Text of Transmittal Letter

The Honorable Strom Thurmond
Chairman, Armed Services Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-4001

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Pursuant to the requirement set out in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (section 1228), I directed the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to prepare a review and assessment of the Cuban threat to United States national security. In preparing this assessment, DIA coordinated with the National Intelligence Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Intelligence and Research Bureau at the State Department. My office coordinated with the Joint Staff, the United States Southern Command, the National Security Council, and the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs at the Department of State.

The assessment looks specifically at Cuban military capabilities and the threat to national security that may be posed by Cuba. In reviewing the threat, the assessment addresses unconventional threats, such as the potential for the encouragement of mass migration and attacks on citizens or residents of the United States while engaged in peaceful protests in international waters or airspace. The intelligence community also looked into the potential for Cuban development of chemical and biological weapons and reviewed possible internal strife in Cuba that could involve citizens or residents of the United States or the armed services of the United States.

While the assessment notes that the direct conventional threat by the Cuban military has decreased, I remain concerned about the use of Cuba as a base for intelligence activities directed against the United States, the potential threat that Cuba may pose to neighboring islands, Castro's continued dictatorship that represses the Cuban people's desire for political and economic freedom, and the potential instability that could accompany the end of his regime depending on the circumstances under which Castro departs. Although the report assesses as unlikely the near-term risk of attacks on United States citizens or residents engaged in peaceful protests in international waters or airspace, Cuban authorities have miscalculated in the past and have not expressed remorse at their killing of four peaceful protesters in February 1996. Finally, I remain concerned about Cuba's potential to develop and produce biological agents, given its biotechnology infrastructure, as well as the environmental health risks posed to the United States by potential accidents at the Juragua nuclear power facility.

The Department of Defense remains vigilant to the concerns posed by Castro's Cuba. I have reviewed our contingency plans and they are appropriate for the level and nature of the Cuban threat to U.S. national security. We will continue to monitor developments in all these areas and will continue to update our intelligence and threat assessments in response to developing situations.



William S. Cohen

Honorable Carl Levin
Ranking Democrat