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European Judas:
Germany's Proliferation of WMD Technology

by Joachim Gruber

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Introduction: Nuclear Madness without Need

I. The Role of the United States As Compared to That of Germany

II. Germany's Proliferation into Iraq

III. Germany's Proliferation of Nuclear Technology to Brazil and Argentina

IV. Germany's Proliferaton of Nuclear Technology to the Indian Subcontinent

Further Reading


Introduction: Nuclear Madness without Need

German nuclear trade contributed remarkably little to Germany's economy as a whole and has had devastating impact on worldwide safety.
  1. "In the late 1970s and early 1980s West German nuclear exports made up less than one half percent of total West German exports (Atomwirtschaft, November 1981, 1984). In 1987 the West German government granted export licenses for nuclear goods valued at 2.7 billion DM (West Germany, Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 11/2120, p. 1). That year total West German exports came to 528.3 billion DM, which shows that relatively speaking nuclear exports have been insignificant for the western German economy as a whole." (C. Hofhansel, Commercial Competition and National Security: Comparing U.S. and German Export Control Policies, Praeger, 1996, p. 107 - in cache)
  2. "... for the higher danger fuel commodities, plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the system's gatekeepers are four of the de jure nuclear states - the US, France, China, USSR/Russia - plus a single non-weapon state, West Germany/Germany." (J. Hunt Morstein and W.D. Perry WD, Commercial Nuclear Trading Networks as Indicators of Nuclear Weapons Intentions, Nonproliferation Review/ Fall- Winter 2000, pages 85, 86. - in cache)
  3. "The network for higher danger reactors in 1985 - 89 has two clusters - one supplied by West Germany and one supplied by France." (Hunt Morstein and Perry, see (2))
  4. Enrichment equipment and plants for 1985-89 is a Hub-and-Spoke split between a Supply-Hub sub-network and a Demand-Hub sub-network. The Supply-Hub cluster is centered by West Germany." [see Figure 2 below], (Hunt Morstein and Perry, see (2)). 1985 - 1989 German government: Helmut Kohl (Christian Democratic Union)/Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Free Democratic Party)

    (In terms of explanation: Uranium based nuclear weapons need enriched uranium.)

Germany at the Center of a Supplier Network of Enrichtment Equipment

Germany has chosen not to exert adequate retransfer controls in violation of the intentions of Article I of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has thus assisted at least one non-nuclear-weapon state (Brazil) to manufacture nuclear weapons although it has been made aware of those problems by the Carter administration. (more violations)

The German government stated at the time that the "IAEA equivalent" inspections (as connected to the deal with Brazil) would suffice to preclude diversion of weapon grade material. It was known already then that in large-scale bulk handling plants even strict IAEA material accounting measures are insufficient to detect the diversion of "one significant quantity" (the amount necessary for a Hiroshima-size nuclear explosive): Measurement error exceeds one significant quantity by an order of magnitude, as has recently been experienced in the British reprocessing plant at Sellafield. Similar experience in the US weapons facilities was published in the early 1980s:

"It takes about 15 pounds of plutonium-239 or uranium-235 to fashion a crude nuclear device. The technology to enrich the isotopes is available for about one million dollars. It is clearly possible that terrorists could acquire both the isotopes and the technology needed to enrich them. This possibility has surfaced in the news since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent revelation of a thriving "black market" in such materials.

In an inventory taken between October, 1980, and March, 1981, the U.S. government could not account for about 55 pounds of plutonium and 159 pounds of uranium from its weapons facilities. The explanation given for this Missing material was "accounting error" and that the materials were "stuck in the piping" (Critical Mass Energy Journal, July, 1982)."
Source: Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Energy Information Service, August 31, 2004 (in cache).

