In May 1989, when the Hungarian Ambassador in Bucharest first accused the Romanian Armed Forces of preparing to attack his country, Budapest began claiming that Bucharest was developing nuclear warheads and acquiring missile systems in order to use against Hungary.[i] Although treated lightly by Western analysts, these allegations had deadly serious implications under international law. After denying Romania co-belligerent status in spite of its contribution of over 540,000 troops (incurring more than 169,000 casualties) during the last eight months of World War II, Soviet authorities had imposed a number of restrictions upon their new partner as former “ally of Hitlerite Germany” in the 1947 Peace Treaty. Article 14 of that Treaty specifically states that Romania “shall not possess, construct or experiment with any atomic weapon, any self-propelled or guided missiles or apparatus connected with their discharge.”[ii] Thus, independent acquisition of a nuclear weapon or a medium-range missile to carry one, by whatever means, unilaterally abrogated the Treaty, including its second article returning northern Transylvania, which had been under Hungarian occupation during 1940-1944, to Romania.[iii]
Almost simultaneously with the Hungarian accusations, a sensational report was published in a popular West German journal alleging that the Munich-based firm Messerschmidt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) was constructing a “huge” intermediate-range nuclear missile factory in Romania.[iv] Appearing several weeks after Ceauşescu’s latest public declaration that “from a technical standpoint, we have the capacity to manufacture nuclear arms,” the story exploited that comment as proof of an alleged nuclear weapons development program, while conveniently eliding over the immediately following restatement of his country’s policy for nuclear disarmament and the destruction of nuclear weapons.[v]
|Harriman and Gaston Marin, 1964|
The American Intelligence Community had, in fact, been aware that “Romania had the capacity to go nuclear” if it chose to do so since at least 1964.[vi] However, Washington was not unduly concerned because Bucharest had already informed President Kennedy in October 1963 that Romania did not and would not permit nuclear weapons on its territory, and had even invited the United States to send its own teams to verify that fact.[vii] The same insistence on Romania’s option to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear power was expressed clearly to Averell Harriman by the president of Romania’s State Committee for Nuclear Energy, Gheorghe Gaston Marin in May 1964. As Gaston Marin explained, his country had significant uranium deposits, “which it prefers to put into electric power rather than in fissionable material.”[viii] On this point Romanian declaratory policy and actual behavior showed remarkable consistency.
A decade later, in the mid-1970s, Ceauşescu made his first public declaration regarding Romania’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon if it so desired.[ix] In 1976 American analysts again concluded without any particular concern that if Romania so desired it could acquire the necessary expertise and equipment within a few years from either Western suppliers like West Germany, Great Britain or France, or from the People’s Republic of China.[x] Indeed, West Germany, Great Britain and other NATO allies provided Romania with components for its nuclear program under U.S. authorization; with Henry Kissinger personally signing off on some of the transfers.[xi]
U.S. authorities proceeded from three basic assumptions regarding Romanian nuclear aims. Two of them, “to acquire technology necessary to ensure internal manufacturing capability for all nuclear power requirements” and “to develop export capability in field of nuclear power generation systems,” reflected accurately Bucharest’s position as stated to Washington.[xii] The third possible aim, never expressed as an intention by Bucharest, “to preserve and strengthen option of producing nuclear weapons at some unforeseen point in the future,” was an unverifiable but logical U.S. postulate – and specifically noted as such in U.S. assessment, which also noted the pledge of some Romanian authorities that their country would “never go this route.”[xiii]
Ceauşescu himself very consistently underscored that he could guarantee Romanian policy only for the foreseeable future, and that radical changes in the international environment could always prompt corresponding modifications the policy of his country under future leaders. Even with that hypothetical possibility, however, the United States still considered support of Romania’s nuclear program worth the risk. Driving that calculation in the late 1970s was more than 15 years of responsible Romanian international behavior. According to the U.S. assessment in 1976:
