Testimony of the Honorable Walter B. Slocombe
To the House Armed Services Committee
Hearing on National Missile Defense
October 13, 1999
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I welcome the opportunity to discuss with you our planning for a National Missile Defense (NMD) system and the implications of these plans for the ABM Treaty.
As you know for several years, it has been the policy of the United States to be in a position, technologically to make a decision, by 2000, to deploy an effective National Missile Defense system capable of defending the territory of all 50 of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack from rogue states, if the development of the threat makes such a deployment appropriate.
Recent developments in foreign ballistic missile programs, most immediately, but by no means limited only to, North Korea, make it clear that the threat is growing rapidly. At the same time, our NMD development program is proceeding successfully, especially considering the accelerated timetable we are on, as highlighted by the October 2 intercept by an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) of a target launched by a modified Minuteman missile.
While the President has not made a decision on whether to proceed with deployment of a national missile defense -- that decision will not be made until next summer at the earliest -- we are taking prudent steps both in technology and in diplomacy to facilitate deployment in the event that next year the President decides to proceed.
Of course, our programs are proceeding against the backdrop of the ABM Treaty. This Administration, like all of its predecessors since President Nixon signed the Treaty in 1972, is committed by both law and policy to the ABM Treaty. We regard the Treaty as a critical element in sustaining strategic stability. It is our policy, our desire, and our expectation that our limited NMD program can proceed without destroying the ABM Treaty. We seek an outcome that will both permit the NMD deployment needed to defend against rogue states and preserve the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability. Nevertheless, we will not permit any other country to have a veto on actions that may be needed for the defense of our nation. We have begun discussions with the Russians to that end.
There are three broad variables that are shaping the planning for an NMD system: (1) the threat of attack, (2) our technological capability and the cost of deployment, and (3) arms control. I will address each in turn.
Rogue State Ballistic Missile Threat
We have long geared our NMD program to the emerging danger posed by rogue states such as North Korea and Iran which are likely to be able to field intercontinental range missiles that could deliver chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons against the territory of the United States.
With respect to these emerging rogue state threats, the new NIE, released last month, has reached the following judgment: ìWe project that during the next 15 years the United States most likely will face ICBM threats fromÖNorth Korea, probably from Iran, and possibly from Iraq.
On August 31, 1998, North Korea attempted to launch a satellite on a Taepo Dong (TD) 1 missile. That launch made it clear that North Korea has made considerable progress in developing long-range missile capabilities, including some important aspects of ICBM development, such as multiple stage separation. While the U.S. Intelligence Community expected a TD-1 launch for some time, it did not anticipate that the missile would have a third stage, or that it would be used to attempt to place a satellite in orbit.
Over the past year, the Administration has sustained a major diplomatic effort to prevent the test of a follow-on system, the Taepo Dong-2, which would pose a still greater threat to the United States. North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on flight tests of long range missiles during further discussions. However, that action, while welcome, does not mean a halt to the North Korean program (which continues to progress through steps other than flight tests), much less an end to the potential threat from North Korea. Accordingly, we continue to base our NMD efforts on the assessment, reflected in the NIE, that North Korea probably will test the TD-2 this year.
The situation with regard to Iranian ICBM development also warrants careful scrutiny. Iran has tested the Shahab 3 with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers and, Iran could test an ICBM that could deliver a several hundred kilogram payload to parts of the U.S. in the latter half of the next decade, using Russian or other foreign technology and assistance. They could also pursue a TD-type ICBM patterned after the TD-1 or TD-2, possibly with North Korean assistance, in the next few years.
Lastly, the NIE judges that Iraq, if freed from sanctions and coalition action against full revival of its WMD programs, could test an ICBM that could deliver a several-hundred kilogram payload to the United States by the end of the next decade, depending on the level of foreign assistance. If Iraq could buy a TD-2 from North Korea, it could have a launch capability within months of the purchase.
U.S. Response to the Rogue State Threat:
In order to protect ourselves from these and other ballistic missile threats, we seek to prevent and reduce the threat through every available means: export control measures, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR); arms reduction agreements, such as START I and II, international anti-proliferation arrangement, such as the NPT; and cooperative non-proliferation efforts, such as the Cooperative Threat Reduction program. We also deter the threat by maintaining powerful nuclear and conventional forces. Those who would threaten America, or its allies, should have no doubt: any attack on us would meet an overwhelming response.
In addition to these preventative measures defenses can play an important role in strengthening and complimenting our overall deterrence policy. At the core of deterrence is convincing an adversary that the assured, negative consequences of an action greatly outweigh any potential, positive results of that action. There are two sides to this equation. The threat of nuclear retaliation drives home that the negative consequences would be huge. But it is also valuable for deterrence to reduce the chance that an attack would succeed in the first place. Missile defenses, for their part, can convince an adversary that there is little or no chance of accomplishing the intended political or military objectives of an attack, or threat of an attack. Missile defenses further complement deterrence by enhancing the US ability to fulfill its global security commitments to allies and friends. Defenses render less credible any possible attempts by an adversary to threaten or coerce the United States with ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction. They thoroughly re-infuse the commitment of the United States to support our allies and friends ñ from NATO to Israel to the Persian Gulf to northeast Asia ñ in the event they face a threat from a rogue state.
