THE NUCLEAR ROUNDTABLE
Weapons of Mass Destruction and Cooperative Threat Reduction
This is the full text of the Senator's written remarks at the
Senator Richard G. Lugar
April 29, 1996
I am grateful for the invitation from the Stimson Center to address the
Having spent much of last week negotiating a resolution of ratification
to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was reported out of the Foreign
Relations Committee by a 13 to 5 vote last Thursday, my appearance today
before the Roundtable seems like a natural extension of my Committee
I want to speak to you today about the need for a national security
strategy that responds appropriately to the post-Cold War threat posed by
the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological
and nuclear -- and some legislative efforts that Senator Nunn, Senator
Domenici and I are considering for developing and promoting such a
Senator Nunn and I have held a series of hearing throughout 1995 and
1996 dealing with the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons and
materials of mass destruction. The results of those hearings may be
summarized in three basic propositions:
1. Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials, and
know-how are now more available to terrorists and rogue nations than at
any other time in our history;
2. Several nations and subnational groups are actively seeking a WMD
capability for potential use against the United States or its allies;
3. domestically, we here in the United States are simply not equipped
to manage the crisis posed by the threatened use of such weapons, or to
manage the consequences of such use against civilian populations.
Much has been written and said about the threats posed by weapons of
mass destruction, but relatively little strategic thinking has gone into
appropriate responses to such threats.
In my view, the potential costs of ignoring the threats and problems
associated with the spread of weapons of mass destruction are so enormous
that they demand a national mission on par with the Manhattan Project --
Manhattan II. We need to assemble the best minds, with massive resources,
to come up with, in a relatively short period of time, the kinds of
technical tools that will allow our policy makers to develop truly
credible responses and plans in the areas of nonproliferation and counter
Let me describe some of the thinking that has gone into our efforts to
craft a legislative response and strategy to the threats posed by the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We believe in the need for
an inter-disciplinary approach to the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction that will address the continuum of threat from Tomsk to
There are three basic elements or components to our legislative
approach. The first component stems from the recognition that much of the
current effort to deal with the threat crosscuts numerous federal
departments and agencies and highlights the need for the creation of a
national coordinator for non-proliferation and counter-proliferation
policy in order to provide a more strategic and coordinated vision and
The second component addresses the supply side of these materials,
weapons and know-how in the states of the former Soviet Union and
elsewhere. Building on our prior Nunn-Lugar/CTR experience, and
recognizing that it is far more effective, and less expensive, to prevent
WMD proliferation in the first place than to face such weapons on the
battlefield or the playground, our legislative approach includes
countermeasures intended to firm up border and export controls, measures
to promote and support counter-proliferation research and development, and
enhanced efforts to prevent the brain-drain of lethal know-how to rogue
states and terrorist groups.
The third and last major component stems from the recognition that we
cannot afford to rely on a policy of prevention and deterrence alone, and
therefore must prudently move forward with mechanisms to enhance
preparedness domestically for not only nuclear but chemical and biological
I would caution that we are in the preliminary stages of our
legislative thinking but let me describe briefly the legislative and
programmatic thrust of each component.
I. National Nonproliferation/Counter proliferation Coordinator. There
is a broad consensus that WMD proliferation is now, and will remain for
the foreseeable future, the top threat to U.S. national security
interests. Yet the American response to this proliferation threat remains
scattered and unfocused. The present non-proliferation and
counter-proliferation efforts include dozens of departments and agencies
that have responsibilities in one way or another to protect the United
States from such threats. This patchwork effort suffers from lack of
coordination, overlap, and duplication.
To complicate matters further, the threat of terrorism involving
weapons of mass destruction and the involvement of organized criminal
groups in the smuggling of WMD materials commands the attention of an even
broader array of U.S. governmental assets. The investigation of the Aum
Shinrikyo activities in the chemical weapons area by Senator Nunn and the
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations demonstrated how these issues can
fall through the cracks of the U.S. Government. The very nature of the WMD
threat demands not just the attention of our armed services and diplomatic
corps, but also our law enforcement community, our scientific community,
and our intelligence community.
In my view, our nation's nonproliferation effort is in need of a
strategic and coordinated government-wide plan.
In order to best address the crosscutting nature of the proliferation
challenge, we would propose to establish the position of the National
Nonproliferation Coordinator who will be charged with coordinating
policies and activities to combat the threat posed by WMD both
domestically and internationally. The Coordinator will review the budgets
of all agencies with programs in nonproliferation, counter proliferation,
and related areas of intelligence and law enforcement. Ideally, the
Coordinator will have transfer authority to best utilize our resources
against proliferation threats. The Office of the Coordinator will have a
staff which will be augmented with nonproliferation and counter
proliferation experts detailed from the Departments of State, Defense,
Justice, Energy, Commerce, the Intelligence Community, and such other
agencies as may contribute to the mission of the National Coordinator.
