Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

The Proliferation Primer
International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee
United States Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
A Majority Report - January 1998

Conclusion

A multifaceted, coordinated approach is necessary to combat proliferation. Diplomacy, arms control and ex-port controls, unilateral incentives and disincentives, and counterproliferation efforts such as interdiction must all be used if the battle against proliferation is to be success-ful. As Winston Churchill once observed, though, in history "the terrible ifs accumulate."

The Clinton Administration's nonproliferation efforts have been inadequate. A Washington Post editorial pointed out on October 23, 1997, "[ t] he subject is the current and possible future possession of weapons of mass destruction by an array of nations, including some deeply hostile to the United States and others in a position to wreak much harm. The administration is not showing a sure or steady hand in dealing with these su-premely important matters." The Clinton Administration has not been willing to take the tough actions necessary to back up the rhetoric in executive or-ders and other statements. And, by relaxing dual- use export con-trols the Administration has allowed the United States to join the ranks of the proliferators.

Though many nations that are key suppliers have joined or agreed to abide by regimes such as the MTCR, Australia Group, and Nuclear Suppliers Group, these ex-port control regimes are not enough. The regimes – which impose no sanctions for violations, and which only the United States supports with statutes to punish violators – can only slow the spread of WMD and ballistic missile technology. As the Clinton Administration's former As-sistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, Ashton Carter, observed, "[ e] xport controls alone cannot prevent proliferation," because determined leaders such as Saddam Hussein can "home grow their weapons of mass destruction or get them from other countries."

Even regimes requiring on- site inspections for verifi-cation are insufficient by themselves to eradicate the prob-lem. Despite six years of intrusive U. N. inspections which have destroyed much of Iraq's weapons of mass destruc-tion and ballistic missile programs, Saddam Hussein re-tains the ability to reconstitute these capabilities quickly.

And Saddam Hussein's achievements are not isolated examples. Consider the nations that, under the aegis of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty of 1968, have made substantial progress toward ac-quiring nuclear weapons. More-over, despite signing the Biologi-cal Weapons Convention (BWC), Russia and Iraq have each admitted to maintaining biological weapons programs, while other nations, like China, are widely believed to have done so as well. In its annual report to Congress for 1996, the U. S. Arms Control and Disarma-ment Agency said, "… there are strong indications that China probably maintains its offensive [biological weapons] program. The United States, therefore, believes that in the years after its accession to the BWC, China was not in compliance with its BWC obligations and that it is highly probable that it remains noncompliant with these obligations." Problems are not automatically solved by arms control agreements or multilateral export control regimes.

Some believe proliferation is best contained by dis-cussions with China and Russia. But proliferation con-tinues, encouraged by the traditional allies of rogue re-gimes and emerging rogue- to- rogue supply systems. Criminal activity, especially by countries in political tur-moil such as Russia, also facilitates proliferation. Against such activity, as the Clinton Administration's first Direc-tor of Central Intelligence, James Woolsey, has observed, "[ t] here is no possibility for diplomacy, demarches, hotlines or summits. These tools have no meaning to groups whose business is the criminal exploitation of in-dividuals and even governments through threats, intimi-dation, and murder." Proliferation is exacerbated, too, by the natural flow of information as the formerly ob-scure art of missile- making, for example, becomes increas-ingly familiar.


The Clinton Administration has not been willing to take the tough actions necessary to back up the rhetoric in executive orders and other statements. And, by relaxing dual- use export controls the Administration has allowed the United States to join the ranks of the proliferators.


Although there are many ways to deliver weapons of mass destruction against the United States, that roughly two dozen countries have or are working to develop bal-listic missiles – and that the trend is toward longer ranges – indicates these platforms are the delivery vehicle of choice.

The Subcommittee's first witness in 1997, Dr. Walter B. Slocombe, Clinton Administration Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said, "… I and the administration are quite willing to acknowledge that if we saw a rogue State, a potential proliferant, beginning to develop a long-range ICBM capable of reaching the United States, we would have to give very, very serious attention to deploy-ing a limited national missile defense so as to be able to protect against that threat…." This confirms that the Administration considers retaliatory threats inadequate to protect the United States from long- range ballistic missiles.

Even though we must do all we can to deter the use by others of long- range missiles, "… against long- range missile threats, missile defenses are a necessary part of new deterrent strategies," as the Senate observed in the START II Resolution of Ratification.

On October 18, 1994, President Clinton said in a press conference, "[ t] here is nothing more important to our security and to the world's stability than preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles." As recently as December 16, 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the proliferation threat "the most overriding security interest of our time."

Some nations like Iran make no secret of their desire for ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States armed with weapons of mass destruction. This vulner-ability must end. Missile defense, along with the other approaches already discussed, is integral to reducing the proliferation threat to America. It is time for the Admin-istration to announce that America will no longer be en-dangered by ballistic missile- delivered destruction from rogue states. The time for debating whether to deploy a national missile defense is over.



[Back]

[Index]

[Next]
The Proliferation Primer
International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee
United States Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
A Majority Report - January 1998



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list


Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'