Jeffrey LewisWhat the F*ck is Don Rumsfeld Talking About?

Today’s Washington Times reports:

Mr. Rumsfeld said in a recent interview that unless measures are taken to halt proliferation, as many as five additional nuclear-weapons powers could emerge.

Just talking outta his ass, per usual

FIVE? Which ones?

The most recent Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions lists five countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria—but presumably Libya is now off the list and we aren’t planning on turning any over to Moqtada Al-Sadr’s Islamic Republic of Iraq. And didn’t Don already claim North Korea had nuclear weapons?

So what is with five? I count two: Iran and Syria.

But wait—this is not the first time Don predicted proliferation. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Rumsfeld warned:

In 1972, we knew of only five countries that had nuclear weapons programs; today we know of twelve.

I can’t fathom how he got to these numbers, by the way. In 1972, there were a lot more than five programs. Let’s do the math for 2001:

  • Five (5) inside the NPT: China, France, Russia, the US, and the UK.
  • Three (3) outside the NPT: India, Israel and Pakistan.

Leaving a total of four (4), presumably including North Korea, Iran, Libya, and the “now disarmed” Iraq. Maybe he forgot Syria (or didn’t know about Libya … or knew about Iraq). Anyway, after “disarming” Libya and Iraq, Rummy now says five new nuclear weapons states without drastic action.

So, here is a question for Rummy: How many new nuclear programs do you believe have begun since the Bush Administration took office? Or do you just make this shit up?


  1. Michael Roston (History)

    Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Syria.

  2. Stephen Moore (History)

    Here’s an April 2004 factsheet from the Arms Control Association.

    The sheet’s authors [including sometimes Arms Control Wonk Paul Kerr] say Brazil has shelved its programme, and add this re: Syria

    “U.S. officials sometimes name Syria as covertly seeking nuclear weapons. Syria has forsworn nuclear weapons as a state-party to the NPT and its nuclear research reactor is subject to IAEA monitoring. The Pentagon stated in 2001 that Syria is not pursuing nuclear weapons. However, the CIA cautioned in late 2003, “broader access to foreign expertise provides opportunities to expand its indigenous capabilities and we are looking at Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern.”

    [Editor’s note: The sheet estimates “approximately 300 strategic warheads and 120 tactical warheads” for China. I think—and have told Paul—that “more than 100” would be a better estimate for China. I find it highly improbable that China has 300 strategic warheads. See my posts on 07 March 2004 ; 30 March 2004 ; and 1 December 2004 .]