Considering these Romanian objectives, including the possibility that GOR [Government of Romania] may later elect to develop nuclear weapons, we still believe that our assistance to GOR’s nuclear power program will on balance strongly promote our bilateral and regional interests. … We judge from our assessment of Romanian capabilities that, if Romania were to opt to produce nuclear weapon, it can acquire necessary know-how and materiel over reasonably short span of years from Western suppliers such as Germans, British, or French, or even Chinese. …[And] we would argue that we should provide equipment and technology to Romania under conditions no more rigorous nor restrictive than we apply to other non-nuclear weapon states, in other words that we do not discriminate against Romania.[xiv]
The American gamble paid off. Throughout the rest of the Cold War Romania never faltered in its militancy for the reduction and destruction of all nuclear weapons, and it never acquired the bomb. Moreover, Romanian archives confirm that the anti-nuclear militancy of the regime was not only pursued “for show,” in international forums like the United Nations. Bucharest’s campaign for the halting, reduction and elimination of nuclear arms was consistently evident in senior leadership discussions with Europeans on both sides of the curtain, with China, with the Soviet Union, with the North Americans, and with the leaders of the developing world.[xv] Thus, Ceauşescu’s very clear statement in July 1984 that "if we wanted to manufacture a nuclear weapon today, we could do so,” provoked very little concern in Washington.[xvi] As usual, the Romanian leader immediately followed up that statement with a reaffirmation of his country’s policy against the acquisition and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, for their reduction globally and for their complete withdrawal from Europe.
Romanian declarations on this point remained highly credible because Bucharest had shown no interest in acquiring Soviet nuclear missiles after the Cuban Missile Crisis, nor had it hosted any Soviet nuclear devices ever since it first called for de-escalation and disarmament at the January 1965 summit of the Warsaw Pact. The veracity of its public positions is attested in Communist-era archives of the other alliance members, which demonstrate Bucharest’s persistent and singular campaign for nuclear de-escalation and disarmament within Warsaw Pact councils from the 1960s through the 1980s.[xvii]
Likewise, there was no claim of intent in Ceauşescu’s August 1988 declaration to Karoly Grosz, Hungary’s communist party leader and Prime Minister, that Romania had the know-how “to produce and manufacture anything, even nuclear devices.” [xviii] Nor was such intent expressed in his April 1989 statement to the Plenum of the Democracy and Socialist Unity Front that: “From the technical perspective, we have the capacity to build nuclear arms.”[xix] Only through the most egregious “cherry-picking” and deliberate misrepresentation could Ceauşescu’s speech be interpreted as indicating an intent to pursue or acquire a nuclear weapon. A fuller citation from that speech makes this clear. According to the Romanian leader:
We can produce any kind of equipment. There is, however, a single domain in which we do not want to produce anything: the domain of nuclear armament. Yes, we have the technological capacity; but we will not set out upon this path because we are firmly opposed to nuclear weapons whose use would mean the destruction of life on our planet; and we seek the elimination of nuclear weapons from all states of the world and we want a world without weapons and war.[xx]
In fact, every one of Ceauşescu assertions regarding Romanian ability to produce a nuclear weapon also stipulated that his country would not do so because it opposed their very existence. Privately with other world leaders, and with the Canadian firm that was building the CANDU reactor in Romania, Ceauşescu was even more frank. The policy of his country, like that of any other state, was conditioned by international circumstances and leadership preferences. Consequently, one could not swear the same policy would hold from one millennium to the next. As Ceausescu phrased it: “We do not have that intention now. But what will happen in the year 2000 is hard to say. No one can give guarantees regarding what will be in the year 2000.”[xxi]
At the same time, the Romanian leader very clearly pledged to the Canadians that they would never have to worry that their nuclear technology was used to produce a Romanian nuclear weapon:
I can guarantee that you will never face the accusation that due to this reactor, Romania has obtained a nuclear bomb. … Nuclear energy is not used by Romania for other than peaceful purposes.[xxii]
In 1992, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a finding of “non-compliance” against Romania following discovery of 100 milligrams of unreported plutonium at its Nuclear Research Institute in Pitesti. That finding placed it among the ranks of the rogue states (consisting at the time of Iraq, and later of North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria as well). It appears, however, that the finding of non-compliance was issued only at the insistence of Romanian officials for evidently political purposes. [xxiii] The plutonium, one-tenth the amount (1 gram) that required mandatory reporting to the IAEA, had been separated from spent fuel in December 1985 and then apparently forgotten until it was discovered by the new nuclear program authorities in April 1992.
