Report Suggests Iran Tried to Buy Copper, Aluminum

Elements Could Be Used for Something Weapons Related, Investigation Figures

Investigating the persistent, evidence-free assumptions that the Iranian government is involved in some untoward effort to produce something nuclear weapons related, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed today that Iran has purchased tungsten copper, and has been prevented from receiving a shipment of aluminum sheets.

The journal reports that tungsten copper could be used in a “missile guidance system,” and to the extent that the ubiquitous alloy is used as a contact material in many electronics they are technically correct. However, as it is commonly used in any number of industries it seems hard to conclude, as the WSJ suggests, that Iran is trying to build long-range nuclear missiles.

The United Arab Emirates also apparently prevented Iran from acquiring aluminum sheets, with the implication that they might be used in missiles. Again, it seems hard to argue that the corrosion-resistant metal is not hypothetically usable as one of the components of a missile. Yet as the world’s second most widely used metal (second only to iron) it too seems far short of proof of insidious intent.

Yet for a nation like Iran, even the acquisition of two extremely common industrial metals is seen as damning evidence. In 2009, the smoking gun isn’t a mushroom cloud, its an ingot of copper.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.