Thus, contrary to German government assertions, diversion of one significant quantity of weapon grade material from such a plant might therefore escape detection, which is why 1977 US President Carter banned commercial reprocessing (President Carter announced his plutonium deferral policy).
What the United States should do about reprocessing and plutonium use, both domestically and internationally, became an election year issue in 1976. President Gerald Ford issued a nuclear policy statement that plutonium was at the root of the security problem associated with nuclear energy. Once separated from the radioactive waste contained in spent fuel, the material could rapidly be put to military use. President Ford stated that reprocessing, that is chemical separation of plutonium, "should not proceed unless there is a sound reason to conclude that the world community can effectively overcome the associated risks of proliferation." In perhaps his boldest step, he announced that the United States would act domestically in a way that was consistent with what we asked of others. The United States would no longer in its energy planning assume future reliance on plutonium fuel. He said that he believed that we could make use of nuclear energy, and even increase reliance on it, with this security restriction. "We must be sure," he said, "that all nations recognize that the U.S. believes that nonproliferation objectives must take precedence over economic and energy benefits if a choice must be made." To this day, US policy on spent fuel assumes that it will be disposed in a repository on a "once through" basis, that is, without reprocessing, although the current reason for this probably has more to do with economics than with security. (Source: Victor Gilinsky, Marvin Miller, Harmon Hubbard, A Fresh Examination of the Proliferation Dangers of Light Water Reactors, final report of NPEC's project on Light Water Reactors. (in cache, May 26, 2006)

Transatlantic relationship is about concrete issues. Proliferation of dual-use technology is a major one of these. In his address "Weapons of Mass Destruction as Challenge for German-American Relations" (in cache) to the Annual Conference of the Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, February 12, 2004, Karsten D. Voigt, Coordinator of German-American Cooperation at the Federal Foreign Office (Bundesaussenministerium) referred to "President [George W. Bush']s speech (in cache) yesterday as an offer to engage the world in general, and the European allies in particular, in a strategic dialogue on these important issues". He advocated transatlantic cooperation instead of conflicting disagreement. As of 2. June 2005 concrete action has not been specified on the Foreign Office website.

Are we about to leave a path that we chose in the 1970s and 1980s that disregarded the abyss our economically entirely unnecessary proliferation policy has opened up in the world?

  • Text of U.S. - EU Declaration on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, June 26, 2004, in cache.
  • David Albright, Paul Brannan and Andrea Scheel-Stricker, "Detecting and Disrupting Illicit Nuclear Trade after A.Q. Khan" The Washington Quarterly 33.2:85-106 (April 2010) (in cache)
    "Iran, for example, continues to depend heavily on illicit overseas procurement for its nuclear programs. Its most visible procurement attempts center on outfitting its growing gas centrifuge program and obtaining goods that the British, French, and German intelligence services assess are being used to develop the capability to build deliverable nuclear weapons" [David Albright and Christina Walrond, "The Trials of German-Iranian Trader Mohsen Vanaki: The German Federal Intelligence Service Assesses That Iran Likely Has a Nuclear Weapons Program", December 15, 2009, and multiple interviews with British, French, and German officials by ISIS staff, 2008 and 2009].

    "German authorities provide companies confidential "early warning" letters that include lists of suspicious entities and strategies used by proliferant states. Companies forward suspicious enquiries to authorities on a voluntary basis. In the nuclear area, intelligence officials meet periodically with key company officials to provide tips to watch for specific illicit procurement trading companies, technical specifications, and end-users. In turn, they receive important information from the companies. Upon receiving these tips, a company may also review its recent enquiry data and report back to the authorities about any contact with these entities."

This could be a concrete German contribution to more security: In a paper in the International Herald Tribune Mahdi Obeidi, former head of Saddam's military-industrial complex, points towards a problem area - the hundreds of jobless Iraqi scientists and technicians. Germany had closely cooperated with them, knows them - but it seems still unclear as to what extent Germany will absorb them ("Relations between Iraq and Germany", German Federal Foreign Office (Aussenministerium), January 2005, in cache).

The German effort could be similar to

  • the American Nunn-Lugar program (in cache) encompassing the "Cooperative Threat Reduction" (CTR) programs (in cache) that has engaged 58,000 Soviet-era weapons scientists and workers in peaceful work on the one hand and secured nuclear materials on the other ($10 billion spent by the US since 1992, in 2002 the G-8 nations and the US pledged $ 20 billion and 10 billion, respectively, in the "Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction"). See also
  • the Obama-Lugar Program (in Cache).
    The "Agreement Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Concerning the Safe and Secure Transportation, Storage, and Destruction of Weapons and the Prevention of Weapons Proliferation," signed June 17, 1992, established the legal framework for the Defense Department's Nunn-Lugar assistance to Russia, spelling out the rights and responsibilities of both countries. It had a duration of seven years; a protocol extending the agreement for another seven years was signed in June 1999. (more in Kenneth Luongo and William Hoehn, An ounce of prevention, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 61, no 5: 28-35, March/April 2005, in cache).
  • the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (in cache)
    Established by the United States Department of Energy in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other partners, this initiative "aims to minimize as quickly as possible the amount of nuclear material available that could be used for nuclear weapons" and "will also seek to put into place mechanisms to ensure that nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment...are not used for malicious purposes."

