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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Rep. Duncan Hunter

20 June 1996 - House National Security Committee
Military Procurement Subcommittee and Military Research and Development Subcommittee
Clinton Administration's Response to the Threat Posed by Proliferation

I believe today's hearing is one of the most important hearings we will have this year. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the missiles that can carry them is clearly among the most significant challenges facing the United States in the postCold War world.

Even the Clinton Administration has recognized this fact. In November 1994, the President declared a "national emergency" because of "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons ('weapons of mass destruction') and the means of delivering such weapons." Last November, the President extended this national emergency, which remains in effect today.

Given this fact, I find it remarkable that the policies pursued by this Administration are doing more to foster dangerous proliferation than to stop it. What is lacking here is leadership -- the leadership role of the United States is critical to our efforts to stem the proliferation of dangerous weapons and technologies to potential adversaries.

The dangers posed by proliferation are especially pronounced in a world where sensitive information on weapons theory and design is more readily accessible to anyone with the capability to cruise the "information superhighway" of the Internet. This moming a member of my staff did a random search of the Internet for information on nuclear weapons. Just prior to this hearing, he handed me copies of the documents he downloaded from a site in Finland describing the nature of the fission and fusion processes, the basic principles of fission weapon design, and assembly techniques for achieving supercriticality. Now while I am not a physicist, and cannot judge the level of sophistication of all of this data, I nevertheless cannot help but think that this information might be useful to someone, somewhere, who may want to build a bomb and who may not otherwise have access to it.

This example only highlights part of the difficulties we face in controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. The past several years have witnessed a wholesale effort to dismantle the export control system that has been relatively successful in preventing the flow of sensitive weapons technologies abroad. The demise of COCOM has led to the creation of the "Wassenaar Arrangement," which allows the exports of sensitive technologies based on "national discretion." While it is true that today's world no longer resembles that of the Cold War, when our primary objective was to keep dangerous weapons and technologies out of the hands of the SovietUnion and its Warsaw Pact allies, the Administration's relaxation of export restrictions is absolutely mind-boggling.

As President Clinton' s first Director of Central Intelligence, Jim Woolsey, has said, "Yes, we have slain a large dragon, but we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes." I believe this Administration's policies are making the venom produced by those snakes more lethal.

I find it particularly troubling that in some cases, the Administration has decided to decontrol the export of items based upon a presumption that these technologies will be widely available at some point in the future -- not that there are available in other countries today, mind you, but that they will be available several years from now. This was a key justification for the decision to reduce or eliminate controls on supercomputer exports, which can be used to facilitate the development of nuclear weapons and missiles by dedicated proliferators. This "preemptive" decontrol creates a self- fulfilling prophesy that will make it harder for us to stem proliferation.

A simple review of this Administration's actions over the past several years might lead an independent observer to the conclusion that the Administration places U.S. business interests above national security interests.

For example, the Administration continues to consider allowing powerful U.S. supercomputers to be shipped to Russian nuclear weapons laboratories, including Arzamas-16, where much of the Soviet Union nuclear weapons were manufactured. Such an action flies in the face of common sense. Consequently, I have asked the General Accounting Office to review the implications of such an export.

Moreover, the Administration has decided to remove jet engine "hot section" technology and commercial communications satellites from the list of items controlled under the State Department's Munitions List and to transfer jurisdiction of these items to the Commerce Department's Commodity Control List, thereby relaxing restrictions on their export. According to the GAO, the Commerce Department in 1994 licensed for export "stealth coating" that could have been used to defeat our Patriot anti-missile system. Fortunately, after this case was publicized, that export license was suspended before the commodity could be shipped. We may not be so lucky the next time around.

Other examples come to mind. For instance, sensitive U.S. machine tools and production technologies have been transferred to China. Advanced U.S. communications technology with military applications has been transferred to a joint venture owned in part by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. In addition, this Administration allowed the sale of engines to China that could be used in long-range cruise missiles that could target our forces in that region of the world. In fact, the transfer to China of sensitive production technology for these engines was halted only after Mr. Weldon and I raised this issue. I hope our witnesses today will confirm that the Administration has no plans to allow any such transfers to proceed.These items are chilling examples of the shortcoming of nonproliferation regimes in controlling the proliferation of weapons and technologies that can threaten U.S. interests. It also provides ample justification for pursuing a robust ballistic missile defense program -- including the development and deployment of national missile defenses.

I hope our witnesses today will provide us with a sense of greater confidence that the decisions that have been made in recent years will not contribute to the proliferation threat we will face several years hence. I look forward to their testimony.

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