Publications: Articles and Commentary

This page contains the Wisconsin Project’s articles and commentary on the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Subjects include China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea and export controls.


More on the North Korean Vessel Seized in Panama 7/17/13 - Wisconsin Project. On July 12, authorities in Panama boarded and searched the Chong Chon Gang, a North Korean-flagged cargo vessel returning from Cuba and preparing to transit the Panama Canal. The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control has analyzed the voyage history of the Chong Chon Gang and related vessels over the past decade.
Rep. Markey Slams New Export Rule Favoring Chinese Company 6/10/09 - Wisconsin Project. Rep. Markey cites data from the Project about the latest Chinese company granted preferred export status, showing risk of diversion from the company to Iran or Syria.
Chinese Exports to Iran 4/7/09 - Wisconsin Project. A summary of analysis provided to the Manhattan District Attorney's office related to its investigation of missile and nuclear technology sales from Chinese firms to Iran.
An Arms Race We're Sure to Lose 9/29/08 - New York Times. Iran may achieve a virtual nuclear weapon capability by January 2009, despite the Bush administration’s estimate that there is a lot more time for diplomacy and sanctions to work.
In Iran We Trust? 12/6/07 - New York Times. Iran Watch Bulletin argues that the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is both misleading and dangerous.

U.S. failure to follow through on Iran sanctions is baffling

5/31/07 - World Politics Review. The United States now lags other countries in enforcing U.N. sanctions against Iran. 

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.

A bad deal of mythic proportions

11/8/06 - Wisconsin Project.  The Senate should reject the new nuclear trade pact with India.

Russia's Sweetheart Deal for Iran

2/1/06 - New York Times.  A deal in which Iran would shift its commercial enrichment work to Russia poses more problems than it solves. 

Yushchenko’s Scorecard: Peace without Security?

11/22/05 - Wisconsin Project.  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.

Don't Underestimate the Mullahs

8/23/05 - New York Times.  We should be alarmed rather than comforted by the administration’s latest prediction of how long it will take Iran to develop the bomb.

A Shell Game in the Arms Race

2/25/05 - New York Times.  Although the administration has scolded China for allowing its companies to spread weapons technology, such talk is undermined by the State Department's own failure to check Chinese companies' reckless sales. 

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.

Brazil's Nuclear Puzzle

10/22/04 - Science Magazine.  Brazil plans to commission a uranium enrichment plant that, if configured to do so, could fuel several nuclear weapons annually.

U.N. Resolution Could Close Nuclear Loopholes

3/30/04 - Wisconsin Project.  The United States, Britain, France, China and Russia have asked the U.N. Security Council to endorse a resolution requiring all countries in the world to close their territory to any group that tries to make or acquire nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or the means to deliver them.

Iran's Nuclear Card

2/04 - Commentary Magazine.  Iran’s three most likely paths to nuclear weapon capability.

Nuclear Breakout in the Middle East?

12/11/03 -  With the nuclear resurgence of Iran, Israel’s monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East could end, with consequences that are difficult to foresee.

What's 'Cheating' in Farsi?

11/13/03 - Wall Street Journal.  The International Atomic Energy Agency concludes that Iran's secret nuclear efforts for 18 years in violation of its inspection agreements may not indicate an intention to build nuclear weapons.

The Mullahs and the Bomb

10/23/03 - New York Times.  Iran has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for trade, but the deal won't prevent Iran from making the bomb and may drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

Iran's Nuclear Program: For Electricity or a Bomb?

8/3/03 - New York Times Week in Review.  The steps needed to fuel a nuclear weapon or a reactor for making electricity, and the difficulty of telling the steps apart.

We Still Face the Menace of Iraq's Hidden Horrors

5/22/03 - Los Angeles Times.  The need to account for materials and equipment that U.N. inspectors said were in Iraq before the recent invasion.

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.

Hans the Irrelevant

1/28/03 - Wall Street Journal.  The IAEA reports that Iraq has failed to accept its obligation to disarm and to account for a long list of missing items.

Hans the Timid

11/26/02 - Wall Street Journal.  As the IAEA begins its search for Saddam Hussein's hidden programs for making nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, we should wish for success, but the odds are against it.

Iraq: The Snare of Inspections

10/02 - Commentary Magazine.  The shortcomings of international inspections in Iraq.

Why Iraq Will Defeat Arms Inspectors

9/16/02 - New York Times.  Whatever one's stance on how best to handle Saddam Hussein, it is crucial to understand one thing: U.N. inspections, as currently constituted, will never work.

Trading with the Enemy (Response)

9/02 - Commentary Magazine.  A U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce alleges that the article below contains “incorrect legal and factual assertions.”

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.

Sabotaging Security for a Buck

7/30/02 - Los Angeles Times.  The Bush administration improperly relied on false industry data to lower the barriers on the export of the United States' most powerful computers--machines that could be used to build the most fearsome weapons that terrorists could get their hands on.

Trading with the Enemy

5/02 - Commentary Magazine.  The White House is pushing a bill in Congress that would make it easier for terrorists and the nations that support them to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq: Will Deterrence Work?

3/22/02 - National Strategy Forum Review.  Could America deter Saddam Hussein from using chemical or biological agents against our troops, or would the threat to use such weapons deter a U.S. invasion?

Can Terrorists Get the Bomb?

2/02 - Commentary Magazine.  A list of the obstacles and opportunities in the path of a terrorist group seeking to get a nuclear weapon.

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.

Shopping with Saddam Hussein (Response)

10/01 - Commentary Magazine.  Former U.N. inspector Scott Ritter claims that the article below contains a “simplistic and somewhat disingenuous approach to the ongoing efforts to circumvent UN economic sanctions.”

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.

Document Reveals 1987 Bomb Test by Iraq

4/30/01 - New York Times.  The Wisconsin Project supplies to the Times a report on Iraq’s test of a radiation bomb, plus a diagram showing how the bomb was configured.

Grab for Money Could Arm Enemies of the U.S.

3/4/01 - Los Angeles Times.  As the Bush administration tries to counter "rogue nations," a Senate committee is pushing a bill that would make it easier for such nations to make nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

Fast Computers, Deadly Enemies

1/31/01 - New York Times.  President Bush should overturn President Clinton’s last-minute gift to Silicon Valley, a move to lower controls on the export of America's most powerful computers.

Clinton's Super Computer Push

9/19/00 - Asian Wall Street Journal.  After being lobbied by the U.S. computer industry, President Clinton lowered barriers that control the export of American supercomputers. Arms makers in China will soon be able to buy computers up to 14 times more powerful than the ones they were able to get only eight months ago.

The Real Nuclear Gap

6/16/00 - New York Times.  The Los Alamos National Laboratory has lost two computer hard drives full of weapon secrets; the lesson: sensitive information about nuclear weapons should be protected as carefully as nuclear hardware.

Exporting Trouble: With Looser Computer Controls, We're Selling Our Safety Short

3/12/00 - Washington Post.  The Clinton administration drops controls on the sale of powerful American supercomputers to foreign weapon makers.

Outfitting China's Military - Again

1/23/00 - Los Angeles Times.  Why does the U.S. Commerce Department want to allow a suspect Swiss conglomerate to sell a sensitive American product to a Chinese military aircraft plant? 

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.

What China Didn't Need to Steal

5/05/99 - New York Times.  The U.S. Commerce Department approved more than $15 billion worth of strategically sensitive exports to China in the last decade, much of which went directly to Chinese nuclear, missile, and military sites.

What the Inspectors Can't Find and Why they Can't Find it
Section 1 - Poison Gas
(PDF, 1.9 MB)*
Section 2 - Germ Warfare Agents, Nuclear Weapons, Ballistic Missiles
(PDF, 2.5 MB)*

12/20/98 - New York Times Week in Review.  A list of dangerous items in Iraq’s mass destruction weapon programs that are known to have existed but still have not been turned over to U.N. weapon inspectors.

Helping Others Build the Bomb

12/14/98 - Washington Post.  The Clinton administration has decontrolled the export of supercomputers based on a faulty study that GAO says "lacked empirical evidence or analysis" and failed to "assess the capabilities of countries . . . to use high-performance computers for military and other national security applications." 

Stop Exporting Nuclear Technology

10/14/98 - Los Angeles Times.  U.S experts have identified nearly 200 Indian and Pakistani organizations that are key to bomb and missile making, but after announcing that U.S. sales to such firms would be cut off--a step required by U.S. law--the Clinton administration is still dithering.

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.

Should We Sell Supercomputers to Algeria?

4/24/98 - New York Times.  The Clinton Administration quietly circumvents a law designed to keep American supercomputers away from third world bomb and missile makers.

The Pitfalls of Nuclear Trade with China

2/22/98 - Boston Sunday Globe.  Congress debates approval of President Clinton's recent pact allowing nuclear trade with China. Will the deal encourage China to continue exporting weapons of mass destruction?

New U.S. Controls on Supercomputers

1/98 - Risk Report.  At the Wisconsin Project’s urging, Congress rolls back the Clinton administration’s effort to decontrol the export of American supercomputers.

Could Iraq Have the Atomic Bomb?

11/19/97 - New York Times.  While the United States, Russia and other countries search for diplomatic solutions to the crisis in Iraq, the risk grows that the weapons inspectors will never again be able to do their jobs effectively.

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.

Rein In Technology Exports

2/26/97 - Los Angeles Times.  It should come as no surprise that Russian scientists are now designing nuclear weapons with powerful American supercomputers. When California-based Silicon Graphics improperly outfitted one of Russia's nuclear laboratories last fall, it was the inevitable result of the Clinton administration's penchant for putting export earnings above national security.

U.S. Says "No" to Supercomputers for Russia's Nuclear Weapon Labs

11/96 - Risk Report.  The Clinton administration refuses to allow the Russian nuclear weapon laboratories to buy American supercomputers, after the Wisconsin Project reveals the pending sale in the New York Times.

U.S. Democratic and Republican Party Platforms Disagree on Trade and Arms Control

9/96 - Risk Report.  A summary of the positions of the Democratic and Republican parties on export controls and nonproliferation. 

