Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have been asked to appear before this subcommittee to address the administration's claims that no nuclear missiles are targeted against the United States. My focus is not on the technical questions of those claims, but on public policy.
President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a strategic missile de-targeting agreement in early 1994. The stated purpose of the agreement was to protect the United States and Russia from an accidental or unauthorized nuclear strike by the other.
The administration quickly portrayed the agreement as something much different. Not only did the agreement protect the American people from an accidental Russian missile launch; we were soon told that the threat of Russian nuclear missiles-indeed, of any nuclear missiles-had been eliminated.
Between the signing of the de-targeting agreement and the end of 1996, President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, National Security Advisor (and current Director of Central Intelligence-designate) Anthony Lake, and Deputy National Security Advisor (now National Security Advisor) Sandy Berger, stated publicly-on no fewer than 147 occasions-that no Russian nuclear missiles are targeted on the United States and its people.
This is a very serious claim. Yet technical experts say that the claim is impossible to make truthfully, because the de-targeting agreement is inherently impossible to verify. Furthermore, technical experts say that even if Russian strategic missiles are indeed de-targeted, they can be re-targeted easily in a matter of minutes if not less. The degree of civilian control of Russia's strategic forces is also a matter of debate here, as it is in the Russian Federation. I have worked with Russian lawmakers and officials in efforts to promote checks and balances, and have found that they do not exist institutionally.
Of the administration's 147 claims, the President and Vice President have stated unequivocally, at least 33 times, that no nuclear missiles at all are targeted against the United States. The implication is that the People's Republic of China has de-targeted its strategic forces from the U.S., even though Beijing rejected the President's offer for a de-targeting agreement.
An example of the claims is President Clinton's speech in Des Moines, Iowa, on 20 October 1995:
Mr. Clinton said in a 2 February 1996 speech in Salem, New Hampshire:
Who are these "others"? The President has not told us, even though he pressed on with his claims, informing the citizens of Toledo, Ohio, on 26 August 1996:
Two days later, Vice President Gore told the Democratic National Convention:
These are not simply campaign slogans, but clear statements of policy. They recklessly contribute to a profound sense of complacency that in the post-Cold War world, the American people are free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. When one places such quotes in the context of developments and statements emanating from Russia and China, it becomes clear that the public has been terribly misled.
Official U.S. Statements in the Context of Strategic Developments in the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China
The administration's consistently repeated claims lead to the public impression that the nuclear threat is gone. The logical conclusion is that the need to counter such a threat-by technology controls, leveraging of U.S. aid and multilateral loans, strategic modernization, or ballistic missile defense-no longer exists. Thus the administration can justify its policies that have allowed supercomputers to be exported to Russian and Chinese entities that conduct nuclear weapons research and development, sent billions of tax dollars to Russian entities directly involved with missile and warhead development and production, effectively terminated key capabilities for modernization of the American strategic deterrent, and ensured that there will be no effective national defense against incoming ballistic missiles.
By juxtaposing administration claims with statements and actions in Russia and China, the following chronology attempts to add context to the idea that no Russian or other nuclear missiles are aimed at the United States. The chronology is not exhaustive, but is intended merely as an illustration of the disconnect between official policy and reality.
Mr. Yeltsin speaks about the incident with the Russian press, but the White House is silent.
3 October 1996: At General Staff headquarters, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin personally oversees a complicated and expensive test involving the "nuclear briefcase" in which a Topol-M ICBM, a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and two air-launched cruise missiles aboard strategic bombers are launched.
6 October 1996: President Clinton says in a debate with Senator Bob Dole, "There are no nuclear missiles pointed at the children of the United States tonight and have not been in our administration for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age."
Cohen decried administration's "cloak of secrecy"
In 1994, Senator William Cohen voiced concern over the administration's silence about Russia's revised military doctrine, which increases reliance on nuclear weapons. He introduced an amendment "to require the President to submit a report on the revised Russian military doctrine and Russian military operations outside Russia's border." The initiative became law, and the President issued the first report later that year. But as Senator Cohen complained in 21 September 1995 remarks on the Senate floor,
"In any case-no need to speculate about this-the decision to classify the report from cover to cover has prevented Congress from conducting a complete public debate about Russian actions and the administration's policy toward Russia, and it has prevented the American people from becoming fully informed on these matters."
The same can be said about fully informing the public on matters related to ballistic missile threats, and on the need to defend ourselves against them. Apart from some vague and scanty generalities, the administration has been virtually silent about Russia's increased reliance on nuclear weapons and its strategic modernization initiatives, and has downplayed concerns that political and institutional uncertainties in Russia might be deteriorating the command and control of strategic forces. Not once in any of his 130 statements did the Commander-in-Chief comment on the fact that Russia (and China) has been modernizing its strategic arsenal.
