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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and U.S. Strategy
Sam Nunn Policy Forum
April 28, 1997 University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Senator Nunn, thank you very much. As Senator Nunn
has indicated, he and I have worked for many years together, along
with Senator Lugar. The two of these gentlemen I feel are perhaps the
most courageous and visionary to have served in the Senate. They were
largely responsible, of course, for adopting the so-called Nunn/Lugar
I'll comment on that later during the course of the morning, but I've
had occasion to meet with a number of Russian counterparts, and as we
go through various translations of the communications that we're
having, the two words they are able to articulate very clearly, they
say "Nunn/Lugar, Nunn/Lugar." So they know exactly what that means,
and that means the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act that these two
gentlemen were indispensable in shepherding through the United States
It was Nunn/Lugar I that dealt with the reduction of nuclear weapons
between the United States and the Soviet Union in terms of trying to
come to grips with how we helped the Russians dismantle hundreds of
their nuclear weapons, and also helped them with their destruction of
chemical weapons. But they, of course, have looked beyond simply that
particular relationship, which is very important, but also looking to
the future that we face as far as the rise of terrorism -- both
international and domestic -- and finding ways in which the Department
of Defense can become involved in helping local states and local
agencies to deal with the threat of terrorism which is quite likely to
increase in the coming years.
It's a pleasure for me to be here. Both Senator Nunn and Senator Lugar
are close friends, and I look forward to, I think, a very productive
seminar. Once again demonstrating that although Senator Nunn has left
public service in the Senate, he has not left public service as far as
the nation is concerned.
It's a pleasure for me to be here, Sam.
SENATOR NUNN: Thank you very much, Bill.
...Let me ask if there are any questions for Secretary of Defense
Q: The dual containment policy in Iran and Iraq, do you think that's
conducive to regional stability in that region? And do you think (it)
can cause further terrorism in the United States? That type of
containment policy in the Middle East.
A: I think Secretary Albright articulated our policy as far as dealing
with Iraq, that it's clear that we have been unable to strike any kind
of a productive relationship with Saddam Hussein, and as soon as
Saddam Hussein is no longer the head of that government, that there's
(a) new regime that follows him, that we will look forward to finding
ways in which we could engage them in a much more productive fashion,
particularly after they comply with all of the UN sanctions. There's
an eagerness on our part to do that. But I think as long as he remains
in office as the head of that state, it's unlikely that we could have
anything but the current policy in place, with very little prospects
for relief.
With respect to Iran, I think Iran continues to present a long-term
threat to the region. They are acquiring and have acquired weapons of
mass destruction, substantial levels of chemicals and we believe
biological weapons as well. They have made an effort to acquire
nuclear capability. So I think that our policy of dual containment is
the right one, and we are going to encourage our allies to support
that one.
Q: What does it mean that Clinton (inaudible) proliferation?
A: To the extent that we see the level of communication available
today, the Internet and other types of interwoven communicative skills
and abilities, we're going to see information continue to spread as to
how these weapons can be, in fact, manufactured in a home-grown
laboratory, as such. So it's a serious problem as far as living in the
Information Age that people who are acquiring this kind of information
will not act responsibly, but rather act in a terrorist type of
We've seen by way of example of the World Trade Center the
international aspects of international terrorism coming to our home
territory. We've also seen domestic terrorism with the Oklahoma
bombing. So it's a real threat that's here today. It's likely to
intensify in the years to come as more and more groups have access to
this kind of information and the ability to produce them.
Q: How prepared is the U.S. Government to deal with (inaudible)?
A: I think we have to really intensify our efforts. That's the reason
for the Nunn/Lugar II program. That's the reason why it's a local
responsibility, as such, but the Department of Defense is going to be
taking the lead as far as supervising the interagency working groups,
and to make the assessments as to what needs to be done. So we're
going to identify those 120 cities and work with them very closely to
make sure that they can prepare themselves for what is likely to be a
threat well into the future.
Q: Let me ask you specifically about last week's scare here in
Washington, and what we might have learned from how prepared we are to
deal with that (inaudible), at B'nai Brith.
A: Well, it points out the nature of the threat. It turned out to be a
false threat under the circumstances. But as we've learned in the
intelligence community, we had something called -- and we have James
Woolsey here to perhaps even address this question about phantom
moles. The mere fear that there is a mole within an agency can set off
a chain reaction and a hunt for that particular mole which can
paralyze the agency for weeks and months and years even, in a search.
The same thing is true about just the false scare of a threat of using
some kind of a chemical weapon or a biological one. There are some
reports, for example, that some countries have been trying to
construct something like an Ebola Virus, and that would be a very
dangerous phenomenon, to say the least. Alvin Toeffler has written
about this in terms of some scientists in their laboratories trying to
devise certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic-specific so
that they could just eliminate certain ethnic groups and races; and
others are designing some sort of engineering, some sort of insects
that can destroy specific crops. Others are engaging even in an
eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off
earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic
So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work
finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's
real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and
that's why this is so important.
Q: What is response to (inaudible)?
A: We hope we will have access to the defector. In fact I was recently
in South Korea and talked with various officials in South Korea. As
soon as they complete their own interrogation of this defector, we
will have access to that individual. But much of what he has said to
date is reflected in the writings that he prepared last year. This is
prior to his defection. One would not expect a potential defector to
be writing about anything other than what the official doctrine or
dogma is of the North Korean government at that time. He is saying
essentially what we have known for a long, long time. Namely, that
North Korea poses a very serious threat against South Korea, and
potentially even Japan, by virtue of having the fourth largest army in
the world, by having 600,000 or more troops poised within 100
kilometers of Seoul, of possessing many SCUD missiles, also the
potential of chemically armed warheads, the attempt to acquire nuclear
weapons. So we know they have this potential, and the question really
is going to be what's in their hearts and minds at this point? Do they
intend to try to launch such an attack in the immediate, foreseeable
future? That, we can only speculate about, but that's the reason why
we are so well prepared to defend against such an attack to deter it
and to send a message that it would be absolutely an act of suicide
for the North Koreans to launch an attack. They could do great damage
in the short run, but they would be devastated in response. So we're
hoping we can find ways to bring them to the bargaining table -- the
Party of Four Talks -- and see if we can't put them on a path toward
peace instead of threatening any kind of devastating attack upon the
Q: ...a little bit about the situation in (inaudible)?
A: I really don't have much more information than has been in the
press at this point. The Department has not been called upon to act in
this regard just yet, so I'm not at liberty to give you any more
information than you already have.

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