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 »
HOSTAGE SITUATION
Multiple Deaths, Injuries from Van Attack in Barcelona
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
“PUBLICITY SEEKING”
Trump Blasts Graham, Flake on Twitter
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

As part of a twitter rant on Thursday morning, President Trump singled out Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham for criticism. He said Flake is "WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!" Trump also named Flake's primary challenger, Kelli Ward. He said Graham's contention that Trump suggested a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the counter-protesters is a "disgusting lie."

Source:
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

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