Concern about nuclear matériel and components falling into the hands of irresponsible organizations or governments has led Western intelligence agencies to monitor the work of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) in Vienna and intervene to prevent the spread of plutonium, weapons-grade uranium, and the equipment required to enrich atomic fuel. The first significant atomic development by a nonsignatory of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty was Israel, which built a civil reactor at Dimona and then began to accumulate a nuclear arsenal of landmines and free-fall bombs. Successive Israeli governments have consistently refused to allow external inspection of the site, but disclosures made by a former technician, Mordechai Vanunu, in 1986, a year after he had been laid off, served to prove that Israel had acquired a far larger atomic stockpile than anticipated.
With 40 countries possessing the technology to construct reactors, the IAEA’s task is to detect any enrichment program and give advice to the United Nations Security Council regarding the production of weapons-grade matériel or the acquisition of other essential equipment or components. IAEA investigations conducted in Iran, Libya, and North Korea have demonstrated the spread of expertise from Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan and the former Soviet republics, and the inability of international inspectors to gain access to suspect sites in Iraq proved to be one of the catalysts for the 1992 Gulf War.