Nuclear Nonproliferation:

Licensing Procedures for Dual-Use Exports Need Strengthening

T-NSIAD-94-163: Published: May 17, 1994. Publicly Released: May 17, 1994.

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GAO discussed its review of U.S exporting licensing procedures for dual-use nuclear items. GAO noted that: (1) the government has approved dual-use nuclear licenses to 36 countries that pose a potential proliferation risk; (2) most of the licenses were for computers and other items with wide civilian uses, but a few items were critical to nuclear explosives development and had few nonnuclear uses; (3) most licensing decisions have been in accord with the U.S. goal of minimizing proliferation risks but, between fiscal year (FY) 1988 and FY 1992, 1508 licenses were approved for organizations in eight countries that were involved in or suspected of being involved in developing nuclear weapons or special nuclear material; (4) weaknesses in interagency licensing review processes have resulted in the approval of numerous sensitive license applications without review by the Department of Energy or the interagency review group; (5) weaknesses in current licensing procedures include inadequate criteria for selecting prelicense checks and post-shipment verifications, ineffective methods used to perform these inspections, and the lack of verification of government-to-government assurances against nuclear end uses; and (6) the easing of export licensing requirements for computers will result in the decline of license applications and could complicate U.S. efforts to prevent computer exports from supporting nuclear proliferation.

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