Institute for Science and International Security

Institute for Science and International Security

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The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) is a non-profit institution founded in 1993 to inform "the public about science and policy issues affecting international security". The group is led by founder and former United Nations IAEA nuclear inspector David Albright
David Albright
David Albright, M.S., is the founder of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security , 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...


Board and funding

ISIS's board consists of the following members:

David Albright- Chairman/President

Michael Rietz- Treasurer, Lawyer, private practice

John Redick- Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation

Steven Aftergood- Federation of American Scientists

Corey Hinderstein- Nuclear Threat Initiative

ISIS has been funded by: Ploughshares Fund, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Colombe Foundation, New-Land Foundation, The Prospect Hill Foundation, United States Institute of Peace, The International Atomic Energy Agency, Ford Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Compton Foundation, The Stanley Foundation, The John Merck Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, United States Department of Energy


ISIS's staff consists of the following people:
  • David Albright
    David Albright
    David Albright, M.S., is the founder of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security , 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...

     – President and Founder of ISIS
  • Paul Brannan – Senior Research Analyst
  • Andrea Stricker – Research Analyst and Public Relations Assistant
  • Robert Avagyan, Research Analyst
  • Christina Walrond, Research Analyst
  • Susan Basu – Consultant
  • Mahdi Obeidi – Consultant

Focus and analysis

The institute regularly publishes technical analyses of nuclear proliferation programs by examining technical data and satellite imagery. ISIS is cited in non-proliferation circles and in international media regarding its analysis. The majority of the current material produced by ISIS is focused on the analysis and monitoring of the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, and cases of worldwide illicit nuclear trade.

ISIS and Iraq

In August 1991, David Albright and Mark Hibbs, writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a nontechnical online magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...

 wrote that there were many technological challenges unsolved with Iraq's nuclear program. Albright and Hibbs wrote that Iraq's nuclear program "was so primitive that the international sanctions put in place after the August 2 invasion may have had more substantive effect than the tons of bombs dropped by U.S. and allied planes five months later".

David Albright made a number of comments during the lead up to and breakout of the 2003 Iraq War.

In response to Iraqi aluminum tubes, Albright said it was far from clear that the tubes were intended for a uranium centrifuge. "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."

In an October 2002 posting ISIS published a report which said "One of the most significant accomplishments of the intrusive inspections mandated by UN Security Council in 1991 is that Iraq is not believed to have nuclear weapons now. This single accomplishment demonstrates both the power and value of intrusive nuclear inspections in Iraq." The report further argued that "the nuclear inspection process provided a powerful deterrent against Iraq reconstituting its nuclear weapons program until inspectors left in late 1998."

ISIS and Iran

ISIS has been following the circumstances surrounding the Iranian nuclear program and has created a website dedicated to informing readers about the history of Iran's nuclear program and facilities, providing IAEA reports, providing information about diplomatic efforts, and providing ISIS technical assessments.

A June 2009 posting on ISIS argued that "we do know that a lasting, military solution to Iran’s nuclear program is not realistic. This leaves diplomacy as the best route to bring about a suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, regardless of who holds Iran’s presidency."

On October 2, 2009 ISIS posted a subject to revision working document with an unknown author which it described as an "Internal IAEA Document on Alleged Iranian Nuclear Weaponization". The document led media to report that Iran has tested a two-point implosion design. Gordon Oehler, who ran the CIA’s nonproliferation center and served as deputy director of the presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction, wrote “if someone has a good idea for a missile program, and he has really good connections, he’ll get that program through.. But that doesn’t mean there is a master plan for a nuclear weapon.” Outside experts noted that the parts of the report made public lack many dates associated with Iran's alleged activities. The Washington Post reported that "nowhere are there construction orders, payment invoices, or more than a handful of names and locations possibly connected to the projects." Former IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency didn't have any information that nuclear material has been used and didn't have any information that any components of nuclear weapons had been manufactured. Iran asserted that the documents were a fabrication, while the IAEA urged Iran to be more cooperative and Member States to provide more information about the allegations to be shared with Iran.

In December 2009, the conservative-leaning The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, working with ISIS analysis, claimed that a document from an unnamed Asian intelligence agency described the use of a neutron source which has no use other than in a nuclear weapon, and claimed the document appeared to be from an office in Iran's Defense Ministry and may have been from around 2007. The Institute for Science and International Security, said that it “urges caution and further assessment” of the document and noted that "the document does not mention nuclear weapons .. and we have seen no evidence of an Iranian decision to build them.” Western intelligence agencies did not give any authentication to the document, while Russia noted that though the IAEA is in possession of these documents, the IAEA's findings "do not contain any conclusions about the presence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran." In response to allegations that the document was forged from Iran and some within the United States, Albright said ISIS felt "that this document does need to be authenticated, and we welcome a debate and actually a collecting [of] information from people, people who've done linguistic analysis, inside information". Anton Khlopkov, the founding director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, said the media leak may be being used "as a pretext for inciting the campaign against Iran."

ISIS and Myanmar

In a January 28, 2010 report, ISIS found: "There remain sound reasons to suspect that the military regime in Burma might be pursuing a long-term strategy to make nuclear weapons. Despite the public reports to the contrary, the military junta does not appear to be close to establishing a significant nuclear capability. Information suggesting the construction of major nuclear facilities appears unreliable or inconclusive." During an ASEAN meeting in Thailand in July 2009, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton highlighted concerns of the North Korean link. "We know there are also growing concerns about military cooperation between North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and Burma which we take very seriously," Clinton said.

Reception to ISIS

A National Journal
National Journal
National Journal is a nonpartisan American weekly magazine that reports on the current political environment and emerging political and policy trends. National Journal was first published in 1969. Times Mirror owned the magazine from 1986 to 1997, when it was purchased by David G. Bradley...

profile in 2004 called Albright a “go-to guy for media people seeking independent analysis on Iraq’s [weapons of mass destruction] programs.”

In 2006, David 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.”

External links