According to Mohammed ElBaradei, then legal advisor to the IAEA Secretariat and future IAEA director general, "following Ceauşescu’s ouster, the new government requested a special inspection to show that, under Ceauşescu’s rule, Romania had reprocessed one hundred milligrams of plutonium without informing the IAEA."
Some Romanian officials and media then extrapolated an entire “secret” nuclear weapons program from this incident, insisting that the former regime – in fact, Romania – be condemned for it.[xxiv] In another uncharacteristic demonstration of voluntary transparency, Russian intelligence declassified its report of a vast Romanian covert weapons acquisition program that allegedly began in 1985 and would have achieved a bomb by 2000.[xxv] Russian intelligence (and a part of the Romanian media) then insisted that the alleged “secret program” had been made possible only because the United States had supplied the reactor and the highly enriched uranium fuel (HEU) at the end of the 1970s.[xxvi]
However, subsequent research at the IAEA has revealed that Bucharest’s experimentation was not nearly so covert as claimed by authorities in 1992. In fact, the Romanians had gone about it in exactly the right way, formally requesting a safeguards exemption for experimentation on a specific quantity of spent fuel.[xxvii] And the IAEA had granted that exemption.[xxviii] In addition, the spent fuel used in the experiment had no connection whatsoever to the HEU provided by the United States, as Russian intelligence insisted. [xxix] Romania had neither gone about its experimentation with spent fuel covertly, in order to hide its actions from the IAEA, nor had it misused any of the HEU provided by the United States. The spent fuel was, in fact, provided by the Soviet Union, and its transfer had been officiated by the IAEA itself.
experiment that yielded 100 milligrams of plutonium was conducted only once.[xxx]
It was not repeated. Nor was there any continued acquisition of plutonium by
other means that would have signaled the existence of a nuclear military
program. The production of what experts considered a "tiny" amount of plutonium in December 1985 was
not the “beginning of a covert program” to acquire the bomb; it marked the end of
an experimental cycle whose results were left to be forgotten on a shelf for
the next seven years.[xxxi]
|SVR: Russian Foreign Intelligence|
In addition, it appears that the IAEA was made aware of the experiment that resulted in the separation of the plutonium at the time.[xxxii] There are only two reasons why that information would not have caused the IAEA to react more forcefully, at least to the extent of implementing continued monitoring. The Romanians may have heeded an informal caution from the IAEA to cease and desist at the time. Or the incident was considered merely a “technical” transgression, given the quantities produced were so inconsequential as to belong to the gray zone of reporting requirements. [xxxiii] The plutonium, for example, may have been the by-product of one of the advanced fuel experiments to increase the "burn rate" of fuel that researchers frequently carried out in Pitesti.