I. The Role of the United States As Compared to That of Germany

after Lawrence Scheinman, "The IAEA and World Nuclear Order", Chapter 6, pp. 176-205, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C., 1987

1. U.S. has Never Supplied Uranium Enrichment Technology

The United States has never supplied uranium enrichment technology, although it did propose sharing it with an appropriate multinational venture in the early 1970s when confronted with the reality that some of its European allies were planning to proceed with their own enrichment plans. (This aspect of the episode is very well analyzed and documented in Edward F. Wonder, "Nuclear Fuel and American Foreign Policy", An Atlantic Council Policy Study (Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1977).) When the members of the URENCO gas centrifuge enrichment consortium (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany) first began discussing a joint arrangement in the early 1960s, however, the United States had prevailed on them to place their activities under strict secrecy to avoid the risk of unnecessary dissemination of a technology bearing high risk for nuclear proliferation.

2. U.S. Policy on Reprocessing of Spent Fuel:
Safeguards, Export Limitations and Withdrawal from Commercial Reprocessing

As for reprocessing and plutonium fabrication technology, U.S. bilateral agreements for cooperation had provisions contemplating eventual reprocessing under specific terms, conditions, and limitations.
  1. It was France, not the United States, that first published basic technical information on reprocessing technology. U.S. information sharing was in a real sense provoked by the French initiative at the 1955 Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, after which the United States began to publish technical reprocessing information. It did not, however, share industrial know-how or transfer hardware or facilities. The only instance of actual sharing related to the joint EUROCHEMIC venture (a creation of the European Nuclear Energy Agency, the nuclear arm of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), which was modestly assisted in the hope that any commercial reprocessing activity that might develop on the European continent would be multi-nationalized and thereby avoid wide dispersion of nationally owned and controlled facilities.
  2. In 1972, after the NPT had come into force, but prior to the Indian test and the revelation of France's contracts with South Korea and Pakistan, The Unites States revised its internal rules to tighten the conditions under which any private U.S. individual or concern could assist in the development of reprocessing capabilities abroad. Any such assistance was made contingent on explicit authorization by the executive branch (first the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, later the administrator of the Energy Research and Development Administration, and now the secretary of energy), and criteria for evaluating whether to grant such approval were established, namely the NPT status of the potential recipient and whether the facility would be under multinational auspices. (Code of Federal Regulations Part 810 (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office)) The intent was to hold out the possibility for U.S. cooperation in reprocessing as leverage to encourage countries to join the NPT, and to encourage others to seriously consider joint ventures in reprocessing in lieu of establishing independent facilities, Thus, serious and substantial efforts to control the risk of proliferation while advancing the cause of peaceful atomic energy lay in the background of the unsettling events of 1974 and 1975 (the United States' restrictive managing of enrichment services to other countries).

... The Bonn government emphasized its understanding that beyond preventing acquisition of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, in no case would the provisions of the treaty "lead to restricting the use of nuclear energy for other purposes by non nuclear weapon states." In particular it said:

... no nuclear activities in the fields of research, development, manufacture or use for peaceful purposes are prohibited nor can the transfer of information, materials and equipment be denied to non nuclear weapon states merely on the basis of allegations that such activities or transfers could be used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. (20).

... The United States favored a requirement that recipient countries accept full scope safeguards as a condition for any nuclear export. Although backed on this by a number of suppliers (and the condition accepted by all NPT non nuclear weapon state parties on their own activities), this failed to win French and German support (very largely because of anticipated sales to Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa). So the guidelines provide only that any export of items on an agreed "trigger list" drawn up and occasionally supplemented by the suppliers would have to be placed under IAEA safeguards (38).

  • The emphasis of this crucial group of exporting states on international safeguards confirmed that safeguards remained the core of the nonproliferation regime and the sine qua non for international civil nuclear cooperation.
  • Nonetheless, the United States also sought to reduce the pressure on safeguards by pressing for additional technological barriers; this would be accomplished by a mandatory agreement by suppliers that they would not make further transfers of reprocessing or enrichment technology or facilities. This reflected a diminished confidence that safeguards and pledges alone could sustain nonproliferation.

