US embassy cable - 06STATE146965


Identifier: 06STATE146965
Wikileaks: View 06STATE146965 at
Origin: Secretary of State
Created: 2006-09-06 20:45:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P R 062045Z SEP 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 146965 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2031 
Classified By: ISN/MTR Director Pam Durham. 
Reasons: 1.4 (B), (D). 
1. (U)  This is an action request.  Please see paragraph 2. 
2. (C)  ACTION REQUEST:  Request Embassy Paris provide the 
interagency cleared paper on "Missile Useful Chemicals that 
are not MTCR-controlled" in paragraph 3 below to the French 
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Point of Contact 
(POC) for distribution to all Partners.  Also request Embassy 
London provide paper to the MTCR Information Exchange (IE) 
Co-Chair (John Andrews), and Embassy Copenhagen provide paper 
to the Danish MTCR Plenary Chair.  Info addressees also may 
provide to host government officials as appropriate.  In 
delivering paper, posts should indicate that the U.S. is 
sharing this paper as part of our preparation for the 
Information Exchange that will be held in conjunction with 
the October 2-6, 2006 MTCR Plenary.  NOTE:  Additional IE 
papers will be provided via septels in the coming weeks.  END 
Missile-Useful Chemicals That Are Not 
Probably the most difficult materials to control from a 
ballistic missile standpoint are many of the chemicals used 
to manufacture and process solid propellants.  In general, 
solid propellants are a blended chemical mixture of oxidizer 
and fuel substances held together by polymeric binders.  At 
times, the fuel and the binder may be the same. 
Additionally, several agents may be used to enhance the 
bonding of the binders with propellant ingredients and small 
amounts of additives may be used to alter the propellant's 
physical properties.  While most of the major ingredients in 
solid propellants such as the binders Hydroxyl-terminated 
polybutadiene (HTPB), Carboxyl-terminated polybutadiene 
(CTPB), Polybutadiene-acrylic acid-acrylonitrite terpolymer 
(PBAN), etc. and oxidizers such as ammonium perchlorate are 
controlled, there are many chemicals used as minor 
ingredients that are not controlled because of their 
widespread use in non-missile related industries.  The 
following are several chemicals grouped by their 
use or category in solid propellants that are not controlled 
by the MTCR, but are often used in the propellant production 
The following are binders that can be used or have been used 
in solid propellants, but have widespread use in other 
industries such as polyurethane rubbers, caulks, sealants, 
etc.  All of these materials are produced in the U.S., 
Europe, Russia, and many third world countries with a basic 
chemical industry. 
1) Polypropylene glycol (PPG). PPG is one of the earliest 
binders used in solid propellants.  Its major use is in the 
polyurethane rubber and sealants industries, but it is quite 
suitable for use as a binder when HTPB or other more 
state-of-the-art binders are not available. 
2) Polydiethyleneglycol adipate or polyglycol adipate (PGA). 
As with PPG, the major use of this binder is in the 
polyurethane rubber industry.  Its main use in modern solid 
propellants is as a binder for high performance nitrate ester 
(nitroglycerin, butanetriol trinitrate) plasticized 
propellants.  These types of propellants are used in the U.S. 
Trident C-4 missile. 
3) Polycaprolactone (PCP). PCP is very similar to PGA, with 
the main use being the polyurethane rubber and sealants 
industries.  Its main use in solid propellants is as a binder 
for high performance nitrate ester plasticized propellants. 
4) Polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG is the polyether that is 
used as a binder in some of the most advanced high 
performance propellants.  Commonly referred to as NEPE 
(nitrate ester polyether) propellants, these propellants are 
used in the Trident II D-5 SLBM.  This binder has many uses 
in the plastics, pharmaceutical and food packaging 
industries, and of the millions of pounds of this material 
produced in the U.S. and world-wide, only a fraction of this 
production is devoted to military purposes. 
5) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This is one of the earlier 
binders used in solid propellant production and is still used 
in some countries for solid propellant production. 
Propellants with this binder are generally low in performance 
and not suitable for long and medium range ballistic missile 
production.  Its main use is in the vinyl plastics industry, 
namely plastic lawn furniture, plastics pipe, and other 
injection molded plastics. 
6)  Hydroxyl terminated poly ethers (HTPE), hydroxyl 
terminated poly esters (HTPS), and hydroxyl terminated poly 
acetylene (HTPA).  These binders are similar to HTPB, but 
with a higher oxygen content.  Polytetrahydrofuran 
polyethylene glycol (TPEG), like PEG, is a HTPE binder that 
is currently being used in several missile systems and has 
similar or improved properties compared to HTPB. 
Cross-linkers or Curatives 
Cross-linkers are important materials used to improve the 
bond between the oxidizer and binder in the solid propellant 
mixture.  Any difunctional or polyfunctional isocyanate can 
be used to cross-link or cure HTPB, PPG, PGA, PCP, or PEG 
binders.  However, the only cross-linker controlled by the 
MTCR is Isophorone Diisocyanate (IPDI).  IPDI is best when 
used with HTPB and not used with any of the other binder 
systems mentioned.  While there are many di- and 
polyfunctional isocyanates available, only 3 or 4 are of any 
importance to the solid propellant industry.  The major use 
of all isocyanates is the polyurethane rubber/polyurethane 
foam industries and the plastics industries.  Most are 
available worldwide.  Any isocyanate going to an entity 
connected to solid propellant production should be questioned. 
1) Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI). TDI is probably the most 
widely produced diisocyanate in terms of quantity in the 
world.  Millions of pounds go into the polyurethane 
rubber/foam industry and it is the primary material used by 
that industry.  Other lesser used isocyanates can be used to 
impart differing properties to the rubber or foam, but TDI 
remains the largest in terms of volume.  From a propellant 
standpoint, it is an excellent cross-linker for PGA, PCP, and 
PPG propellants, while IPDI is not suitable for these types 
of propellants.  TDI is also used extensively with HTPB when 
IPDI is not available and is often used by other countries 
for this very reason.  Quite acceptable HTPB propellant can 
be obtained with TDI. 
2) Hexamethylene Diisocyanate (HMDI or HDI). This material is 
often used in place of TDI where long propellant casting 
times are involved.  HMDI has a slower rate of reaction than 
TDI and thus delays the time at which the propellant begins 
to harden.  As with TDI, it has many more uses in other 
industries.  It is also an acceptable substitute for IPDI in 
HTPB propellants. 
3) Dimeryl Diisocyanate (DDI). DDI is often used with HTPB 
propellants because of its tendency to produce a propellant 
with a lower burning rate than an equivalent propellant with 
IPDI.  It is not used with any binder other than HTPB.  Its 
main use is in the rubber sealants industry with hydrocarbon 
rubbers such as the HTPB family. 
4) Isonate 143. This is a polyfunctional isocyanate based on 
TDI and is used in place of TDI to produce harder, higher 
modulus rubbers.  It can be used with HTPB or any of the 
polyester/polyether binders with hydroxyl functionality. 
Plasticizers are important materials in the solid propellant 
industry, and are used to improve the flexibility and 
processing characteristics of the propellant.  As with other 
materials used in propellants, they are used in the rubbers 
and plastics industries.  In general, they are usually esters 
of difunctional organic acids.  Another class of plasticizers 
called energetic plasticizers are used in high performance 
propellants.  One family of this type of plasticizer is the 
nitrate esters, which are organic esters of nitric acid. 
This family includes nitroglycerin, butanetriol trinitrate 
(BTTN), diethylene glycol dinitrate (DEGDN) and 
triethyleneglycol dinitrate (TEGDN), some of which are 
controlled by the MTCR.  The following are plasticizers which 
are not controlled by the MTCR: 
1) Dioctyl adipate or di-2-ethylhexyl adipate (DOA).  This 
plasticizer is commonly used with hydrocarbon binders such as 
HTPB, CTPB and PBAN.  It can also be used with PVC binders. 
As mentioned above, this material is most widely used in the 
plastics and rubber industries. 
2) Dioctyl sebacate or di-2-ethylhexyl sebacate (DOS).  This 
material is often used in place of DOA and is used with 
hydrocarbon binders such as HTPB, CTPB, and PBAN.  It is also 
widely used in the plastics and rubber industries. 
3) Dioctyl azelate or di-2-ethylhexyl azelate (DOZ).  This 
material is often used in place of DOA and is used with 
hydrocarbon binders such as HTPB, CTPB, and PBAN.  It is also 
widely used in the plastics and rubber industries. 
4) Dibutyl Phthalate (DPB).  This is the ester of a 
difunctional aromatic acid (phthalic acid) and is generally 
not soluble in hydrocarbon binders.  It is often used in 
small quantities in doublebase propellants but has been used 
in composite propellants.  Its primary use is as an insect 
repellant in clothing. 
Oxidizers are one of the most important constituents of solid 
rocket propellant and can be anywhere from 60 to 85 percent 
of the total propellant formulation.  By far the most 
important oxidizer for solid propellants is ammonium 
perchlorate (AP), which is controlled by the MTCR.  Other 
important oxidizing substances include ammonium dinitramide 
(ADN), hydrazinium nitroformate (HNF), and various nitramines 
such as cyclotetramethylene-tetranitramine (HMX), 
cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine (RDX), and 
hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane (HNIW) or CL-20.  These 
materials are all controlled by the MTCR.  Other oxidizers 
are available which are not controlled, but they are 
generally not suitable for ballistic missiles purposes 
because of their low performance.  Many of these materials 
can be used however in propellants for short range or 
battlefield rockets. These oxidizers are: 
1) Potassium perchlorate 
2) Potassium nitrate 
3) Ammonium nitrate 
4) Hydroxylammonium nitrate 
5) Hydroxylammonium perchlorate 
The fuels used in solid propellants are generally powdered 
metals, the most important being aluminum powder.  Most of 
the useful metal fuels are covered by the MTCR and include 
aluminum, beryllium, zirconium and magnesium.  The MTCR also 
covers alloys of these metals.  Boron is also controlled but 
is generally not used in composite solid propellant.  Another 
class of very high performance fuels is the metal hydrides. 
The reason for their high performance is that they combine 
the metal fuel with the highest performing fuel, hydrogen. 
The important metal hydrides from a solid propellant 
standpoint are as follows: 
1) Beryllium hydride 
2) Aluminum hydride 
3) Lithium aluminum hydride 
The use of these fuels in the past has been very limited 
because of the difficulty in handling them.  All are very 
strong reducing agents, which means that they will react 
rapidly with any source of oxygen or other oxidizing agent. 
All react rapidly with water to produce hydrogen which 
creates an explosion hazard.  They can be used very 
successfully in solid propellants if the proper precautions, 
such as protection from air and moisture, are taken. 
There are many other chemicals and classes of chemicals used 
in small amounts to improve service life, modify burning rate 
or ballistic properties, improve physical properties, etc., 
but the majority of these are already controlled by the MTCR. 
 Most of these materials are not a necessity for producing 
solid propellant or are used in such small amounts that it is 
impossible to track their procurement.  What has been 
attempted here is to list some of the more important 
constituent components of solid rocket propellants that are 
not controlled by the MTCR and which could be of interest to 
4.  (U)  Please slug any reporting on this or other MTCR 
issues for ISN/MTR. 

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