According to General Victor Stănculescu, a senior officer responsible for military technology at the time (and later defense minister), his department did prepare feasibility studies on nuclear, biological and chemical deterrent options during the late 1970s.[xxxiv] However, on submitting the completed study on “developing nuclear capacities for the defense of the country,” the military was ordered not to pursue the nuclear option further and it remained “the least advanced” of all three potential deterrent options under study.[xxxv]
What “least advanced” meant can be gleaned from the fact that the Romanians did not produce either of the two other deterrent options once they had ascertained that they could. After cultivating possible viral components in the Army's research laboratories, the biological option was dropped from consideration, although studies did continue of the best responses to feared biological attacks on Romanian water supplies and population centers.[xxxvi] And once the technical challenges of producing sufficient material for a chemical weapon were resolved that program was also halted, with no chemical agents stockpiled or chemical warheads produced; their absence confirmed by post-1989 international monitors.[xxxvii]
It would appear that Romanian consideration of a nuclear weapon never left the initial stages of exploration, qualifying it neither as 'military' nor even as 'program.'[xxxviii] Indeed, the closer one looks at Romania’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the less there is to see. Hans Blix, the IAEA director general in 1992, chose the most informal of methods to argue for the finding of non-compliance that some authorities in Bucharest seemed to desire so ardently. He delivered a “single, oral report” to the IAEA Board of Governors, and explicitly acknowledged that the safeguards agreement with Romania was not designed to deal with such “very small quantities of nuclear material.”[xxxix]
Although not formally described as such, the IAEA considers Romania one of the less serious of the non-compliance cases, along with those of Egypt and South Korea. Only Egypt and South Korea were not found to be non-compliant at all. And of eight cases brought before the IAEA's Board of Governors as of 2016, only the Romanian has the distinction of having had no written report regarding it submitted to the IAEA. Even Egypt and South Korea did.
The process by which the discovery of the Romanian transgression and the finding of noncompliance came about, and the manner in which it has been recorded by the IAEA, suggests that something was not quite right. It appears as though the Agency may have been leveraged by Romanian officials into doing something it might otherwise not have done. As one researcher observed:
Little publicity was given to the case at the time or subsequently. Unlike other non-compliance cases, Romania does not have a special section on the IAEA website explaining the case. The Safeguards Statements for 1992 and 1993, incorporated in the Agency’s annual reports for those years, make no mention of it. Nor does the comprehensive verification chronology for 1992 compiled by the London-based non-governmental organization (NGO), the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC). The Secretariat was pre-occupied with the Iraq, North Korea, and South Africa verification cases at the time, but it is still puzzling that little publicity was given to the Agency’s use of a special inspection, even if only for demonstration purposes.
One senses a certain reluctance to draw attention to the case. Mohamed ElBaradei says bluntly the aim of the new Romanian government in seeking the special inspection was “to further discredit the former Communist president.”[xl]
[i] See e.g. Nepszabadsag, 17 May 1989; János Juhani Nagy, “Bonn-Bucharest Missile Business,” Budapester Rundschau, 29 May 1989; MTI in English, 5 June 1989.
[ii] The Treaty of Peace with Romania was signed on 10 February 1947 and entered into force on 15 September 1947. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949, Volume 4, Compiled under the direction of Charles I. Bevans LL.B., Washington, DC : Government Printing Office, 1969.
[iii] Article 2 of Treaty of Peace with Romania in Bevans (1969). Presumably, Moscow turned a blind eye to the SCUD-B and FROG-7 missiles it had supplied Romania with earlier. Romanian SCUDs were part of its contribution to the Warsaw Pact and were deployed according to Pact strategy, for possible future use against an invading, presumably NATO force coming northward through Bulgaria and or Yugoslavia. They were not deployed as part of Romania’s national territorial defense strategy.
[iv] “‘Dieselbe Fabrik entsteht’ in Rumänien” [The Same [Missile] Plant is Under Construction in Romania], Der Spiegel, No. 19, 8 May 1989, pp. 166-168, translated in JPRS Arms Control, May 17, 1989, pp. 54-55. Intermediate-range ballistic missiles have an operating range of 1,000 to 3,000 km. The reach of short-range missiles is between 300 and 1,000 km. Missiles with operating ranges 300 km and below are considered tactical.
[v] Vladimir Socor, “Ceauşescu Claims That Romania Could Make Nuclear Weapons,” Romanian Situation Report/4, RFER, 4 May 1989, item 4; Mihail E. Ionescu and Carmen Rîjnoveanu, “Percepţia României asupra descurajării nucleare” [Romania’s Perception On Nuclear Discouragement], Revista de Istorie Militară, vol. 5, no. 6 (2007), p. 6.