Russian Strategic Modernization
As it has in most sectors of society, economic hardship has taken its toll on Russia's strategic modernization program. Nevertheless, with its increased reliance on weapons of mass destruction, Moscow is investing what it can in these expensive programs. They include: the new Topol-M ICBM, the refitting of all Typhoon submarines to launch an upgraded submarine-launched ballistic missile, construction of the first of the Boreas class of ballistic missile submarines to succeed the Typhoon, development of a new air-launched cruise missile, a new multi-role strategic bomber, new generations of nuclear warheads, including miniaturized warheads; new generations of chemical weapons, including the "Novichok" class of binary nerve agents; and an active biological weapons program.
In my own research, apart from the chemical and biological weapons programs, I have found the Russian government, the Ministry of Atomic Energy, the Strategic Rocket Forces, and the Military Space Forces to be far more forthcoming about their missile and nuclear warhead modernization initiatives than has the United States government and our own armed forces. Russian authorities even take the trouble to announce their developments, translate them into English, and place them on the Internet for the world to see.
Our own government, which is so open in so many other areas, appears deliberately not informing the public, as then-Senator Cohen alleged, in order to cover up for its own misguided policies. The administration did not publicly acknowledge the clandestine Novichok nerve agent program until responding to a leak in February, 1997-more than three years after it was revealed in the Russian press. Significantly, when Mr. Cohen's predecessor, William Perry, visited Severodvinsk last October to view the dismantling of an obsolete Yankee-class submarine with U.S. aid, he was silent about the new attack submarine and ballistic missile submarine being built in the very same port. The administration seems to be abusing secrecy to limit criticism of, and thereby justify, the following policies:
Perhaps, as our new Secretary of Defense, Mr. Cohen will take remedial action and make public a detailed accounting of the strategic missile programs and the nuclear warfare doctrines of Russia and China so this public debate can proceed.
Are U.S. tax dollars being used to facilitate Russia's strategic modernization?
The administration's assurances that no nuclear missiles are targeting the United States have many policy implications. In addition to our own defense considerations, which are beyond my purview, are foreign policy considerations that Congress can address simply by exercising its oversight responsibilities. They come under the general heading, "Are U.S. tax dollars being used to facilitate Russia's strategic modernization program?"
Congress can do much to explore this question in the course of appropriating and authorizing funds. It striking that, despite Russia's ongoing economic crisis and decrepit military condition, Moscow can continue to develop new generations of weapons of mass destruction designed for war-fighting far beyond its neighbors' borders. This indicates where ultimate priorities lay under Boris Yeltsin and Viktor Chernomyrdin. No amount of wishful thinking can alter the fact that the United States remains the main intended target of Russian strategic forces-this more than half a decade and billions of dollars after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Areas Congress might explore include:
Since 1994, the General Accounting Office (GAO) has raised the possibility U.S. CTR assistance inadvertently helps Russian military modernization. A 1995 GAO report states, "parent companies [designated for U.S.-funded conversion aid] would still produce some defense equipment . . . raising the possibility that U.S. aid could benefit the parent defense companies if safeguards are not put in place."
The Commerce Department has sought to attract American investment and technology to Russian military firms as part of the defense conversion program, even though some of those same firms would remain producers of systems for strategic weapons. A Commerce Department bulletin describes some of the Russian firms. One is "a major producer of electronic components for space and military use." Another is "responsible for design and development of land-based, road-mobile solid-propellant missiles." A third candidate for U.S. aid and investment is "a leading developer of . . . sea- and land-based cruise missile systems, and intercontinental ballistic missile systems." Others include "a leading center for the design of launchers and ground support equipment for missiles and aircraft," "a leader in the development and production of electronic control systems for missile complexes," and "a developer of submarine-launched ballistic missiles."
This represents the cream of the crop of Russia's military industry. None intends to go out of the military business. Interviews with Commerce Department officials reveal that they know that the enterprises, as stated in the directory, will continue to develop and manufacture high-tech weapons. In their view, if U.S. "conversion" aid helps stop some plants from manufacturing some arms, the money is well-spent. But General Accounting Office (GAO) investigations found that almost none of the aid is shutting down active production lines, and that some is actually helping to re-open dormant lines. The GAO also raised concerns that some U.S. aid is actually paying the salaries of individual scientists who continue to develop new weapons of mass destruction.
One of the reasons there is not a larger consensus for immediate deployment of an effective, national defense against incoming ballistic missiles is that the public and many of its elected representatives have not been informed about the threat. For three years, the President, Vice President, National Security Advisor, and CIA Director-designate, among others, have subjected the public to a steady drumbeat of baseless claims that the American people need no longer worry about being incinerated by Russia's vast strategic nuclear arsenal.
President Yeltsin openly explained to the Russian people, immediately after the fact, that thanks to a communications glitch that mis-identified a Norwegian research rocket, he had come close to commencing a procedure to authorize a nuclear strike against the United States. Yet appearing on network television within 24 hours of that near catastrophe, President Clinton said nothing about it, assuring the public yet again that no Russian missiles threatened America. It is time our leaders started telling the truth about continued nuclear dangers so that the public and Congress can conduct informed, open debates on the nature of the problem and provide for a common defense.