Exporting an Arms Race

02/20/96 - New York Times.  The White House is about to take one of the greatest national security gambles since the end of the cold war. To please the computer industry, the Clinton Administration is preparing to send powerful American supercomputers to Russian nuclear weapon laboratories.

Supercomputers: Pentagon Urges Reduction in Controls

10/95 - Risk Report.  The Pentagon urges other federal agencies to agree to reduce export controls on American supercomputers.

Japan Should Refuse American Pressure to Decontrol Supercomputers

9/28/95 - Yomiuri Shimbun (English translation).  The United States is getting ready to pressure Japan into lowering export controls on supercomputers, the most powerful instruments used to design nuclear and other advanced weapons. Japan should not agree unless it wants to undermine its own security.

Fire Sale

9/18/95 - New York Times.  The Defense Department will make it easier for Russia and China to improve their nuclear arsenals if it wins a quiet debate over exporting supercomputers, the most powerful instruments used to develop high-tech weapons.

US Relations with China

8/95 - Congressional Digest.  An argument that China’s trade privileges with the United States should be curtailed if China keeps on exporting the means to make weapons of mass destruction.

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.

The US Could Learn from Germany's New Export Controls

4/12/95 - Wall Street Journal Europe.  Germany is preparing to publish a list of dangerous customers to which exports must be controlled, moving it ahead of the United States in an export-control strategy to stop the spread of the bomb.

The US-DPRK Nuclear Accord

3/95 - Foresight (Tokyo) (English translation).  An analysis of the "agreed framework" with North Korea that froze that country’s plutonium production. 

Sanctions Felt Worldwide

3/95 - Risk Report.  A short summary of U.S. sanctions.

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.

Arsenals Abroad: Proliferation in Disguise

7/18/94 - New York Times.  The House takes up a bill that would make it easier for bomb-prone nations to import the means to make nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and the missiles to deliver them.

Promises, Promises (While Building the Bomb)

3/94 - New York Times Week in Review.  A history of North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons and the efforts to stop it.

Selling Self-Destruction: The Perils of Perry & Co.

2/6/94 - Washington Post.  William Perry, the new Secretary of Defense, makes no secret of his hostility to export controls, which are essential to stopping the spread of nuclear arms.

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.

The Iraqi Bomb: Who's Really Stopping the Inspectors from Doing Their Job?

2/1/93 - New Yorker.  International inspectors are working hard in Iraq, but some of their own managers (as well as Saddam) are keeping them from finding things.

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.

Winking at Proliferation

8/16/92 - Washington Post.  The Bush administration has published a list purporting to name the world's most dangerous rocket projects so that U.S. firms will not sell material to them. However, after political arm-twisting by foreign governments, the administration has deleted the name of every dangerous project in the Mideast.

Nuclear Needles in an Iraqi Haystack

6/28/92 - Washington Post.  The United Nations has begun unannounced helicopter flights to decapitate Iraq’s mass-destruction weapons complex, but inspection teams are running out of intelligence leads and still have not found all of Saddam's secret sites.

North Korea's Bomb

6/4/92 - New York Times.  The North Koreans are on the verge of making the bomb, and seven international inspectors are in Pyongyang this week belatedly trying to stop them. If they fail, North Korea will go nuclear, South Korea will feel the pressure to follow, and so will Japan.

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.

Keeping the Lid on Nuclear Arms

8/17/91 - New Scientist.  Argentina and Brazil agree not to produce nuclear weapons and pledge to open their nuclear sites to mutual inspection.

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.

Tug of war over high-tech exports March 1991 - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The recent move toward deregulation of multilateral export controls presents difficulties for controlling dual-use exports.

Designing the Third World Bomb

Winter 1990-91 - Wisconsin Academy Review.  A small group of U.S. officials may heighten the proliferation threat by approving the export of U.S. supercomputers to Brazil, Israel, and India.

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.

Must the U.S. Give Brazil and Iraq The Bomb?

7/29/90 - New York Times.  Senior officials in the Commerce and State Departments are supporting I.B.M.’s irresponsible attempt to put a supercomputer into the hands of a Brazilian team that is helping Iraq build long-range missiles and that could help it build atomic bombs.

Attention, Nuke-Mart Shoppers!

7/22/90 - Washington Post.  Through an apparent oversight, the Bush administration agreed in a Cocom meeting in June to decontrol 30 categories of strategic equipment--most of which are on the dream list of Third World bomb makers.

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.

Why Are We Helping the Third World Go Nuclear 4/1/90 - Washington Post. U.S. exports of supercomputers to Brazil, Israel, and India may be hastening the development of weapons of mass destruction in those countries.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stopping the Indian Bomb

7/87 - American Journal of International Law.  An argument for using U.S. controls over India’s nuclear program to restrict it to peaceful ends.

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.

Dateline New Delhi: India's Nuclear Cover-up

Fall 1986 - Foreign Policy.  India is illegally diverting heavy water from plants under international inspection, or has received secret imports (probably from China), or both.