But the U.S. drive for mandatory prohibition on sensitive transfers was rejected by several members of the group as being too sweeping and likely to cause some countries to seek nuclear independence, thereby further diluting any influence suppliers might exercise over national nuclear development. However, the suppliers did agree to exercise restraint in the transfer of sensitive facilities, technology, and weapons usable materials and to encourage recipients to accept supplier involvement or other appropriate multinational arrangements as an alternative to national facilities (39). Significantly, the two members of the group least disposed to mandatory restraints on sensitive technology transfers, France and the Federal Republic of Germany subsequently independently. announced their intention not to authorize "until further notice" the export of reprocessing facilities (40).

... The second element of post 1974 U.S. nonproliferation policy had a rather different twist, and particularly after 1977 became a source of considerable controversy between the United States and its industrial nuclear partners. Unlike

  1. the first element, which emphasized voluntary export conditions and limits to transfers of sensitive nuclear technologies,
  2. this involved reassessment of a fundamental presumption of civil nuclear power [the desirability of reprocessing spent fuel] for that had guided civil nuclear development from the inception of Atoms for Peace.
The decision to take this step came in 1976 when nonproliferation policy and the adequacy of the existing safeguards based regime became an issue in the presidential campaign. Impelled by existing congressional pressures and by candidate Carter's emphasis on the proliferation risks associated with anticipated widespread commercialization of plutonium and reprocessing, President Ford, in the waning days of his administration, announced a new nonproliferation policy:
henceforth, the United States would not regard reprocessing and plutonium recycling as necessary and inevitable steps in the nuclear fuel cycle and would defer such activities until there was good reason to conclude that the world could effectively overcome any proliferation risks associated with such activities.
President Ford declared a moratorium on exports of sensitive technologies and facilities for a minimum of three years, and called upon other suppliers to join the United States in this effort. Plutonium reprocessing issues, including safeguards effectiveness, were to be considered in the framework of a reprocessing evaluation program. Unfortunately, its precise character never was fully worked out before President Ford's term expired, but it emerged in somewhat altered form in the Carter administration in the form of an international nuclear fuel cycle evaluation (46).

3. Is Nuclear Non-Proliferation Still Attainable?

Remarks at the United Nations Foundation, June 9, 2006
(in chache)
Andrew K. Semmel, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy and Negotiations

"The non-proliferation precedents we set in the coming decade are likely to determine whether the world lives in anxious uncertainty from crisis to crisis or whether we are able to construct a global coalition dedicated to preventing catastrophes and to giving people the confidence and security to pursue fulfilling lives" (Richard G. Lugar).
It is the desire of the United States to work with its partners to construct a global coalition dedicated to preventing catastrophes from WMD proliferation. If the international community fails to counter the threat of WMD proliferation, the impact on future generations will be devastating, and be felt, not just here, but in every country of the world."

