress, 2nd Session, 19 January, 1958, p. 3.
7. Weiss, p. 31. On the proliferation problems arising from the 'Atoms for Peace' program, see Albert Wohlstetter, et al, Swords from Ploughshares: The Military Potential of Civilian Nuclear Energy (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1977), pp. x xiv.
8. For example, see Randall Forsberg, William Driscoll, Gregory Webb, and Jonathan Dean, Nonproliferation Primer: Preventing the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995), pp. 48, 49; Thomas B. Cochran and Christopher E. Paine, The Role of Hydronuclear Tests and Other Low-Yield Nuclear Explosions and Their Status Under a Comprehensive Test Ban, Nuclear Weapons Databook (Washington, D.C.: Natural Resources Defense Council, April 1995), pp. 3- 6, 33; Graham T. Allison, Owen R. Cote, Jr., Richard A. Falkenrath, and Steven E. Miller, Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy: Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 55 62, 222- 228; Thomas C. Schelling, "Who Will Have the Bomb?," International Security, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 1976), pp. 77 91; J. Mark Carson, Theodore Taylor, Eugene Eyster, William Maraman, and Jacob Wechsler, "Can Terrorists Build Nuclear Weapons?," in Paul Leventhal and Yonah Alexander, eds., Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: The Report and Papers of the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1987), pp. 55 65; David M. Rosenbaum, "Nuclear Terror," International Security, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Winter 1977), pp. 140 161; and Mason Willrich and Theodore B. Taylor, Nuclear Theft: Risks and Safeguards (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 5 28.
9. Schelling, p. 78.
10. See David Albright, "Engineer for Hire," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 1993, pp. 29 36. Iraq's senior-level engineers and scientists were trained in the West (and FSU) where they obtained a solid theoretical foundation, but lacked the hands-on experience necessary to convert ideas into workable weapons. Iraq therefore recruited "'lower level' engineers [from abroad] to work on translating ideas into hardware." Personal correspondence from United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspector, 3 July, 1996.
11. On this point, see R. Adam Moody, "Proliferation Implications of the Brain Drain," Post-Soviet Prospects, Vol. IV, No. 12 (December 1996), pp. 2 4.
12. Oleg Bukharin, "The Future of Russia's Plutonium Cities," International Security, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Spring 1997), p. 127.
13. Schelling, p. 78 (asterisked footnote). In late 1985, another independent study on the same subject said: "The number of specialists required [to construct a crude nuclear weapon] would depend on the background and experience of those enlisted, but their number could scarcely be fewer than three or four and might well have to be more." See Leventhal and Alexander, p. 58.
14. Leventhal and Alexander, p. 58.
15. Telephone interview with Sy Stein, M.D., Guest Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center and Professor of Physiology at San Jose State University, 22 November, 1992; Adam Treiger, "Plugging the Russian Brain Drain: Criminalizing Nuclear-Expertise Proliferation." Georgetown Law Journal 82 (November 1993), p. 238 (footnote 10).
16. David Albright, "A Curious Conversion," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 1993, p. 9. According to Cochran and Paine, p. 4 (footnote 2), who cite a May 1994 report from the Institute for Science and International Security, "the South African bomb was… 25 inches in diameter and 6 feet long and weighed 2000 lb., while Little Boy was 28 inches in diameter, 10 feet long and weighed 9000 lb." In neither case was nuclear testing used to verify weapon reliability.
17. According to Albright, these challenges included designing a gun barrel "able to withstand the firing of a high-density uranium plug, which is about ten times denser than a normal artillery shell and generates ten times as much pressure on the barrel breach." This, despite the use of specialized gun barrels supplied by the US Navy.
18. Joint Economic Committee, Arms Trade and Proliferation in the Middle East: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Technology and National Security of the Joint Economic Committee, 102nd Congress, 2nd Session, 13 March, 1992, p. 25. See also Treiger, pp. 246 250.
19. Quoted in Elaine Sciolino, "Soviet Brain Drain Poses Atomic Risk, US Report Warns," New York Times, 1 January, 1992, pp. A1, A5.
20. "A New Challenge After the 'Cold War': Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction," JPRS Report (draft), pp. 12, 14. The report was later printed as a JPRS Report Annex, "New Post-Cold War Challenge: Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction," in JPRS-TND-93-007, 5 March, 1993.
21. Personal correspondence from deputy director of a private US program that funds peaceful scientific research in the FSU, 18 September, 1997. The source requested anonymity due his inability to confirm whether the incident referred to, in which a "former Soviet weapons scientist" had gone to Iran to work and could not receive funding until he returned to his home institute, involved peaceful or military work.
22. Telephone interview with UNSCOM inspector, 31 October, 1997.
23. Vera Voinova, "They Are Deserting Russia: Who and Why," Russian Politics and Law (January/February 1995), pp. 60 63. The article was based on the results of a study conducted by the Demographic Center of the Institute for Sociopolitical Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
24. US House of Representatives, Updated Report Concerning the Emigration Laws and Policies of the Russian Federation, 105th Congress, 1st Session, House Document 105-31, 4 February, 1997, pp. 3 6. The report also says that there are an estimated 5,000 6,000 persons who have been denied emigration on the basis of State secrets, but who have not appealed the decision.