[vi] Francis J. Gavin, “Same As It Ever Was. Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation, and the Cold War,” International Security, vol. 34, no. 3 (Winter 2009/2010), p. 17; R. Eliza Gheorghe, “Romania’s Nuclear Negotiations Postures in the 1960s: Client, Maverick, and International Peace Mediator,” Romania Energy Center, 2012, pp. 21-22. Gheorghe’s basic premise is that Romania was a Soviet Trojan horse and its independence a sham (e.g. “if there was a maverick leader in Europe, it was de Gaulle and not Ceauşescu.” (p. 24)). Caution is advised in that Gheorghe’s claims of a Romanian nuclear weapons program, and of Ceausescu’s desire to acquire a bomb, are not supported by the archival documents she cites.
[vii] Raymond L. Garthoff, “When and Why Romania Distanced itself from the Warsaw Pact,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin, no. 5 (Spring 1995), p. 35; “Convorbiri neterminate cu Corneliu Mănescu” [Unfinished Conversations with Corneliu Mănescu] in Lavinia Betea, Partea lor de adevar [Their Side of the Truth], Bucharest, Compania, 2008, pp. 499-501. The United States found Romania’s repeatedly stated policy and consistent behavior against nuclear weapons persuasive. Consequently, it was “seldom” concerned that “Romania would divert its civilian program to military purposes.” Gheorghe (2012), pp. 21-22. Given the lack of evidence for any military nuclear program after the collapse of Communism in Romania, American faith seems to have been well-placed.
[viii] Memorandum of Conversation between Gheorghe Gaston-Marin and Averell Harriman, Washington, May 18, 1964, Document 142 in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Vol. XVII, Eastern Europe, p. 392; Gheorghe (2012), p. 19. After noting, in 1964, that Romania, along with Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Yugoslavia, was either building or “considering the construction of nuclear power reactors which could be used to produce plutonium,” and that therefore “might reach a stage where they could initiate a weapons program in the next decade,” the U.S. intelligence community declared its belief that “none of them will do so.” National Intelligence Estimate: Prospects for a Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Over the Next Decade (NIE 4-2-64), 21 October 1964, p. 14, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CIA Mandatory Review Appeal. Obtained and contributed by William Burr. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115994.
[ix] U.S.-Romanian Nuclear Cooperation, SecState Washington D.C. to AmEmbassy Ottowa, 3 February 1976, Margaret P. Grafeld, Declassified/Released U.S. Department of State EO Systematic Review, 4 May 2006, pp. 2-3, NARA, Access to Archives Database, http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=106853&dt=2476&dl=1345.
[x] Ibid; Gheorghe (2012), p. 35.
[xi] E.g., German Reactor Components to Romania, SecState Washington D.C. to USMission OECD Paris, 8 March 1976, and German Uranium to Romania, SecState Washington D.C. to USMission OECD Paris, 10 April 1976, Margaret P. Grafeld, Declassified/Released U.S. Department of State EO Systematic Review, 4 May 2006, pp. 2-3, NARA, http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=106853&dt=2476&dl=1345.
[xii] U.S.-Romanian Nuclear Cooperation (1976), http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=106853&dt=2476&dl=1345.
[xiii] Ibid. According to the assessment, “We postulate but cannot verify a third goal of GOR policy,” namely that of keeping the nuclear weapon option open. This U.S. postulate, along with Romania’s support of Chinese nuclear weapon acquisition in order to counterbalance the Soviet nuclear monopoly within the communist bloc, has been misinterpreted as representing an aim Romania actually sought for itself. For example, absent the “trigger” indicators of a weapons program (actual plans, budgeting, weaponizing of fissile materials, military involvement, etc.), one author simply asserts “that Romania had a nuclear weapons program in the late 1970s and 1980s.” Not surprisingly, the claim is unsourced. See Gheorghe (2012), pp. 3, 13-14, 21-22, 35. See also Eliza Gheorghe, “How to Become a Customer: Lessons from the Nuclear Negotiations between the U.S., Canada and Romania in the 1960s,” Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Issue Brief #2, 24 April 2013, p. 2. Gheorghe also claims Ceausescu expressed the desire and intention to procure a nuclear weapon in conversation with John S. Foster, the President of Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd, and Vice-President A. M. Aiken, in June 1976. However, the transcript of that meeting (at the Romanian National Archives: ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 79/1976, f. 10) indicates the very opposite, reaffirming Romanian commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear power while warning that nonproliferation was bound to fail unless the nuclear powers stopped accumulating more weapons and moved to their reduction and elimination. Eliza Gheorghe, “Frenemies, Nuclear Sharing, and Proliferation: The Eastern Bloc, 1965– 1969,” paper prepared for the Nuclear Studies Research Initiative workshop, Warrenton, Virginia, April 30 to May 2, 2015 available at www.academia.edu/14848234/Frenemies_Nuclear_Sharing_and_Proliferation_The_Eastern_Bloc_1965-1969
[xiv] U.S.-Romanian Nuclear Cooperation (1976), http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=106853&dt=2476&dl=1345.