  1. "... Over two years ago, President Bush announced several new nonproliferation and counterproliferation initiatives. That speech (in cache) marks the most ambitious recent attempt to create a strategy or game plan for coping with nuclear nonproliferation. These initiatives included efforts at the international level, such as
    • the proposal for a United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) to criminalize WMD proliferation,
    • efforts to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system through the creation of an IAEA Committee on Safeguards and Verification,
    • a proposal to universalize the tougher Additional Protocol to augment existing NPT safeguards agreements, and
    • to make implementation of the Protocol a condition that countries must meet to be eligible to receive nuclear supplies.
    • President Bush also proposed a complete ban on the export of sensitive uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology to all countries not now having such full-scale facilities, while ensuring that those countries that forego these fuel cycle programs would have access to reliable nuclear fuel at prevailing market prices.
  2. In April 2004, the UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 1540, establishing for the first time binding Chapter VII obligations on all UN member states to develop and enforce legal and national regulatory measures against the proliferation of WMD. If implemented successfully, each state's actions will significantly strengthen international standards related to the export of sensitive items, and limit access to sensitive technologies.
    Yet, a clear gap persists between the global consensus about the threat of WMD proliferation and concrete action on the ground. Full implementation of UNSCR 1540 will help close this gap. We are pleased that the UNSC adopted in late April UNSCR 1673 which extends the 1540 mandate for two more years. We'll continue to work aggressively through the 1540 Committee and its panel of experts to achieve the nonproliferation objectives articulated in resolution 1540.
  3. The United States is working on its own plan to provide assistance to other states to promote full implementation of UNSCR 1540. We are encouraging other governments in position to do so to offer assistance to countries not yet meeting the requirements of this resolution. We also encourage outreach to those governments that have not yet submitted reports to the UNSCR 1540 Committee to complete this important work. The regional seminars planned for later this year should be helpful in shaping next steps in implementation of the Resolution. Working together, we can ensure that all states fully implement this resolution and meet its aims to prevent VIN/ED proliferation.
  4. As proposed by President Bush, the IAEA Board of Governors established a new committee last June to strengthen further the international safeguards system of the IAEA. This committee is charged with examining ways to strengthen the Agency's ability to ensure that nations comply with their international treaty obligations. The Committee has met three times since last November, and has begun to outline ways to strengthen the safeguards system.
  5. We also have seen an increase in the number of NPT Parties with Additional Protocols. To date 107 NPT parties have signed Additional Protocols, and 75 are now in force. When in force, the AP permits the IAEA to inspect more facilities on shorter notice, and to seek more information about civil nuclear programs.
  6. We are working within the G-8 and the NSG to establish effective controls on enrichment and reprocessing technology to inhibit states from pursuing nuclear weapons in the guise of peaceful nuclear energy.
  7. Complementing these efforts was U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Bodman's announcement of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). GNEP is a comprehensive strategy designed to promote the expansion of emissions-free nuclear energy worldwide by demonstrating and deploying new technologies to recycle nuclear fuel, minimize waste, and prevent the spread of nuclear technologies and materials....
  8. Under the Moscow Treaty, we have agreed to reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 to 2,200, about a third of their 2002 levels, and less than a quarter of the level at the end of the Cold War.
    • When this Treaty is fully implemented by 2012, the United States will have reduced the number of strategic nuclear warheads it had deployed in 1990 by about 80%.
    • We also have reduced our non-strategic nuclear weapons by 90% since the end of the Cold War, dismantling over 3000 such weapons pursuant to the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991 and 1992.
  9. Moreover, the United States introduced a new text for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty on May 18, 2006. ...."

II. Germany's Proliferation into Iraq

Presently, during Iraq's reconstruction period under UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development and World Bank surveillance (UNSCR 1483), the picture is the reverse of what it was before the first Gulf war: German contributions ($200 million as compared to $20 billion from the US) are among the nations' smallest. As of June 2005 Germany has waived repayment of 80 % of the Iraqi debt of $5.5 billion, part of which must have gone into Saddam's military-industrial complex.

Saddam has always been trying to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons technology, according to his own statements and testimony by former high-ranking Iraqi officials (final report of the US weapons inspectors, Oct. 6, 2004, source: Siegfried Buschschlüter, foreign correspondent, Deutschandfunk, Oct. 7, 2004, US-Waffensuche im Iraq, local cache, see also U.S. Report Finds No WMD in Iraq, Associated Press, Sept. 18, 2004). After the end of UN sanctions against Iraq, Saddam would have resumed the nuclear program, according to Mahdi Obeidi. His paper (excerpt) is an account of the build-up in Iraq that mainly Germany had contributed to.

Before the first Gulf war Germany exported more into Iraq than the rest of the world taken together. Between the two Gulf wars Germany was still Iraq's major trading partner, and many of the goods were dual-use items. Some detail in chronological order:

  • "Hundreds of German firms" as opposed to "tens of US firms" traded with Iraq (Scott Ritter, UNSCOM Weapons Inspector)
  • More than half of Iraqi imports came from Germany (German-Iraqi trade, Source: Financial Times Deutschland, internal link).
  • Until 1992 Germany's manufacturers did not fully comply with UN Iraq embargo and German export laws (for details see pages 13 and 14 of Bill of Indictment by the district court in Augsburg, Germany.)
  • "Largely as a result of these recent scandals [about the involvement of German companies in supplying Iraq and Libya with chemical weapons], German export control policy has been in a state of flux for the past two years. ....

    • From December 1987 until February 1991 the foreign trade decree (Aussenwirtschaftsverordnung) was amended 14 times.

    • Since 1989 the German Bundestag has passed 2 major revisions of the foreign trade act (Aussenwirtschaftsgesetz) and related legislation although both legislative packages encountered opposition in the second chamber, the Bundesrat.

    • In February 1994 the federal government introduced yet another bill to amend the foreign trade act (Germany, Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 12/6911).

    • Beyond that, the German government decided first to reorganize the export licensing agency, the Bundesamt für Wirtschaft, and to more than triple the personnel level of its export control division.

    • In a second step, the government created a new agency, the Bundesausfuhramt, with exclusive responsibility for export licensing."
    (Claus Hofhansel, Commercial Competition and National Security: Comparing U.S. and German Export Control Policies, Praeger, 1996, p. 12 - in cache).