To support a comprehensive approach to nonproliferation, the National
Coordinator should chair a new Committee on Proliferation, Crime, and
Terrorism, to be established within the National Security Council. That
committee shall include the Secretaries of State, Defense, Justice,
Energy, the DCI, and other department and agency heads the President deems
necessary. This Committee within the National Security Council will serve
as the focal point for all government nonproliferation, counter
proliferation, law enforcement, intelligence, counter-terrorism, and other
efforts to combat threats to the United States posed by weapons of mass
This would codify statutorily the Administration's recent decision to
implement the Aspin-Brown Commission recommendation regarding an NSC
Committee on global crime issues, to supplement another newly created
Committee within the NSC -- i.e., the Committee on Foreign Intelligence.
Additionally, despite all the efforts of the government devoted to the
proliferation threat, there are significant gaps in the Government's
information on critical nonproliferation and counter proliferation issues.
This gap is particularly problematic with respect to the intersection of
key issues such as proliferation, terrorism and crime. For example, the
two-year investigation of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
revealed a paucity of information on international organized crime and its
impact on U.S. security. Additionally, the Subcommittee discovered that
our knowledge about Central Asia -- the Southern Tier of the former Soviet
Union and a potential hotbed of proliferation problems -- was scattered
and incomplete at best.
To help close such kinds of gaps in
information and policy expertise, the National Nonproliferation
Coordinator should establish a Center for Proliferation, Crime and
Terrorism Analysis which would conduct research to fill the void of
information on these and related issues.
II. The second component of our legislative effort will focus on
further constricting the supply side of the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction. Since the destruction of the Soviet Union, the
Nunn-Lugar or Cooperative Threat Reduction program and related initiatives
have sought to address the threat to U.S. security posed by the nuclear
weapons, scientists and materials of the former Soviet Union. The mission
to secure these nuclear assets, as well as their chemical and biological
equivalents, is unfinished.
In the new legislation we will seek to capitalize on the progress
achieved in dismantling nuclear weapons of the former Soviet states and in
preventing the flight of weapons scientists over the past five years and
to expand the core mission of the program so as to address strategically
the emerging WMD threats that compromise our domestic security. The
resources that will be required to implement programs proposed in the new
legislation are not intended to supplant, but rather to supplement,
current Nunn-Lugar funding levels.
1. Cooperative programs with the Russian Ministry of Atomic
Energy and the Ministry of Defense to improve the protection, control
and accounting of nuclear materials must be accelerated and expanded to
encompass all of the nuclear facilities that handle sensitive nuclear
materials and components. Presently there exists a window of opportunity
in which several additional labs and facilities appear willing to
cooperate in the lab-to-lab program. This expanded effort might even
include some facilities outside the "Nuclear Four" of the former Soviet
Union where significant quantities of nuclear materials and expertise
In addition to enhanced efforts to secure the weapons
and materials of mass destruction, we must recognize that the combination
of organized crime, porous borders, severe economic dislocation and
corruption in the states of the former Soviet Union has greatly increased
the risk that lethal materials of mass destruction as well as the know-how
for producing them can pass rather easily through the borders of the
former Soviet Union. While much of the risk still resides in the four
nuclear states of the former Soviet Union, there is also great risk in the
states of the Southern Tier and the Caucasus. This region shares common
borders with nations in the Middle East and poses a substantial smuggling
2. The security of nuclear materials during transportation between
nuclear facilities must receive greater attention. Transportation risks
will grow as more nuclear warheads are disassembled and their materials
are shipped to interim or permanent storage sites.
3. Greater programmatic emphasis needs to be placed on safeguarding
highly enriched uranium fuel used in Russian naval propulsion. Given the
possession by the Russian Navy of large quantities of HEU, we need to
accelerate and expand our programs with the Russian Navy to encompass
all unirradiated enriched uranium fuels used for ship propulsion,
including submarines, icebreakers, cruisers, and related training,
testing and research facilities.
4. We need to get on with the business of closing down plutonium
production facilities in Russia. Russia agreed to a U.S. proposal to
cease plutonium production for weapons but action has been stymied by
the fact that the three reactors in question also produce heat and
electricity. These reactors can be converted so that they can no longer
produce weapons-grade plutonium while permitting them to continue to
produce heat and electricity. Such core conversion projects can advance
a major U.S. nonproliferation objective to end the production of
plutonium for weapons. At minimum, we need to allocate funds for the
design, testing and safety analysis that must be completed before
implementation of such core conversion can begin.
5. In order to expand our transparency program efforts with the
Russians related to both warhead dismantlement as well as confirmation
of inventories of materials resulting from the dismantlement process, we
need to undertake new efforts to evaluate technologies and techniques to
verify that weapons are being dismantled and to verify the quantities of
nuclear materials from disassembled warheads.
6. And lastly, in the area of securing weapons and materials, it is
time to make a concerted effort at chemical and biological threat
reduction. Opportunities do exist to secure materials that can be used
to make chemical and biological weapons, and we need to determine the
feasibility and priority of moving beyond nuclear threat reduction and
beyond chemical-weapons demilitarization efforts to explore
possibilities for improving security for chemical and biological weapons
Although Nunn-Lugar programs have begun to offer training and equipment
to establish controls on borders and exports throughout the former Soviet
Union, much more needs to be done. Much of the training that is done by
the U.S. Customs Service will lapse this year. Moreover, while programs
designed to keep weapons scientists from being recruited by rogue states
or terrorist groups have met with some success, they address only part of
III. The third component of our draft legislation concerns Domestic
Preparedness for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. Our
hearings have demonstrated that the United States is woefully unprepared
for domestic terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
Although recent Presidential Decision Directives address the coordination
of both crisis and consequence management of a WMD incident, the Federal
Government has done too little to prepare for a nuclear threat or nuclear
detonation on American soil, and even less for a biological or chemical
threat or incident.
This is particularly true with regard to the training and equipping of
the local "first responders" -- the firemen, police, emergency management
teams, and medical personnel who will be on the front lines if deterrence
and prevention of such incidents fail. Several common-sense measures could
greatly improve our readiness to cope with a domestic incident involving
weapons of mass destruction.
Almost all of the expertise in defending against and acting in response
to such threats and their execution resides in the Department of Defense
which has worked to protect our armed forces against chemical and
biological attack. It is our belief that this expertise must be utilized
and can be utilized without infringing on DoD's major missions or our
1. The United States has no quick response team for chemical
or biological terrorism, as it does for nuclear emergencies -- that is,
NEST. We need to develop the CW and BW equivalents of NEST -- that is,
CW and BW terrorism response capabilities to support federal agency
responsibilities and the Federal Response Plan.
IV. Conclusion. In my view, it is time to go beyond a
recitation of the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction and to start developing an appropriate strategic, coordinated
response. We know what the threats and the problems are. We even have the
knowledge and expertise to deal constructively with these threats.
2. A review of exercises to test the preparedness of the federal
response to WMD terrorism has found serious deficiencies, particularly
with respect to full-field exercises and implementation of agency
responsibilities as set down in the Presidential Decision Directive. To
improve inter-agency coordination, it is imperative that the FBI and
FEMA initiate a program of exercises involving local and state
3. The Defense Department is equipped to counter CW and BW on the
battlefield. We need to have DoD task its chemical and biological
defense facilities and experts to train local and federal response
officials in CW and BW preparedness and to train such officials in
crisis and consequence management.
4. There is an urgent need for deployable equipment to assist early
responders to deal with chemical and biological agents.
The real question is whether the political will exists to develop and
implement a national security strategy that responds appropriately to the
post-Cold War threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass
That question will have to be answered in both Washington and Moscow,
and the likely responses are less than clear. Pre-election nationalistic
fervor is blinding Russian officials to cooperative threat reduction
programs that are surely in the Russian national security interest. In
Moscow, the outcome of the June presidential elections will help to shape
the answer. But even if Boris Yeltsin is reelected, the Russian side will
simply have to cease creating bottlenecks to the timely implementation of
the current threat reduction program.
And in Washington, the national security debate might be dominated once
again by ballistic missile defense -- hopefully not to the exclusion of
consideration of our first lines of defense against the threats posed by
weapons of mass destruction.
Opposition in the Congress to further cooperative threat reduction in
the nuclear field as well as to its extension to the biological and
chemical fields could be strong -- and, in my judgement, extremely
shortsighted. History will be unforgiving to us if the requisite political
will to deal with the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction emerges only after the first incident involving weapons
of mass destruction has occurred on American soil.
The Stimson Center, Press Release Senator Richard G.
Lugar, April 29, 1996, Washington, D.C.
The Nuclear Roundtable, with former Ambassador
to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock, April 3, 1996, Washington, D.C.
The Nuclear Roundtable with Dr. Ashton B. Carter,
Department of Defense, November 16, 1995, Washington, D.C.
The Nuclear Roundtable, US-Russian Relations
After the Duma Elections, with Alexander Yereskovsky, Embassy of the
Russian Federation, and Rodney Jones and Leonard Spector, Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, January 4, 1996, Washington, D.C.
House of Representatives. Prepared Testimony on
Cooperative Threat Reduction, Dr. Harold P. Smith, Jr., Asst.
Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, November 14, 1995.
Senate. Senator Sam Nunn. Statement at the
Beginning of Hearings on Global Proliferation of Weapons of Mass
Destruction Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear Materials, Subcommittee on
Investigations, March 13, 1996
Moscow Nuclear Safety
and Security Summit Declaration, April 20, 1996, Moscow, Russia
The Nuclear Roundtable, with Robert Bell, National
Security Council, March 18, 1995, Washington, D.C.
Representatives. Testimony of Michael Krepon, President, Henry L. Stimson
Center, For Hearings on Ballistic Missile Defense, National Security
Committee, 14 March 1995.
Stimson Issue Brief: "Bipartisian
Progress" ACDA, Nunn-Lugar and Ballistic Missile Defense
Funding, February 26, 1996
US Congressional statements on ballistic missile defense:
in the House
and in the Senate
/ Cooperative Threat Reduction Program: US-Russian cooperation in
dismantling Cold War nuclear weapons stockpile.
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