Dangerous international transfers

This page contains links to commentary, testimony and reports by the Wisconsin Project regarding export sales that have enabled countries to make mass destruction weapons.  These materials also discuss the impact and implications of such sales.


Twenty Five Years of Transshipments Through the United Arab Emirates 6/2/09 - Wisconsin Project. During the past quarter century, the United Arab Emirates have enjoyed a unique position in the world: they, more than any other country, have helped illicit traders mask the true destination of cargo.

Iran's Nuclear Web

2/13/07 - New York Times.  Sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program should ensnare subsidiaries and affiliates of guilty companies, in addition to the companies themselves.

Testimony on U.S. India Nuclear Cooperation

4/26/06 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations This legislation puts the United States at risk because it is impossible to weaken export controls for India without weakening them for everyone else. The “everyone else” includes Iran, Pakistan, and even terrorist groups that might want to buy the means to make mass destruction weapons.

Yushchenko’s Scorecard: Peace without Security?

11/22/05 - Wisconsin Project Commentary.  Ukraine’s most frightening problem has been its tendency to export missiles – twelve Kh-55 cruise missiles were sold illegally to Iran in 2001, with six more sold to China.

Export Controls and the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

3/17/04 - Before the House Committee on Armed Services
The president has just described what one Pakistani scientist, plus a handful of his henchmen, have been able to achieve during the past decade. To Libya, Iran and North Korea, they supplied components for high-speed gas centrifuges, and to Libya, they even sold the design for an actual nuclear weapon. The failure of the United States to detect or to close down this arms bazaar must rank as one of the great mistakes of our time.

Nukes 'R' Us

3/4/04 - New York Times.  Despite its role as the key transfer point in Dr. A. Q. Khan's atomic bazaar, America’s ally Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is escaping punishment.

Iran's Nuclear Program and Imports of Sensitive Technology

9/17/03 - Before the US-Israeli Joint Parliamentary Committee
Imports have fueled virtually all of Iran's known weapon capability. Over the past decade, the United States has sanctioned at least nineteen Chinese firms for contributing to Iran's chemical and other weapon programs, and at least ten Russian entities for helping Iran build missiles.  Examples of Iran's acquisitions are set out in the following table.

The Means to Make the Poisons Came From the West Graphic

4/13/03 - New York Times Week in Review.  A list of the countries from which Iraq obtained the ingredients, equipment, and munitions for its chemical weapon program.

A Vile Business

3/24/03 - Wall Street Journal.  No one knows how many germs, poisons, and missile parts U.S. forces may find in Iraq, but we do know that most of what Saddam imported came from our European allies.

Psst ... Can I Get A Bomb Trigger?

9/15/02 - New York Times.  A list of items useful for making nuclear weapons that have been sold to countries known to be interested in developing such weapons.

Export Control and Arms Proliferation: China and Russia

6/6/02 - Before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs,
Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services

If we look around the world today, and ask what are the "pacing items" in the spread of mass destruction weapons, the answer is clear: they are Chinese and Russian exports. If we look back over the past several years, we see that China and Russia have done the following.

China's Proliferation Record

10/12/01 - Before the U.S.-China Security Review Commission
Since 1980, China has sold billions of dollars' worth of nuclear weapon, chemical weapon and missile technology to South Asia and the Middle East. For a comprehensive look at China's export activities, I invite the Commission to examine the charts prepared by the Wisconsin Project entitled "China's Dangerous Exports" that are available in your briefing packets.

Shopping with Saddam Hussein

7/01 - Commentary Magazine.  A catalogue of  purchases by Saddam Hussein’s regime in violation of the U.N. embargo.

UN Sanctions Didn't Stop Iraq from Buying Weapons

6/18/01 - New York Times.  The Times reports on revelations by the Wisconsin Project that Iraq continued to buy prohibited weapons and weapon parts, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, long after the U.N. embargo imposed in 1990.

Technology Two-Timing

3/19/01 - Asian Wall Street Journal.  Huawei Technologies, one of China's leading makers of communication networks, has helped Iraq outfit its air defenses with fiber optic equipment in violation of the international embargo.

The Situation in Iraq

3/22/00 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
Three items are submitted for the record. The first is an article I recently published in the New Yorker detailing Iraq's use of the oil-for-food program to buy components that can trigger nuclear weapons. The second is a table my organization prepared after the inspectors left Iraq in 1998, which lists what remains unaccounted for in Iraq's mass destruction weapon programs. The third is a chart on Saddam Hussein's procurement network that my organization prepared a few years ago but which is still relevant to the issues we face today.  