  • In 1992 German authorities have begun investigating possible violations of export control laws by several German firms. In April 1992, 27 supplier countries agreed to strengthen the rules for transfer of sophisticated dual-item technology (Michael Wise, The Washington Post, 5/19/92, P. A15).
  • Foreign individuals driven by a profit motive provided key know-how to Iraq. To limit such participation in the future, the FRG in 1992 approved "citizens participation" laws that make it illegal for German citizens to take part in potential proliferation countries' nuclear weapons program (David Albright, Mark Hibbs, Arms Control Today, 7-8/92, PP. 3-11).
  • An analysis presented here gives background material related to the dangers connected with proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or of the corresponding technology, part of which is a compilation of German illegal activities
  • "[Year] 2001 - Attempts to acquire biotechnology and biological weapons-related technology and expertise
    The Amman, Jordan office of the Iraqi front company Winter International forwarded offers for dual-use laboratory equipment from a German firm to the Winter International office in Baghdad, in March 2001. The end-user of this equipment was purported to be the Iraqi MoI [Ministry of Industry]. The equipment offered included:

    • ...

    • A refrigerated ultracentrifuge, a microcentrifuge, a low temperature freezer (between -30 and -80 degrees Celsius), and an automatic DNA-analysis system with mono-laser. This equipment is on the UN dual-use monitoring lists and would have required verification.

    • ..."
    (Source: Ch. Duelfer, Chapter "Biological Dual-Use Related Procurement of Annex I "Suspected WMD-Related Dual-Use Goods and Procurement", Chapter "Regime Finance and Procurement Transactions", Vol. 1 of "Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD", 30. Sept. 2004). On Iraqi procurement between 1999 and 2003, during the UN sanctions against Iraq.

III. Germany's Proliferation of Nuclear Technology to Brazil and Argentina

This compilation is a follow-up of an activity in 1976 against the German-Brazil nuclear deal [WD des deutschen Bundestags, 2013, im Cache, C. Russau, Abstauben in Brasilien, 2016, im Cache), backed by financial support provided by the German government (which knew it would thus break the Nonproliferation Treaty, NPT).

"Bonn has assumed the entire financial risk for the deal through a consortium of five big banks lending $1 billion for KWU's first two Brazilian power plants at concessionary interest rates. Half the debt will be financed at 7.25 percent by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Credit Institute), a development bank formed to distribute Marshall Plan aid." (Source: Norman Gall, "Atoms for Brazil, Dangers for All", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 1976 (in cache))
The financial ("Hermes") securities were granted amongst others to Interatom, a subsidiary of the Siemens AG, to enable the sale of the complete nuclear fuel cycle (i.e. including enrichment and reprocessing technology) to Brazil when Brazil, a non-NPT state, was pursuing the path to nuclear explosives. At the same time Germany also sold nuclear equipment to Argentina, Brazil's rival. The South American continent was then -and fortunately still is today- nuclear weapons free.

A New York Times editorial entitled "Nuclear Madness" denounced the deal as a

"reckless move that could set off a nuclear arms race in Latin America, trigger the nuclear arming of a half-dozen nations elsewhere and endanger the security of the United States and the world as a whole"
p. 9 of Claus Hofhansel, Commercial Competition and National Security: Comparing U.S. and German Export Control Policies, Praeger, 1996, in cache).


In the 1970s we (physicists and chemists) were affiliated with the Hahn-Meitner-Institute in Berlin, Germany (then called HMI for Nuclear Research]. We were concerned about nuclear proliferation originating from German industry and financially backed by the German Federal Government. We sent an open letter to our foreign minister, H.-D. Genscher, asking him not to undercut the non-proliferation efforts of the US president, Jimmy Carter. About half the employees of the HMI had signed the letter (Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 22, "Dokumente zum Zeitgeschehen", Seiten 1156-1157, 1977).

At that time the Brazilian military government publicly admitted aiming at producing nuclear explosives, but declared them as peaceful. Inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency were not allowed, as Brazil was not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

H. Schmidt and H.-D. Genscher
H. Schmidt and H.-D. Genscher in the German Bundestag.
Source: http://www.bundeskanzlerin.de
Disregarding the danger of heating up a nuclear arms race between Brazil and Argentina on the thus far nuclear weapons free Latin American continent, the social democratic German government under Helmut Schmidt provided German nuclear suppliers with the necessary financial security backing the sale of an entire nuclear fuel cycle to Brazil.

