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The Export reorganization act, 1975 : hearings before the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, first session, April 24, 30, and May 1, 1975 online

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S. 1439 is only a proposal. Though it is based on staff interviews
with well over 20 Government and private experts, it will be subject
to modification and perfection through our open legislative processes.
I hope our witnesses will freely propose improvements and alterna-
tives. But I know that the Chairman will confirm my assurance that
we are of serious purpose and intent — that this is an issue on which
the committee does intend to leave its constructive mark.

One other volatile part of the world, where perhaps there is more
death, hatred, and bitterness expressed, is the subcontinent. Wlien the

PNE, peaceful nuclear explosion, went off in India, it was not only
a shock to us, it was a shock to Canada, who provided the technical
know-how; it was devastating to the Pakistanis; and probably it
brought about the request and desire to lift the embargo on some con-
ventional lines so that they can move forward there in an area where
the resources ought to be going to many, many other things. So the
impact of what we are talking about is a very real thing, felt all over
the world now. Our expert testimony we have this morning, I think
can shed a little or a great deal of light on the problem.

Chairman Ribicoff. Before we call on you, Dr. Ikle, I would like
to make one comment, it is obvious to me the entire problem to which
we address ourselves is one that will be of concern to us, and will in-
volve all of us — the witnesses and this committee — for years in the

This committee, as far as I am concerned, has enlisted for the dura-
tion to follow this problem through. I am convinced that more and
more, as the years go by, the world, and this Country, will realize the
importance of either the evil or the good genie that has been released
upon the world. I don't suppose we will ever put it back in the bottle
again, and we better find out how best we can control it before it
devastates the world, and singes and burns all mankind.

Dr. Ikle, do you have a prepared statement, or would you rather
make some comments?

Dr. Ikle. Mr. Chairman. I would like to read a prepared statement,
with your permission.

Chairman Ribicoff. Do you have a copy of your statement?

Dr. Ikle. We will provide you with one.

Chairman Ribicoff. Fine.


Dr. Ikle. Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, I greatly
appreciate this opportunity to appear before you.

I want to provide any information I can that will be helpful to
this committee. Since we are trying to cope with new technology that
will expand and spread over the years to come, it may be helpful to
gain some historical perspective.

For 30 years now, our Government — both legislative and executive
branches — have sought to prevent destructive uses of atomic energy
while permitting legitimate peaceful uses.

Unfortunately, it is true to say that if nuclear technology did not
serve any important peaceful purpose, the control of proliferation of
nuclear bombs would be much easier.

As you recall, our first atomic energy legislation, the McMahon Act
of 1946, placed great emphasis on preserving nuclear secrecy.

Five years later, in 1951, Congress amended the Atomic Energy
Act so that we could share some nuclear information for military
uses with countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.

The purpose was to strengthen the alliance, not to encourage peace-
ful applications.


But as the prospect for peaceful benefits of nuclear energy grew
more realistic and more important, the U.S. policy was changed in an
almost revolutionary way.

Congress passed the revised Atomic Energy Act of 1954. This re-
vision gave permission — indeed, strong encouragement — for sharing
nuclear information for peaceful purposes with a great many other
nations, allies, as well as friendly nations.

The clear intent was to continue strict controls on weapon design
information. We recognize now with the benefit of hindsight, that in
a sense we had "locked the wrong barn door."

By transferring the technology for reactors that can produce plu-
tonium, the most difficult element for a capability to manufacture
explosives have been given away.

Holding on tightly to weapon design information might prevent
the fabrication of advanced warhead types, but does little to prevent
construction of nuclear device or bombs several times the destructive
power of the Hiroshima bomb.

All of this is easier to see from hindsight, of course.

Our main purpose of the new policy that began with the revision
of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, was a valid and foresighted one :
To build up international machinery that could control or at least
monitor the legitimate peaceful applications of nuclear energy, to
prevent diversion to destructive purposes.

In support of that objective. Congress gave its approval in 1957 to
the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency, today
one of the most effective and important organizations within the
United Nations family.