25. "The Nuclear Weapons Complexes: Meeting the Conversion Challenge," workshop convened by the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, 24-25 May, 1997, at the Russian Academy for State Service, Moscow, Russia, Annex Three, pp. 11 13.
26. Personal interviews with individuals from the FSU working in the United States on temporary contracts, July September 1997. This trend is particularly evident at US universities, where many from the FSU go for higher educational training. Many intend to return following graduation, but decide to stay because working conditions (and opportunities) are more favorable. Also indicative of this trend is the number of emigrants under the US "Soviet Scientist Immigration Act of 1992" (SSIA). The SSIA was designed to give free passage to up to 750 scientists with expertise related to WMD. Of the 147 scientists who had taken advantage of this legislation by the end of 1996, only two had physically emigrated. The remaining 145 were already in the United States under temporary visas, but had subsequently applied for and were granted permanent visa status under the SSIA. Statistics obtained from US Immigration and Naturalization Service, Statistics Division, Demographic Statistics Branch, Washington, D.C.
27. This trend is particularly troubling given Russia's ongoing cooperative commercial relationship with countries suspected of harboring nuclear weapons ambitions (e.g., nuclear reactor deals with Iran, India, and most recently Libya). The possibility that piecemeal proliferation may occur under the guise of legitimate trade is great. Personal correspondence from US State Department official, 18 September 1997. See also Emily Ewell and Holly Tomasik, "Nuclear Export Controls of the Russian Federation: A Status Report," report prepared by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies for the Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the US Department of Energy, December 1996, pp. 31-40.
28. Telephone interview with Steve Younger, Director, Nuclear Weapons Technologies Programs, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 16 September, 1997. See also US Department of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, April 1996), pp. 5 6, 13 14, 18, 25, 27; "Scientists, Engineers, and Proliferation of Weapons Technology," statement of Glenn E. Schweitzer, Director, Office for Central Europe and Eurasia, National Research Council, before the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Governmental Affairs, 13 March, 1996; and Anatoliy Verbin, "Russia Detains Iranian Seeking Arms Plans," Reuter (Moscow), 14 November, 1997.
29. Three representative cases are the "contract emigration" of Brazilian rocket engineers to Iraq, the surreptitious transfer of nuclear weapon information by a French nuclear physicist to Russia, and the alleged transfer of long-range missile expertise to Libya by a German space technologist. See Jayme Brener, "Dr. Von Braun's Return," Istoe (San Paulo), 16 February, 1994, pp. 58, 59; in JPRS-TND-94-006 (16 March 1994), pp. 17, 18; Vitaliy Dymarskiy, "Everything from Pencils to State Secrets on Sale (English translation)," Segodnya, [Online] http://home.eastview.com/news/dg/97, 1 November, 1997; and Thomas Scheuer, "Missile Expert Kayser Under Fire," Focus, 2 September, 1997, pp. 106, 107; in FBIS-TAC-97-245 (2 September 1997). Following World War II, large numbers of German scientists moved (usually without choice) to the United States under Projects Paperclip and Overcast. See John Gimbel, "US Policy and German Scientists: The Early Cold War," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 101, No. 3, 1986, pp. 433 451. Other German scientists, who were transferred to the Soviet Union, were instrumental in helping the Soviets harness nuclear fission. See Mark Walker, German National Socialism and the Quest for Nuclear Power: 1939 1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 184. During the economic downturn of the 1950s in the United Kingdom, large numbers of British scientists including radar and communications specialists emigrated to the United States and Canada. See Treiger, p. 238 (footnote 10).
30. US General Accounting Office, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Better Controls Needed Over Weapons-Related Information and Technology, GAO/RCED-89-116 (June 1989), pp. 8 36. US General Accounting Office, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Major Weaknesses in Foreign Visitor Controls at weapons Laboratories, GAO/RCED-89-31 (October 1988), pp. 8 41. See also US General Accounting Office, DOE Security: Information on Foreign Visitors to the Weapons Laboratories, GAO/T-RCED-96-260, 26 September, 1996 (http://www.securitymanagement.com/library). 31. GAO/RCED-89-116, p. 16.
32. GAO/T-RCED-96-260 (Chapters 0:2 and 0:3).
33. Albright, "Engineer for Hire," p. 36.
34. Jozef Goldblat, "Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones: A History and Assessment," The Nonproliferation Review 4 (Spring-Summer 1997), p. 31.
35. Bukharin, p. 134.
36. "The Nuclear Weapons Complexes: Meeting the Conversion Challenge," p. 11.
37. Telephone interview with MPC&A program manager, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 19 September, 1997.
38. See John Diamond, "Rep. Rips Lax Nuclear Security," Washington Post, [Online] http://www.washingtonpost.com, 31 October, 1997.
39. See "Statute of the Interagency Commission on Information Security of the Russian Federation Security Council," Rossiiskaya gazeta, 2 October, 1997, p. 4; in FBIS-SOV-97-293 (20 October 1997).
40. This recommendation is credited to Janne Nolan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. See Joint Economic Committee, Arms Trade and Proliferation in the Middle East: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Technology and National Security of the Joint Economic Committee, 102nd Congress, 2nd Session, 13 March, 1992, p. 36.

R. Adam Moody is a Senior Research Associate on the Monitoring Proliferation Threats Project at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, California.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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