The German-Brazil nuclear deal grew out of a decades long cooperation between the two states. It had as a major goal the development and sale of uranium enrichment technology
(details in

in opposition to the above described nonproliferation policy of the government of the USA (see 1, 2).

German and Brazil government officials subsequently signed the sale's agreement. At the same time, Germany was also a major supplier of nuclear technology to Argentina, which had resolved to stay roughly in step with Brazil and by 1974 had acquired heavy water reactors - the type that India had used to produce its plutonium.

"[The newly elected president of the US, Jimmy] Carter had pledged himself to heading off the German deal with Brazil. And two days after his inauguration, he dispatched Vice President Walter Mondale to Europe with the new administration's message about nuclear proliferation. In Brussels, only four days later, Mondale said that one of the "central themes" would be "stopping the sales of reprocessing plants as those to Brazil an Pakistan" (W.H. Courtney, "Brazil and Argentina: Strategies for American Diplomacy", in Nonproliferation and U.S. Foreign Policy, ed. J.A. Yager (Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution, 1980), p. 380, citing Bernard Weinraub, New York Times, January 25, 1977). In Bonn, he is said to have told Schmidt that Carter "was unalterably opposed to the transfer of the sensitive technologies to Brazil" (ibidem, p. 381). Schmidt stonily replied by noting his commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty and the suppliers' guidelines [drawn up at a series of secret meetings of the nuclear suppliers' club in London 1974], but he also restated his commitment to the agreement with Brazil. Carter's high-visibility, high-level initiative had the predictable effect of souring the atmosphere and further complicating intractable problems. Two weeks later, Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State designate, was in Bonn, trying to persuade Schmidt to defer transferring the enrichment and reprocessing materials to Brazil until its reactors had been "safeguarded"

[... safeguarded by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. IAEA safeguards include inspections, inventories, and regular audits of sensitive materials to ensure that nuclear technology is used for peaceful purposes only. Years later, the case of Iraq has shown that IAEA does not achieve this goal (D. Kay, Iraqi Inspections: Lessons Learned. D. Kay was the team leader for three IAEA inspections in Iraq)].

Schmidt again said no. A U.S. mission to Brazil drew a cold, uncompromising reception; the Brazilians made their feelings clear by canceling a military cooperation agreement.

.... He [Carter] planned to cut off American aid to any country that detonated a "peaceful nuclear explosion". He wanted a voice in decisions involving an American client-country's other nuclear exchanges. And he wanted to be able to rule on whether a client-country could develop its own plutonium separation capability (M. Nacht, "Controlling Nuclear Proliferation", in The Eagle Entangled: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Complex World (New York: Longman, 1970), ed. K. Oye, D. Rothchild, and R. Lizber, p. 157)."

- cited from  J. Newhouse,
"War and Peace in the Nuclear Age",
A.A. Knopf, New York, 1989, p. 274 - 275.
Small print in [ ] added by J. Gruber.

"The Federal Republic of Germany-Brazil agreement prompted a strong reaction from the United States that resulted in considerable tension between the US and both of the other countries. For an in-depth review of that situation:

--from: Lawrence Scheinman,
"The IAEA and World Nuclear Order",
Chapter 6, p. 200.
Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, 1987.

In Brazil, in the years that followed under democratic rule, scientific groups, citizens organizations, and newly-empowered legislators were able to lobby openly for constraints on wasteful nuclear activities. Scientists of US public interest groups e.g.

provided members of the Brazilian parliament and Physical Society with the necessary technical expertise. Many of these efforts helped to build a political climate more conducive to the implementation of bilateral and international safeguards.
Brazil's deal with West Germany gradually fell apart of its own weight. The Brazilians couldn't afford the reactors and never managed to make the German-design enrichment technology work for them. ... Brazil and Argentina still refuse to sign the NPT, and in either country an immoderate regime could doubtless acquire the weapons option.
- cited from J. Newhouse.
Finally, in September 1990, when -before the UN General Assembly- Brazil publicly revealed and revoked its nuclear weapons ambitions, the German government (under the Christian and Free Democrats, Chancellor Helmut Kohl) announced that "current and future" nuclear exports would be approved only if full-scope safeguards were in effect in the recipient country.

Internationally, Germany has been continuously blamed for proliferating weapons relevant technology (for details see Reading List).

