Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

cases such research should be classified for reasons of national security; and (3) that in a few specific cases, limited control measures short of outright classification may be warranted.


The Relation to Controls

The fundamental justification for controls is that they retard the rate of advance of Soviet military capacity by preventing Soviet access to relevant American science. Specific questions that must be evaluated in order to assess the merits of this justification are the extent to which Soviet military strength depends on U.S. technology in general, the extent to which Soviet military advances—either immediate or long-term—benefit from U.S. academic research, and the relative contribution to leakage accounted for by the different channels of scientific communication (e.g., visits by foreign scientists scientific visitors to the United States, published papers, oral presentations, and espionage).

The Panel’s Assessment

The evidence reviewed by the Panel on the overall problem of leakage from all sources suggests that a substantial and serious technology transfer problem exists. A net flow of products, processes, and ideas is continually moving from the United States and its allies to the Soviet Union through both overt and covert means. A substantial portion of this unwanted transfer has been of little consequence to U.S. security, either because the United States did not enjoy a monopoly on a particular technology or because the technology in question had little or no military application. The Panel has also found, however, that a significant portion of the transfer has been damaging to national security.

The ease of global communications and the constant expansion of overseas sales of American products have increased greatly the number of points at which U.S. science and technology can be acquired. The loss of technology through non-U.S. sources continues to be a problem, despite efforts to reduce leakage from the West by tightening COCOM restrictions. In fact, as channels of leakage from the United States are closed or constricted, third countries may become much more attractive targets for acquisition. Stemming the overall flow of technology thus presents a very difficult challenge for the United States and its allies.

The losses of concern are not restricted to transfers to the Soviet Union. Technology transfers to Third World countries will permit them to modernize their military establishments faster and more efficiently; however, knowledge about the extent of this aspect of the leakage problem is fragmentary.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement