Expert Urges Rethink of Curbing Tech Transfers as Nonproliferation Tool

An individual gazes at centrifuge uranium-enrichment engines in the Eurodif SA/George Besse 1 factory in southeastern France, circa May 2012. A new academic paper contends that technological export controls alone may be ineffective in stopping countries from pursuing nuclear arms.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Oswald
May 28, 2014, 10:58 a.m.

A new aca­dem­ic pa­per con­tends that the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity’s fo­cus on “sup­ply-side” tech­no­logy con­straints to stop nuc­le­ar pro­lif­er­a­tion is fail­ing.

In a pa­per pub­lished on Tues­day in In­ter­na­tion­al Se­cur­ity, R. Scott Kemp ar­gues that poli­cy­makers are overly re­li­ant on lim­it­ing in­ter­na­tion­al mar­ket ac­cess to cer­tain sens­it­ive tech­no­lo­gies and sub­stances that can be used to pro­duce nuc­le­ar fuel. This fol­lows the be­lief — which the au­thor thinks is “mis­guided” — that with the ex­cep­tion of a few ad­vanced in­dus­tri­al na­tions, a coun­try’s ca­pa­city to de­vel­op nuc­le­ar arms “hinges on its abil­ity” to im­port the ne­ces­sary equip­ment.

Kemp, an as­sist­ant pro­fess­or at the Mas­sachu­setts In­sti­tute of Tech­no­logy’s Nuc­le­ar Sci­ence and En­gin­eer­ing De­part­ment, ex­amined 21 cent­ri­fuge pro­grams around the world. He found that while ac­cess to tech­no­logy once served as a con­straint, it ceased do­ing so in the 1970s and 1980s. Kemp’s his­tor­ic­al ana­lys­is con­cludes that 14 coun­tries have been able to ac­quire gas cent­ri­fuges “us­ing only a min­im­um of tech­nic­al and hu­man re­sources” that ar­gu­ably could be at­tained by “many or most of today’s de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

“That this is pos­sible should not be sur­pris­ing: the tech­no­lo­gies needed to make nuc­le­ar weapons have re­mained stat­ic, where­as the in­di­gen­ous cap­ab­il­it­ies of states have stead­ily grown over the last half-cen­tury,” he wrote.

Kemp, a one­time sci­ence ad­viser on non­pro­lif­er­a­tion is­sues at the State De­part­ment, ar­gues that the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity should re­cal­ib­rate how much en­ergy it de­votes to “sup­ply-side” meas­ures, in con­trast to ap­proaches aimed at dis­suad­ing states from pur­su­ing atom­ic arms in the first place. In an in­ter­view with the MIT News of­fice, Kemp said, “We need to get past the idea that we can con­trol the des­tiny of na­tions by reg­u­lat­ing ac­cess to tech­no­logy. In­ter­na­tion­al se­cur­ity must ul­ti­mately re­sort to the dif­fi­cult busi­ness of polit­ics.”

At the same time, Kemp does not ar­gue for end­ing reg­u­la­tions on ac­cess to sens­it­ive nuc­le­ar tech­no­lo­gies al­to­geth­er. He notes that they are use­ful in con­strain­ing the spread of high­er-per­form­ance cent­ri­fuges, as well as “non­cent­ri­fuge modes of nuc­le­ar pro­lif­er­a­tion.”

In a lim­ited num­ber of cases — such as Libya and Ir­aq — sup­ply-side con­straints can ac­tu­ally bol­ster in­tern­al lim­it­a­tions a gov­ern­ment might face in es­tab­lish­ing the re­search in­fra­struc­ture ne­ces­sary to sup­port an ef­fect­ive war­head de­vel­op­ment pro­gram, Kemp said. Both coun­tries at­temp­ted to pur­sue nuc­le­ar weapon pro­grams dec­ades ago, but they were ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful.

What We're Following See More »
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
2 days ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Source:
BUSINESSES CAN’T PLEAD FIFTH
Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login