IV. Germany's Proliferation of Nuclear Technology to the Indian Subcontinent

Focus of N-probes shifts from Pakistan to Europe, The News International, Pakistan, Jan. 27, 2004. Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb under "microscopic scrutiny" (AFP, Islamabad, Jan 28, 2004, in cache).
"There are individuals from Pakistan, Germany, Holland, South Africa and the UAE" who had been named by Iran in its reports to the IAEA, said the official [close to the investigations following allegations raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in November 2003]."

Outside Assistance to the Indian and Pakistani Nuclear Programs, by Steven Dolley, Nuclear Control Institute, June 5, 1998 (in cache)

Further Reading


  • List of dual-use goods controlled for export by Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines: Nuclear-related Dual-use Transfers, International Atomic Energy Agency Information Circular, INFCIRC/254/Rev_3/Part2, 24. February 1998

  • Stuxnet Worm Targets Automated Systems for Frequency Converters: Are Iranian Centrifuges the Target?
    WILLIAM J. BROAD, JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID E. SANGER, "Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay", New York Times, January 15, 2011 (in cache) By

  • Saddam, the bomb and me: Iraq's Nuclear Program (in cache)

    by Mahdi Obeidi (New York Times) Mahdi Obeidi is the author of "The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind." Kurt Pitzer, who collaborated on the book, assisted with this article. Excerpt:

    "... there is no doubt in my mind that we could have produced dozens of nuclear weapons within a few years ..."

    But the nuclear weapons program "was stopped in its tracks by UN weapons inspectors after the Gulf war and was never restarted." ... "after [Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel] defected to Jordan in 1995, and then returned months later only to be assassinated by his father-in-law's henchmen, the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs lost their top promoter."

    ... Saddam "had lost touch with the reality of his diminished military might. ... Saddam fooled the rest of the world as well.

    "Was Iraq a potential threat to the United States and the world? Threat is always a matter of perception, but our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam's fingers. The sanctions and the lucrative oil-for-food program had served as powerful deterrents, but world events - like Iran's current efforts to step up its nuclear ambitions - might well have changed the situation.

    Iraqi scientists had the knowledge and the designs needed to jumpstart the program if necessary. And there is no question that we could have done so very quickly. "

    "Hundreds of my former staff members and fellow scientists possess knowledge that could be useful to a rogue nation eager for a covert nuclear weapons program. The vast majority are technicians who, like the rest of us, care first about their families and their livelihoods."

  • Testimony to the US Congress by Mr. Charles Duelfer,
    Director of Central Intelligence Special Advisor for Strategy regarding Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Programs, 30 March 2004.
    Some details on procurement:

    "... Iraq derived several billion dollars between 1999 and 2003 from oil smuggling and kickbacks. One senior regime official estimated Iraq earned $4 billion from illicit oil sales from 1999 to March 2003. By levying a surcharge on Oil for Food contracts, Iraq earned billions more during the same period.

    This was revenue outside UN control and provided resources the regime could spend without restriction. It channeled much of the illicitly gathered funds to rebuild Iraq's military capabilities through the Military Industrialization Commission, the MIC. MIC worked with the Iraqi Intelligence Service to establish front companies in Iraq and other countries to facilitate procurement.

    The budget of MIC increased nearly 100 fold from 1996 to 2003, with the budget totaling $500 million in 2003. Most of this money came from illicit oil contracts. Iraq imported banned military weapons and technology and dual-use goods through Oil for Food contracts. Companies in several countries were involved in these efforts. ..."
    (More on the Duelfer Testimony)

  • Wikipedia, The Separative Work Unit

    "The uranium enrichment work necessary to separating a mass F of feed of assay xf into a mass P of product assay xp, and tails of mass T and assay xt is expressed in terms of the number of separative work units needed, given by the expression

    SWU = P V(xp) + T V(xt) - F V(xf)

    P, T and F are expressed in kg. The number SWU/P, the Separative Work Units per kg of product, is

    (Eq. 1)     SWU/P = V(xp) + T/P V(xt) - F/P V(xf)

    where V(x) is the Value Function, defined as

    V(x) = (1 - 2x)*\ln(\frac{1 - x}{x})

    The feed to product ratio is given by the expression

    \frac{F}{P} = \frac{x_{p} - x_{t}}{x_{f} - x_{t}}

    wheras the tails to product ratio is given by the expression

    \frac{T}{P} = \frac{x_{p} - x_{f}}{x_{f} - x_{t}}

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