[xv] The Romanians repeatedly expressed to the Chinese that non-proliferation would work only “if it is tied to a general process that encompasses non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, the interdiction of the use of nuclear weapons, and the destruction of nuclear weapons.” But if it was “not tied to an entire process of halting and destroying nuclear arms” then it would create a monopoly, allowing those possessing them to keep them, “increase their number and develop them further” without restriction, and granting a “political preponderance” to “whoever has such a powerful club in hand” that could be imposed on non-nuclear states. In consequence “every country that can build a nuclear weapon and that considers it necessary to possess one will do so.” See e.g. the discussion between Romanian Vice-President Emil Bodnaras and the Chinese Ambassador, January 28, 1965, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 4/1965, f. 43-58. Ceausescu explained this in even greater detail to former Vice-President Richard Nixon on March 22, 1967, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 15/1967, f. 4, 16-20. For the USSR see Ceausescu’s conversation with the President of the Soviet State Committee for Nuclear Energy, Andronik Petrosiants, May 16, 1981, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 53/1981, f.3, 7-12. For India see Ceausescu’s discussion with Indira Gandhi, October 19, 1967, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 88/1967, f. 4-6. For North Korea see the official Romanian-North Korean talks, May 20, 1978, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 66/1978, f. 2, 51-52 and Ceausescu’s discussion with Kim Il Sung, May 10-11, 1980, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 62/1980, f. 1, 26-27, 29-32. For Libya see Ceausescu’s conversation with the Libyan Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Abdel Magid Al-Kaud, December 2, 1981, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 91/1981, f. 3-5.
[xvi] Nicolae Ceauşescu in Hearst Interview and British Broadcasting Company (BBC), 9 July 1984. Vladimir Socor, “Soviet-Romanian Programs in Nuclear Energy Development,” RAD Background Report/129, RFER, 18 November 1985, pp. 1-2. Socor specified that all of his information came from Soviet sources.
[xvii] See e.g. Ceausescu’s statements in Minutes of Discussion of Report by the Supreme UAF Commander at the PCC Meeting, December 1978; Speech by the General Secretary of the PCR (Nicolae Ceausescu), 4 January 1983; and Records of the PCC Meeting in Bucharest: Speech by the General Secretary of the PCR (Nicolae Ceauşescu), 7 July 1989, all Courtesy of PHP, www.php.isn.ethz.ch, by permission of the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich on behalf of the PHP network.
[xviii] Reuters (Budapest), 15 November 1988.
[xix] Ceauşescu’s declaration was made before a Plenum of the Democracy and Socialist Unity Front in Bucharest. Ionescu and Rîjnoveanu (2007), p. 6. On the other hand, as former Romanian Foreign Minister Stefan Andrei observed, Ceausescu’s statements on this point proved to be a major diplomatic “gaffe” since they were easily spun as affirmations of dangerous intent and then used against Romania by Moscow and Budapest. Lavinia Betea, I Se Spunea Machiavelli: Stefan Andrei in Dialog cu Lavina Betea [The Call Me Machiavelli: Stefan Andrei in Dialogue with Lavina Betea], Bucharest, Adevarul 2011, p. 254.
