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In the 1980s, during the rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romania had a secret program intended to develop nuclear weapons, violating its ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty from 1970.[1] The program was dismantled after the Romanian Revolution and currently, Romania is considered free of weapons of mass destruction, using nuclear power just for civilian purposes.[1]

Nuclear program[]

While Romania had a nuclear research program since 1949, for the first decades, it focused on the usage of radioactive isotopes in medicine and industry. The military program was started in 1978, together with the program for the first power plant. The WMD research program (Programul Dunărea - Danube Program) was conducted at the Măgurele Nuclear Research Institute, under the strict supervision of the Securitate.[2]

According to Mihai Bălănescu, the former director of the research institute, the program had three departments: one which dealt with the development of nuclear weapons, one for the development of medium-range missiles and a third which dealt with chemical and biological weapons.[2]

The defection of Securitate general Ion Mihai Pacepa was, according to Lucia Hossu Longin, at least in part related to the order given to him by Ceauşescu, to obtain the technology for a certain element needed in the development of nuclear weapons.[3]

In July 1989, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn accused Romania of posing military threats to Hungary, through its nuclear program and a medium-range missiles development program. Horn claimed that high-level Romanian officials announced that Romania is capable of building such weapons, but the Romanian Government denied such claims.[4]

Anti-nuclear rallies[]

Despite of this secret program, Ceauşescu's government did organize massive rallies against nuclear proliferation. For instance, at one such rally in December 1981, he addressed a crowd of 300,000 arguing that people in both East and West should "stop those who are preparing atomic war."[5] He also urged the US and USSR to end the arms race which led to the placement of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, arguing that only by stopping this race could "humanity ... be saved from a catastrophe".[6]

In 1989, Ceauşescu claimed that Romania had the technology to build nuclear weapons, but that he remained "firmly resolved to fight against nuclear weapons".[7]

Deals with other countries[]

Romania was also involved on the black market of nuclear technology and materials: after 1989, it was revealed that in 1986, the Ceauşescu Government improperly diverted a supply of 14 tonnes[8] of heavy water originating in Norway to India.[9] Heavy water is an important ingredient in the creation of nuclear weapons and the shipment to India was another violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

After the 1989 Revolution[]

After the 1989 Romanian Revolution, Romania announced the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it had 100 mg of plutonium separated in 1985 at the Piteşti Nuclear Research Institute and it allowed the IAEA full access to its facilities for inspection and monitoring of other violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.[1] According to a 1992 article in Nucleonics Week, the plutonium was made using a TRIGA research reactor, given to Romania by the United States in the 1970s.[1]

In 2003, Romania handed over to the IAEA 15 kg of highly enriched uranium fuel for the research reactor.[1]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Tracking Nuclear Proliferation – Romania at PBS, May 2, 2005
  2. 2.0 2.1 "'Baietelul' lui Ceausescu, mort in fasa", Evenimentul Zilei, 10 December 2002
  3. "Pacepa a fugit din ţară pentru că Ceauşescu l-a obligat să obţină un element pentru fabricarea bombei atomice, spune L. Hossu Longin", Realitatea TV, July 5, 2009
  4. Hungary Accuses Rumania of Military Threats", The New York Times, July 11, 1989
  5. "300,000 in Romania Protest Nuclear Weapons", The Washington Post, December 6, 1981, p. A19
  6. "End the arms race, Romanian leader says", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette October 16, 1984, p. 12
  7. "Romanian Nuclear Claim", San Jose Mercury News, April 16, 1989, Page 19A
  8. "India is pressed on atom project", New York Times, February 12, 1992
  9. "Romania Is Reported in Nuclear Deal With India", New York Times, April 30, 1990

External links[]

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