American initiative was decisive in bringing this organization into

In the 1960's, the threat of nuclear proliferation attracted increas-
ing attention. Through the Pastore Resolution of 1966, Congress
paved the way for the nonproliferation Treaty of 1968 — today one of
the most important barriers against the further spread of nuclear

As you will recall, the week after next, the conference to review
this treaty will begin in Geneva. We expect this review conference,
which was envisaged by the treaty, to reaffirm the widest support for
the treaty. Over 80 nations are now party to it. The Republic of
Korea has just completed its ratification. I am sure, Mr. Chairman,
and members of this committee, you will agree with me that this
decision by the Government of Korea is a most gratifying develop-
ment. We are hopeful that other important nations will soon complete
their ratification of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Today, not only the United States, but several industrial nations,
are exporting nuclear fuel, equipment, and knowledge to many coun-
tries who do not yet have nuclear weapons.

More and more countries are looking to nuclear weapons. More and
more countries are looking to nuclear reactors to help them meet their
energy needs.

But that old problem is still with us. As nuclear technology spreads
to more and more nations around the world for peaceful purposes,
it can also provide the makings for nuclear weapons, unless strict
controls can be maintained. And it appears there are now some coun-


tries that might want to take advantage of this nuclear trade, to
develop the capability some day to produce their own nuclear weap-
ons. If they should press ahead, it will begin to threaten their neigh-
bors, who in turn will be tempted to follow suit.

There are things we can do. We can continually improve and work
toward better international controls over exports of nuclear ma-
terials. We must make sure that commercial interests do not conflict
with our long-term security needs.

We can take steps to strengthen the International Atomic Energy
Agency, through financial and technical assistance. We can press for
the support by all nations to make the Nonprol iteration Treaty more
effective, and we can act on every front to lessen the motivations for
the acquisition of independent nuclear weapons capabilities.

Incidentally, Mr. Chairman, Senator Glenn, this means that we
must sustain out- alliance commitments, lest other nations now de-
pending on these commitments, feel compelled to acquire nuclear

The United States cannot of course accomplish international con-
trols alone ; but it can, as a first and foremost nuclear nation, take the

In fact, it is my opinion the United States is the only nation that
can do that, and, of course, the support by members of your com-
mittee, and the Congress will be crucial here as they have always been
in the control of nuclear energy.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Ribicoff. Dr. Ikle, today's New York Times reports that
the United States has developed a new laser separation method for
enriching uranium to be used as nuclear fuel, or for weapons pur-

It has also been reported recently that South Africa has developed
a new spray nozzle system of enriching uranium.

Do these developments mean that it will be easier for nations to
prepare materials for nuclear weapons?

Dr. Ikle. You have to separate here the very advanced type of
technology that is being explored in connection with laser induced
micro-explosions for the production of energy. This highly advanced
technology, as I understand it, is not yet actually in being. It is not
likely to contribute to the risk of proliferation because it is very
advanced technology. You may. however, want to get more expert
technologv testimony on it.

Countries that possess this technology are, of course, well advanced
in their capability to make nuclear weapons, if they so desire.

On the other hand, the fact that new technology is coming along
for enriching uranium, of course, is of great importance in the con-
text of non-proliferation policies.

Chairman Ribicoff. Do you think that if these new technologies
are not readily available, are to be developed by other nations, do you
believe that the United States should be very, very careful as to
whether it makes these specialized technologies available to other
countries in the world?

Dr. Ikle. To the extent that nuclear technology could enhance the
capability of other countries to manufacture nuclear explosives, we
must indeed be very careful in how we control it. However, to the


extent that technology can serve only peaceful purposes, this risk, of
course, does not arise.

Chairman Ribicoff. I would hope the gentlemen who will be testi-
fying on the panel, will be thinking about the impact of these new
technologies, and about what the U.S. policy should be in relation

What I am talking about is laser separation, not laser fusion. Is
this clear ?

Dr. Ikle. I misunderstood you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Ribicoff. I am talking about laser separation, as re-
ported today in the New York Times. I do not know if you have yet
read the article as to what is going on at Los Alamos.

Dr. Ikle. I misunderstood you, Mr. Chairman. You are referring
to potential new technology for enriching uranium, and we are of
course deeply concerned by the spread of the capability to make
highly enriched uranium that could be used for weapons purposes.

Chairman Ribicoff. This is what I am referring to. Will these de-
velopments make it easier for nations to prepare nuclear weapons,
and will they lead to a greater worldwide proliferation of nuclear
weapons ?

Dr. Ikle. This risk is a very serious one, to the extent that other
nations, with some technology and industrial capability, can build
for themselves equipment that they can use to enrich uranium. They
could, of course, go ahead and manufacture weapons, if they so desire.

Chairman Ribicoff. So we are facing another expansion of this
entire problem.

Dr. Ikle. As we look at it — and we have to understand here that
actual technological forecasts are uncertain — but as we generally look
at it, over the next 10 to 15 years, the capability to either manufacture
enriched uranium for weapons purposes or to manufacture plutonium
that could be used for weapons purposes, will inevitably become avail-
able to a larger and larger number of countries.

Chairman Ribicoff. Let me ask you, you have stated the acquisition
of peaceful nuclear technology inevitably gives materials personnel,
and ability needed to build nuclear weapons. In what specific ways
are present safeguards, as administered by the International Atomic
Energy Agency, inadequate to detect division of nuclear materials
and conversion of nuclear technology from peaceful to weapons pur-
poses ?

Dr. Ikle. The adequacy of the IAEA safeguards is a question of
great importance, and has to be continually reviewed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is a small organization
with limited financial means. The peaceful applications of nuclear
technology, as stated, are expanding; therefore, just to keep even with
the developments, we envision that the IAEA must continue to grow
and at the same time become more efficient in the utilization of its
limited resources.

In addition, technological assistance can be provided to the agency
that would make the job easier, for instance, in my agency, we have
engaged in research and development efforts to provide monitoring
equipment to facilitate the safeguards activities of the IAEA.

Chairman Ribicoff. You call the threat of terrorists theft of plu-
tonium, or of other weapons-grade nuclear materials a "nightmare."


Given the present level of opportunity in the United States and
throughout the world, what are the chances that such a theft could
take place today ?

Dr. Ikle. It is very hard to assess the probability of an event like
this. We have, of course, as you know, improved safeguards and pro-
tective measures in this country, and we are cooperating with and
encouraging other countries to improve the physical security of their
nuclear installations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency right now has a com-
mittee at work to develop better guidelines on physical security, but
it is a job that we cannot consider as being finished. We continuously
will have to work on it.

It will expand because of the increasing amounts of plutonium,
and perhaps later enriched uranium that will be trans-shipped from
country to country throughout the world.

Chairman Ribicoff. Let me ask you, in the event of such a theft
by a sophisticated terrorist organization, could they successfully build
and detonate a bomb?

Dr. Ikle. One should not be alarmed in an unproductive way about
this long-term problem.

It is a problem for the more distant future, but one on which we
have to start working very actively now.

As to whether an organization that stole plutonium or highly en-
riched uranium could manufacture that material into an explosive
device, of course, would depend on the technical capability and the
knowledge of the group. On this question, different scientific experts
have come to different conclusions.

It is perhaps fair to state that it is not as simple a job for a ter-
rorist, happily, to fashion a nuclear bomb as to put dynamite to-
gether ; it is much more complicated.

Chairman Ribicoff. Yes, but these terrorist organizations are not
just muscle men. They include highly educated individuals with tech-
nical skills. Is it possible that they have the scientific knowledge
within these larger terrorist organizations to fashion a bomb?

Dr. Ikle. Certainly it is possible, and indeed, it is a threat with
which we are concerned, that a group, whether associated with a
nation or what you might call a "terrorist group" could put a skilled
team together that could fashion an explosive, if they obtained the
requisite plutonium or enriched uranium.