[xx] Radio Bucharest, 14 April 1989, 2100 hrs. See also Romania Situation Report/4, RFER, 4 May 1989, item 4.
[xxi] Transcript of Reception by Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu, President of the Socialist Republic of Romania, of the President of Atomic Energy Canada, Ltd (AECL), John S. Foster and of the Vice-President of the Agency, A. M. Aiken, June 16, 1976, ANR, Fond CC al PCR, Sectia Relatii Externe, dosar 79/1976, f. 1-15. Presumably, the already ailing 82 year-old Ceauşescu was referring to the fact that he would no longer be determining policy.
[xxiii] Mohamed ElBaradei, The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2011, p. 42.
[xxiv] See Petre T. Frangopol, Mediocritate Si Excelenta: O Radiografie a Stiintei si Invatamantului din Romania [Mediocrity and Excellence: An X-Ray of Science and Education in Romania], volume II, Cluj-Napoca, Casa Cartii de Stiinta, 2005, pp. 125-126. See also “Baietul’ lui Ceausescu, Mort in Fasa” [Ceausescu’s ‘Little Boy,’ Dead in the Womb,” Evenimentul Zilei, December 10, 2002, http://www.evz.ro/articole/detalii-articol/513785/Baietelul-lui-Ceausescu-mort-in-fasa/.
[xxvi] Ibid. See also “Officer Died at Explosion of Nuclear Object in Romania,” Omkpытaя Элekтproнная Газeтa [Open Electronic Newspaper], February 25, 2009, http://forum-msk.org/english/material/eng_news/769077.htmland “Ceausescu Effort to Build Nuclear Bomb Reported,” Bucharest, Evenimentul Zilei, May 19, 1992, in FBIS-EEU-93-092, May 14, 1993, p. 14. (A synopsis of this article appeared as “Romania Planned Atom Bomb”, Rompres, 26 May 1993.). See also “Baietul’ lui Ceausescu, Mort in Fasa,” Evenimentul Zilei, December 10, 2002.
[xxvii] As one authority reported, the Romania’s Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA provided “for material up to certain quantities to be exempted from safeguards” and the “Romanians had asked the IAEA to exempt a small quantity of spent fuel and had then conducted plutonium separation experiments in a hot cell.” Trevor Findlay, “Proliferation Alert! The IAEA And Non-Compliance Reporting,” Project On Managing the Atom, Report #2015-04, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 2015, p. 5, footnote 87. Under the Safeguards Agreement (INFCIRC/180) reporting the presence of one or more grams of plutonium was mandatory (at the time 8 kg were thought necessary for a bomb). In its “definitions” section of the agreement on transferring spent fuel to Romania for experimentation, the IAEA identified the “units of account” as “grams of contained plutonium” and “kilograms of contained thorium, natural uranium or depleted uranium.” See the agreement concerning the IAEA's “Assistance to Romania for the Transfer of Enriched Uranium for Irradiation Studies in a Research Reactor,” INFCIRC/307, December 1, 1983, article 98, point d., pp. 10, https://www.iaea.org/publications/documents/infcircs/text-agreement-1-july-1983-concerning-agencys-assistance-romania. The December 1985 experiment produced only one-tenth that amount (100 milligrams), granting more room for interpretation then the finding of non-compliance suggested. Moreover, INFCIRC/307 allowed that Romania could remedy any determinations of non-compliance – “take fully corrective action within a reasonable time” – before the IAEA Board would “take other measures.” See article VI “Safeguards,” point 4, in Ibid, pages 3-4. Hans Blix signed INFCIRC/307.
[xxviii] Ibid; Findlay (2015), p. 5.
[xxix] According to the preamble, “arrangements have been made between the Agency and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (hereinafter called the “Soviet Union”) for the provision of uranium dioxide powder containing enriched uranium for use in the project.” See also Article II, 1. & 2., INFCIRC (1983), p. 2.