Dept. of Mass Destruction: Saddam's nuclear shopping spree.

12/13/99 - New Yorker.  Saddam Hussein shops for high-speed switches suitable for triggering atomic bombs, claiming they are for medical equipment.

Executive Summary

Section I, Part A - Dual-Use American Equipment Licensed for Export to China, 1988 - 1998 (PDF)

Section I, Part B - U.S. Equipment Approved for Chinese Nuclear, Missile or Military Sites

Section II - Espionage and Diversions (PDF)

Section III - China: The Strategic Outlook (PDF)

Section IV - China's Dangerous Exports(PDF)

4/99 - Wisconsin Project Report. U.S. Exports to China 1988-1998: Fueling Proliferation

During the past decade, the U.S. Commerce Department approved more than $15 billion worth of strategically sensitive U.S. exports to the People's Republic of China. The exports included equipment that can be used to design nuclear weapons, process nuclear material, machine nuclear weapon components, improve missile designs, build missile components and transmit data from missile tests. Some of this equipment went directly to leading nuclear, missile and military sites -- the main vertebrae of China's strategic backbone. And several of these Chinese buyers later supplied nuclear, missile and military equipment to Iran and Pakistan.

Cooperation in Space and Missiles

6/25/98 - Before the House Committee on Science
This testimony will discuss the U.S. policy of cooperation with foreign space programs and the risk that it will contribute to the spread of missile technology.  The history of India's biggest nuclear missile, the Agni, proves that you cannot help a country build space launchers without helping it build missiles.

Made in America? How US Exports Helped Fuel the South Asian Arms Race

6/07/98 - Washington Post.  India and Pakistan are poised to build missiles that could deliver the bomb deep into each other's territory. The United States deplores these developments, but along with other countries, stands guilty of supplying much of the necessary technology.

China's WMD Exports

10/8/97 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
These remarks will cover three subjects: First, China's exports to countries that are trying to make weapons of mass destruction, second, the strategic impact of American exports to China, and third, nuclear cooperation between the United States and China. The attached tables list China's exports of nuclear, chemical and missile technology since 1980.

Iran's WMD Helpers

5/6/97 - Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
The Subcommittee has asked who is helping Iran build weapons of mass destruction. By now China has been selling Iran ingredients and equipment to make poison gas for at least five years. U.S. officials say that the poison gas sales had continued to the present time, unabated.

China Cheats (What a Surprise!)

4/24/97 - New York Times.  Satellite photos reveal that CATIC, a state-owned Chinese company, deliberately deceived Washington officials in 1994 when it claimed it was importing American machine tools for civilian purposes. Instead, it diverted them illegally to a missile factory.

The Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

3/20/96 - Before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
The Subcommittee has asked me to describe how proliferant countries are getting what they need, and to suggest what the United States should do to reduce the threat.  Attached is a list of China's nuclear and missile exports to the Islamic countries from 1980 to 1994, and China's promises to stop these exports.

China's Cynical Calculation

4/24/95 - New York Times.  The United States has sniffed out a series of secret shipments of Chinese poison-gas ingredients to Iran over the last three years but has declined to impose sanctions on Beijing.

Plutonium Plunder

9/5/94 - Boston Sunday Globe.  German police report a flood of nuclear smuggling cases from the former Soviet Bloc, with more than half a pound of plutonium confiscated in the Munich airport on a flight from Moscow.

Who Armed Iraq? (PDF, 1.06 MB)*

7/18/93 - New York Times Week in Review.  A graphic showing which countries supplied Saddam Hussein’s nuclear and missile programs.

Knocking on the Clubhouse Door (PDF, 669 KB)*

1/10/93 - New York Times Week in Review.  A graphic showing dangerous transfers of nuclear and missile technology worldwide since 1990.

US Exports to Iraq 10/27/92 - Before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
The Committee has asked whether American exports aided Iraq's effort to build weapons of mass destruction. The short answer is "yes." In June 1991, my organization released a study of the dual-use exports that the U.S. Commerce Department had approved for Iraq since 1985. I would like to offer the study today for inclusion in this committee's hearing record.

Iraq's Bomb, Chip by Chip

4/24/92 - New York Times.  A list of sensitive American products licensed between 1985 and 1990 for export to Iraq by the U.S. Commerce Department.  Virtually all of the items were shipped, all are useful for making atomic bombs or long-range missiles, and all went to buyers linked to A-bomb or missile manufacture.

Building Saddam Hussein's Bomb

3/8/92 - New York Times Magazine.  How Western firms helped Iraq’s drive for nuclear weapons.

Soviet Nuclear Breakup -- Promise or Peril?