Chairman Ribicoff. What would the consequences be if this type
of bomb were detonated in any mojor city in the world?

Dr. Ikle. Well, it is, I think, a contingency. I am sure, Mr. Chair-
man, you agree with me, but one hesitates to speak lightly.

It is an event that would change the world.

Chairman Ribicoff. In other words, there would be a possibility
of a great destruction.

Dr. Ikle. Well, that depends on what the experts call the efficiency
of the device, and the amount of material. Given a certain amount of
material, the greater the expertise, the greater the explosive efficiency.
In that sense, a nation or an organization that lacked the expertise
that we have would in all likelihood not be able to make a so-called
efficient device. That is to say, the destructive power would be less


than the destructive power that our expert laboratories could obtain
from the same amount of material.

Chairman Ribicoff. Since it is relative, if you are sophisticated you
could destroy a city of 5 million, but if you are unsophisticated, you
could destroy a city of 500,000. Is that not what we are talking about,
really ?

Dr. Ikle. This fairly, Mr. Chairman, describes the problem.

It is not for the purpose of belittling the problem that I made the
point that there are differences in the efficiency in which such a device
could be manufactured. Even a so-called inefficient device, would still
be of catastrophic proportions.

Chairman Ribicoff, When you are dealing with the large nuclear
powers, there is a sense of responsibility because they realize the
consequences to themselves; but when you are dealing with a revolu-
tionary force, or a terrorist organization, which is willing to go to
any means to achieve its ends, then you will have the potential of
great disasters, because there is complete irresponsibility, and also an
indifference to the consequences to themselves.

Dr. Ikle. Without wanting to comment on the relative respon-
sibility of various countries, Mr. Chairman, I do agree that our
principal approach in preventing the use of nuclear destructive de-
vices, that is to say, the approach of nuclear deterrents, would not
be applicable to these threats, in all likelihood.

That is the core of the problem.

Chairman Ribicoff. Well, if that then is the case, what organiza-
tion should have the responsibility for safeguarding plutonium re-
processing plants and other fuel facilities around the world? Where
should that responsibility lie?

Dr. Ikle. Ideally one would probably wish a strong well-run inter-
national organization to control all the dangerous nuclear materials.

As you well know, we in the United States have made two major
attempts, one of which partially succeeded, one of which failed. The
first attempt was the Baruch plan Which was not accepted, and the
second attempt was the initial and stronger version of the Interna-
tional Atomic Energy Agency which was not accepted, but after
which, we were able to help create the International Atomic Energy
Agency in its present version.

Chairman Ribicoff. When you say they were not accepted, what
nations were the cause of the failure?"

Dr. Ikle. Well, the history of the Baruch Plan or proposal was of
course, that the Soviet Union in 1946-47, rejected that approach.

Our initial 1954 approach to a stronger International Atomic
Energy Agency was rejected in part by the Soviet Union, and I recall
in part by other countries, too.

Chairman Ribicoff. Have there been any recent attempts to go
back to strong international controls ?

Dr. Ikle. We are exploring the possibilities for strengthening in-
ternational controls, and we certainly want to strengthen, as I men-
tioned before, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

At this time, there is no specific and definite scheme for a new ap-

Chairman Ribicoff. My 10 minutes have expired for the first round
of questioning. We will confine ourselves to 10 minutes.


Senator Glenn ?

Senator Glenn. I would like to follow up on just a little bit of
some of your line of questioning.

I think this new laser technology that was announced in the paper
today — and which I understand has been known generally to the
scientific community for some time, although it was written up today
as being some new huge breakthrough — this technique basically uses
lasers for their sympathetic yibrations in separating isotopes that now
are processed only by the lengthy and costly gaseous diffusion pro-

If this new laser technique is generally applied — and I think we
can assume that laser technology will continue to expand around the
world very, very rapidly — I would presume this might be what we
might term a "reverse breakthrough"- — a negative breakthrough for
permitting almost every nation in the world to be able to break down
these isotopes by a quite cheap means.