[xxx] Findlay (2015), p. 53; Ann MacLachlan, “Romania Separated Tiny Amount of Plutonium in Secret in 1985,” Nucleonics Week, Vol. 33, No. 26, June 25, 1992, p. 16.
[xxxi] MacLachlan, “Romania Separated Tiny Amount of Plutonium” (1992), p. 16
[xxxii] Suzanna Van Moyland, Sustaining a Verification Regime in a Nuclear Weapon-Free World, Research Report No 4, London, Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), June 1999, pp. 14-15, http://www.vertic.org/media/Archived_Publications/Research_Reports/Research_Report_4_Van_Moyland.pdf; Leonard S. Spector, Mark G. McDonough with Evan S. Medeiros, Tracking Nuclear Proliferation, New York, Carnegie Endowment, 1995, pp. 83, 86.
[xxxiii] Van Moyland (1999), pp. 14-15. Van Moyland’s third hypothesis, that the IAEA remained silent in order to protect a source, is improbable. The IAEA would have monitored the country more closely or, at the very least, recorded its suspicions. It would not have ignored the transgression.
[xxxiv] Alex Mihai Stoenescu, In sfirsit, adevarul … General Victor Atanasie Stanculescu in dialog cu Alex Mihai Stoenscu [Finally, The Truth … General Victor Atanasie Stanculescu in Dialogue with Alex Mihai Stoenescu], Bucharest, RAO, 2009, pp. 210-214.
[xxxvi] Stoenescu (2009), pp. 210-211. According to Stanculescu, “the Unit in Bacau, the 404th Reconnaissance, was designated and instructed to handle a bacteriologic attack against our major cities and in case the large water reservoirs were hit.”
[xxxvii] Author’s interview with General Ioan Talpes, former Director of Romanian Foreign Intelligence (SIE) during 1992-1997, June 16, 1995.
[xxxviii] Proliferation specialists are divided on how to classify Romania. On the one hand, Russian intelligence sources and Romanian media insist that Ceausescu was pursuing and on the verge of acquiring a bomb. On the other, there is a thorough-going lack of concrete evidence to that effect. Some place Romania in the same category as Sweden, Switzerland, West Germany, Italy, Norway, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia and Taiwan, all states that seriously studied the possibility and desirability of acquiring a nuclear weapon and then renounced the project as not worth the cost. See for example, Matthew Kroenig, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: Is There A Link?” Georgetown University, October 30, 2014, p. 22, footnote 14, p. 38, http://www.matthewkroenig.com/Kroenig_U.S.%20Nuclear%20Weapons%20and%20Nonproliferation.pdf. See also Sonail Singh and Christopher Way, “The Correlates of Nuclear Proliferation,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 48, no. 6 (2004): 859-885. Others, relying on the authority of the Romanian media and/or Russian intelligence and/or the defector Ion Mihai Pacepa (who admits that he was a Soviet agent working for the KGB while deputy head of Romanian foreign intelligence), classify it along with those pursing a nuclear bomb, even while acknowledging that details of the program are woefully “incomplete.” See e.g. Jacques E. C. Hymans, “Estimating the DPRK’s Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A Comparative Foreign Policy Approach,” EAI Working Paper Series #8, East Asia Institute, April 2007, p. 23. And some start out citing Romania as a case study of non-compliance only to consign it to a mere footnote because of the lack of evidence or identifiable logic behind such an alleged program. See e.g. Nuno P. Monteiro and Alexandre Debs, “The Strategic Logic of Nuclear Proliferation,” International Security, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Fall 2004), pp. 21, 23 and footnote 28. Compare also Hymans (2007) with Jacques Hymans, Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 67, 241.
[xxxix] Findlay (2015), pp. 24, 37-38; IAEA, Record of GOV/OR Meeting 780, Tuesday, June 16, 1992, 10:05 a.m.
[xl] Findlay (2015), p. 38. See also J.B. Poole and R. Guthrie, editors, Verification 1993: Peacekeeping, Arms Control and the Environment, London, Brassey’s/VERTIC, 1993, pp. 11-22.