1/92 - International Affairs.  A history of dangerous Soviet exports, and suggestions about what to do with nuclear weapons inherited by countries in the former Soviet bloc.

A New China Syndrome: Beijing's Atomic Bazaar

5/12/91 - Washington Post.  China continues a long line of dangerous nuclear exports to South Asia, South Africa, South America and the Middle East.

The Brazilian Bomb

8/13/90 - New Republic.  A group of European companies has agreed to sell Brazil the technology to build a rocket capable of becoming an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Asia's Nuclear Nightmare: The German Connection

6/10/90 - Washington Post.  If fighting erupts between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, each side must assume the other will deploy and possibly use an atomic bomb. If such a thing happens, West German exports will be primarily to blame.

Poison Gas Laws: Still Leaking

3/25/90 - New York Times.  The fire at Libya's poison-gas plant in Rabta did not solve the problem of chemical arms proliferation or mitigate West Germany's leading role in the spread of nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and long-range missiles.  U.S. officials say West German companies are still secretly exporting dangerous materials and technologies.

India's Missiles - With a Little Help from Our Friends

11/89 - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  India becomes the first country to test a strategic missile derived from a civilian space program—launched and sustained by foreign help.

Israel's Reactor in Full Swing -- With Norwegian Heavy Water

7/6/89 - Aftenposten.  Israel's Dimona reactor makes plutonium every year for atomic bombs with Norwegian heavy water, despite a promise to let Norway verify that the heavy water would be used for peaceful purposes.

Bombs for the World

1/13/89 - Die Zeit (English Translation).  Germany's help to Libya's poison gas plant--just revealed by the New York Times--is only part of a more sordid history of dangerous exports. For at least a decade, German firms have been the main suppliers of secret A-bomb programs around the world.

Bonn's Proliferation Policy

1/4/89 - New York Times.  It should come as no surprise that a West German company has been accused of helping Libya build a plant to produce poison gas. If true, this is only the latest in a long line of irresponsible West German exports.  To promote trade, Bonn has kept its export laws weak and doesn't want to tighten them.

3 Scandals Oslo Must Put to Rest

10/7/88 - International Herald Tribune.  Norway is facing three scandals caused by the sale of heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors that produce plutonium, the preferred material for making atomic bombs.  Israel's Dimona reactor, which is producing plutonium for bombs, is being operated with Norwegian heavy water and India's newest reactors are also using Norwegian heavy water, diverted by a West German firm in 1983.

Norway's Heavy Water Scandals

9/14/88 - Aftenposten (Oslo).  In reaction to the use of its heavy water exports to make nuclear weapons, Norway should stand up for its rights, and put the blame for these scandals where it belongs—on Israel, India and Germany.

A Heavy Water Whitewash

4/20/88 - Arbeiderbladet (Oslo).  Israel has a duty to comply with its pledge to restrict Norway’s heavy water to peaceful use, and to explain what it has done with the plutonium that Norway's water has made.

New Nuclear Follies?

11/25/87 - New York Times.  For nearly 30 years, countries have sold nuclear materials around the world in exchange for a pledge by importing nations to use the materials for peaceful purposes, but it now appears that Israel has broken the pledge, France may have broken it also, and Norway’s civilian exports have gone widely into bombs.

Heavy Water Cheaters

Winter 1987-88 - Foreign Policy.  How Israel, France, and India used imports of heavy water and broken promises to make atomic bombs, and how Norway helped.

How Many Norwegian A-bombs Do You Have?

10/24/87 - Arbeiderbladet (Oslo).  Israel has rejected Norway's request for international inspection of the heavy water Norway sent to Israel in 1959.  As a result, Norway will do its own inspection, but what should a Norwegian inspection do?

India's Back Door to the Atomic Club

9/29/87 - Philadelphia Inquirer.  India has threatened to convert to weapon status plutonium made from civilian reactor fuel imported from the United States.

Israel's Answer a Fabrication

5/11/87 - Arbeiderbladet (Oslo).  In 1965, Kirk Douglas led a group of courageous Norwegians across the silver screen to stop the Nazis from using Norway’s heavy water to make atomic bombs.  Now, a second group of Norwegians -- this time political leaders -- must stop Israel from succeeding where the Nazis failed.

Who Controls the Israeli Bomb?

1/21/87 - Arbeiderbladet (Oslo).  The revelations of an Israeli arms technician, and a string of U.S. intelligence reports, have established beyond much doubt that Israel has the bomb.  But there is a second fact about Israel's bomb that few people know: Norway has the right--and the obligation--to control it.