David Albright

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This article is about the Institute for Science and International Security founder and president. For the Canadian football player, see Dave Albright.
David Albright at a house subcommittee hearing on the Iranian Nuclear Talks, 2014

David Albright, M.Sc., is the founder of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), its current president, and author of several books on proliferation of atomic weapons. Albright holds a Master of Science in physics from Indiana University and a M.Sc. in mathematics from Wright State University. He has taught physics at George Mason University in Virginia.

From 1990 to 2001, Albright was a member of the Colorado State Health Advisory Panel, participating in its assessment of the toxicological and radiological effects on the population near the Rocky Flats atomic weapons production site.

1992–97, David Albright was associated with the International Atomic Energy Agency's Action Team. In June 1996, he was invited to be the first non-governmental inspector of Iraq's nuclear program and questioned Iraqi officials about that country's uranium enrichment program.

In 2001 Albright prepared an analysis, for CNN, of documents found in an abandoned Al Qaeda safe house in Kabul believed to have been used by Abu Khabbab, who they described as "Osama bin Laden's top chemical and biological weapons commander."[1] Albright confirmed the abandoned documents included plans for a nuclear bomb, and extensive training notes on the handling of radiological material.

In September 2002, Albright and his organization ISIS were the first to publicly criticize the claims of the Bush administration and the CIA about the infamous Iraqi aluminum tubes. In response to Iraqi aluminum tubes, Albright said it was far from clear that the tubes were intended for a uranium centrifuge.[2] From the August/September 2003 American Journalism Review: "On December 8 [2002] Bob Simon reported on 60 Minutes that the aluminum tubes story was being challenged. He quoted British intelligence officials and David Albright, a weapons inspector in Iraq for the U.N. in the 1990s. Albright said, 'People who understood gas centrifuges almost uniformly felt that these tubes were not specific to gas centrifuge use.' Simon said to Albright: 'It seems that what you're suggesting is that the administration's leak to the New York Times, regarding aluminum tubes, was misleading?' Albright: 'Oh, I think it was. I think—I think it was very misleading.'"[3]

"If the U.S. government puts out bad information it runs a risk of undermining the good information it possesses. In this case, I fear that the information was put out there for a short-term political goal: to convince people that Saddam Hussein is close to acquiring nuclear weapons."[4]

Albright subsequently exposed flaws in the Bush administration's other so-called nuclear evidence in the run-up to the Iraq war. Prior to the start of the war, he also became skeptical that Iraq had sizeable stocks of chemical and biological weapons.

A National Journal profile in 2004 called Albright a "go-to guy for media people seeking independent analysis on Iraq's [weapons of mass destruction] programs."[5]

In 2006 Albright received the prestigious Joseph A. Burton Forum Award from the American Physical Society, a professional society of American physicists. He was cited "For his tireless and productive efforts to slow the transfer of nuclear weapons technology. He brings a unique combination of deep understanding, objectivity, and effectiveness to this vexed area."[6]

A report by Albright was quoted in a June 15, 2008 article in the Washington Post.[7] He stated in a leaked copy of a draft report (to be released in full the week of June 15, 2008) that a nuclear weapons smuggling ring—which sold bomb-related parts to Libya, North Korea, and Iran—possessed plans to an advanced nuclear device, compact enough to fit on a ballistic missile used by Iran and a dozen other developing countries. It was unknown if these plans had been shared with any regime; and the plans had recently been destroyed.[8]

Albright was a guest on The Colbert Report February 2011[9] and spoke about Stuxnet.

On September 1, 2016, Albright and Andrea Stricker wrote: JCPOA Exemptions Revealed The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on January 16, 2016.* Most of the conditions were met by Iran. However, we have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms (kg), some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran. One senior knowledgeable official stated that if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day.

Recently the Joint Commission created a Technical Working Group to consider further exemptions to Iran’s stock of 3.5 percent low enriched uranium. This cap is set at 300 kg of LEU hexafluoride but Iran apparently has or could exceed the cap if no further exemptions are granted by the Joint Commission.

The decisions of the Joint Commission have not been announced publicly. The Obama administration informed Congress of key Joint Commission decisions on Implementation Day but in a confidential manner. These decisions, which are written down, amount to additional secret or confidential documents linked to the JCPOA. Since the JCPOA is public, any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified. Moreover, the Joint Commission’s secretive decision making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.

Given the technical complexity and public importance of the various JCPOA exemptions and loopholes, the administration’s policy to maintain secrecy interferes in the process of establishing adequate Congressional and public oversight of the JCPOA. This is particularly true concerning potentially agreement-weakening decisions by the Joint Commission. As a matter of policy, the United States should agree to any exemptions or loopholes in the JCPOA only if the decisions are simultaneously made public.

Full report in PDF:



  1. ^ "CNN Discovers al Qaeda's Blueprints for Bombs". CNN. 2002-06-10. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  2. ^ Julian Borger in Washington (October 9, 2002). "White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat'". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  3. ^ Charles Layton (August–September 2003). "Miller Brouhaha". American Journalism Review. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Claim on Iraqi Nuclear Program Is Called Into Question". The Washington Post. January 24, 2003. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ Gregg Sangillo and Mark Kukis (May 25, 2004). "The Experts: Weapons Threat Nuclear, and Other, Worries". National Journal. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.aps.org/programs/honors/prizes/prizerecipient.cfm?name=David%20Albright&year=2006
  7. ^ Warrick, Joby (2008-06-15). "Smugglers Had Design for Advanced Warhead". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  8. ^ "Fears over nuclear weapon plans". BBC News. June 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  9. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1844176/

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