Sodium sulfide is not the sort of contraband that customs inspectors are traditionally trained to look for, but the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Commodity Identification Training program is working to stop illicit trafficking of materials and equipment needed for weapons of mass destruction. Trainers provided inspectors with a valuable booklet recently developed by Argonne’s Nonproliferation and National Security Program. The booklet is an index and cross reference for customs inspectors that lists in six distinct ways chemicals used in the development of chemical weapons, nuclear weapons or missiles. The booklet greatly simplifies and facilitates the task of determining if a given chemical falls under one of the multilateral export control regimes. “It was a good intercept,” said Pete Heine, Argonne’s Section Manager for Export Control and Technical Cooperation. “Whether it was actually going for a chemical weapons program or not is still being determined. Sodium sulfide can be used for leather tanning, but it is a chemical-weapon precursor and required a license to be moved legally.” Argonne led the development of the Commodity Identification Training program for the U.S. Department of Energy’s International Nonproliferation Export Control Program (INECP). The program is establishing ongoing training courses in dozens of countries to teach customs inspectors to spot these items. “These are the people on the front line who can and will prevent proliferation,” said Heine. “This seizure is proof that Commodity Identification Training works,” Heine said. “We want inspectors to have a ‘trained eye’ to watch for the right things. They can determine when shipments may require an export license. For export control efforts to have an impact on proliferators, illicit shipments must be detected and interdicted.” “People now understand the importance of nonproliferation,” said export control specialist Kirsten Laurin-Kovitz, “but often don’t understand how it works. Export control is where nonproliferation becomes real. We try to prevent controlled technology, equipment or materials from getting into the wrong hands.” Argonne’s export control group supports the strengthening of export control systems worldwide through the INECP and by supporting U.S. participation in the multilateral export control regimes, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The group also contributes to the implementation of the U.S. export-control system in accordance with the norms set by those regimes. Groundbreaking handbook Training is just one of the Nuclear Engineering Division’s export control programs. Another critical element is providing expertise. For example, the chemical index that inspectors used was derived from a book written by Argonne chemist Julie Gruetzmacher. Gruetzmacher is Argonne’s Walter H. Zinn Postdoctoral Fellow. Called A Handbook for the Australia Group Chemical Weapons Precursors, it is a one-stop reference manual for chemical-export-control personnel. This book provides a wealth of information related to each of the chemical-weapon ingredients on the Australian Group Chemical Control List. The Australia Group is an arrangement among 38 member countries to minimize the risk of chemical and biological weapon proliferation. “This handbook is a sorely needed resource to inform export control decision-making related to these chemicals,” said Heine. Recent revelations of ongoing proliferation of nuclear-related equipment, materials and technology, facilitated by elaborate procurement networks like that of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, demonstrate that proliferation is changing. According to Laurin-Kovitz, proliferation used to be primarily the domain of middle men working as procurement agents. Now proliferators are organizing supplier networks, working as salesmen and brokers marketing nuclear capabilities, and even establishing dedicated manufacturing operations of their own for difficult-to-obtain items. Accordingly, another major component of export controls at Argonne is proliferation risk analysis. “The challenge in export control is staying ahead of the bad guys,” said Heine. “People are being arrested for these activities, and as more countries criminalize proliferation, we will see a change.”