This would appear to be something that makes this bill, as a matter
of fact, particularly appropriate right now. In light of this new in-
formation, it may mean that whatever interagency control system we
establish, should not be set up particularly around plutonium re-
processing because now, all at once, here is a new way of bypassing
the whole reprocessing procedure in the making of material for po-
tential use in atomic weapons.

There is a whole new development here. It is a whole new source
of nuclear material as dangerous as plutonium. It will be available
to almost any nation as laser technology, in turn, goes around the

Do you see any major changes, or do you have any comment? I did
not mean to make a speech here.

Mr. Ikle. Nothing more, Senator Glenn, but basically to agree with
the thrust of your statement that new technology for the enrichment
of uranium will place an added burden on our efforts to control the
spread of nuclear explosives, and at some future time, may be more
difficult to manage, more threatening than the plutonium economy
that we see coming.

Senator Glenn. This is one of several different things that we
know about in the nuclear-technology mill. I am sure we can expect
the expansion of new plutonium and enriched uranium around the
world in larger amounts by these techniques, as well as by the re-
processing and enrichment that we have known up until now.

Let me draw back to another line now.

Let's define just the current amount of business that we do inter-
nationally in the atomic energy field. What do we project this to be?
How many licenses did we issue during the last 2 years? How great
a factor is this on our balance of payments? We do not read much
about this.

I would like to define the amount of business we do and get you to
comment on other nations that have not signed Nuclear Non-Pro-
liferation Treaty, such as France, that are exporting and making
quite an impact on international nuclear trade.

Do you have some comments on that, and can you define the overall
problem first ?

Dr. Ikle. Senator Glenn, I do not have the figures here.


We would be pleased to provide them for the record — the number
of licenses or the total dollar amount of our exports in the nuclear
energy field.

Chairman Ribicoff. I just wondered — the question that Senator
Glenn asked is so important — is there anybody who will testify sub-
sequent to Dr. Ikle, who has that information? I would like Senator
Glenn's question answered if someone else in this room may have that

[Dr. Friedman, (Rises).]

Chairman Ribicoff. Will you tell us?

Dr. Friedman. That information was included in a statement which
Senator Pastore inserted in the Congressional Record.

I do not have that statement with me. I am sorry. We do have it.

Chairman Ribicoff. I think it is important to have that stated.

I am sure Senator Glenn would like it and so would I.

I think it is important to know publicly what that is. Why don't
you give it to us right now ?

Dr. Friedman. If I may have one moment to find it.

Chairman Ribicoff. Certainly. 1

Senator Glenn. All I am trying to find, Mr. Chairman, is whether
we deal in such a way that it will be on the record. Are we dealing
with one or two licenses a few people can monitor very thoroughly, or
are we dealing with thousands of licenses that are being granted
around thet world? Are the French selling 500 plants a year; are we
selling 80 or 200?

Our own President has called in our country for 200 by 1985, which
I think is probably an unrealistic goal, but it indicates that if other
nations are planning similar activity, we are talking about a whole
different level of control and monitoring than would be otherwise.

Mr. Ikle. To give you some rough indications of the magnitude we
are talking about, agreements for cooperation to provide some 2 dozen
reactors are in a state of discussion. A reactor may mean a price tag
of $600 million or more, and there are two or three other nations —
France, the Federal Republic of Germany and maybe one or two
others — which are able to export nuclear reactors ; so it is not a matter
of thousands but maybe a dozen or two such transactions.

Senator Glenn. Do we have any commitments to continue the sale
of nuclear materials, for instance, that are not now generally known
publicly ?

We have been — I think most people have been somewhat shocked
by the handling of, say, the South African sale that has received some
publicity, and we might want to use it later as a case study to learn

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on GoveThe Export reorganization act, 1975 : hearings before the Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress, first session, April 24, 30, and May 1, 1975 → online text (page 2 of 47)