In 1996, in recognition of the growing threat, our policy shifted from a pursuit of a technology readiness program whose goal was to develop the technology of NMD system elements, to a deployment readiness program that has sought to aggressively develop the components of an integrated system that could be deployed a few years into the next decade.
In so doing, we deliberately set the stage to make an NMD deployment decision in the year 2000 in order to be able to deploy a system as early as 2003, if the threat warranted. We were also prepared, if the President decided in 2000 not to deploy, to continue to refine our proposed NMD system so that it would be even more capable against future threats.
In January of this year, Secretary Cohen assessed that the pace of a development program designed to begin an initial NMD deployment by the year 2003 was simply too aggressive and too high risk to succeed. He did not want to ìrush to failureîóa phrase coined in a recent Defense Science Board study of our BMD programs. He put the program on a still-aggressive, but much more feasible pace to reach initial operation of a system in 2005/6.
I should emphasize that from a technology and development standpoint, our NMD development is still very ambitious, but it should be attainable. The magnitude of the technical challenges is greatóthe program remains risky but we accept this risk given the serious consequences of the emerging rogue missile threat to the United States. We are taking a major acquisition program ñ which would normally require 10 years or more to complete ñ and collapsing that into about 6 years.
That said, the technological experts at the Department of Defense have a sound basis for thinking the accelerated timetable is warranted and achievable. No new technology is required for the proposed NMD system. We are in the process of taking technologies we have already developed, integrating them into a system, and demonstrating their ability to perform the mission. The NMD program actually has a very mature technology base from which to build an operationally effective system.
Also in January, the President added $6.6 billion to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organizationís (BMDO) 6-year budget, to raise funding levels for NMD to $10.5 billion through fiscal year 2005. In our ongoing budget preparation for FY 01-05, we are examining what adjustments are necessary to deploy the initial architecture. If that requires additional funding, the budget for 2001 and the out-years will be adjusted accordingly.
With regard to the NMD program itself, over the past year and a half we have made a number of major decisions and passed a number of significant milestones.
One of the most challenging technological barriers that we must overcome is perfecting the NMD Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The EKV will be carried by ground-based interceptor missiles and is equipped with two infrared sensors, a visible light sensor, and a small propulsion system. It has had two successful ìsensor flybyî tests, one conducted in June 1997 and another in January 1998. Raytheon was selected as the EKV prime contractor in December 1998 (with Boeing as back up).
The first intercept flight testóa major success involving a ìhit-to-kill,î body-to-body impactótook place earlier this month. The second intercept test is scheduled for next January.
An integrated system test of all NMD components is scheduled for next May. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Defense is scheduled to conduct a Deployment Readiness Review (DRR), to examine the technological status of the NMD program and its costs ñ as well as progress on relevant arms control issues. After receiving the results of that review, the Secretary of Defense will make a recommendation to the President regarding whether or not to deploy the NMD system. How well we are able, through the scheduled tests, to establish the technical readiness for NMD deployment will be a major factor in the Presidentís deployment decision next summer, which will also consider the threat to the United States, and the status of arms reduction efforts.
As I said earlier, no deployment decision has yet been made: that will depend on the technological readiness of the system at the DRR in June 2000, the projected cost, the review of the threat as projected then (which we do not expect to change), and the substantial policy issues presented by a deployment decision. The President, based on the recommendation of his national security team, has decided on an architecture ñ for planning purposes now -- for a system. The deployment, if approved, will proceed in phases. As an immediate goal to meet early threats, we would deploy by 2005/6 an initial NMD system that would be optimized for the most immediate threat ñ that from North Korea. It would be capable of defending all 50 states against a launch of a few tens of warheads accompanied by simple penetration aids. For planning purposes, this NMD architecture would include:
Such a system would also provide a 50-state defense against limited attack (a few warheads with simple penetration aids) launched from the Middle East. In order to achieve an initial operational capability in 2005, construction of this system would need to begin in 2001, following a decision to proceed during the summer of next year.
The President also identified as a longer-term goal to deploy (possibly in further phases), by the 2010/ 2011 time-frame, a limited NMD system with the capability to negate up to a few tens of ICBM warheads with complex penetration aids launched from either North Korea or the Middle East. The system architecture would include an additional interceptor site, additional interceptors, and several more X-Band radars, and the SBIRS-Low satellite constellation to provide an important tool in distinguishing enemy warheads from sophisticated penetration aids.
Engaging Russia on NMD Deployment Planning and the ABM Treaty
President Clinton is committed both to protecting the American people from rogue-state ballistic missile threats, and maintaining the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability. Our NMD development program has been and will be carried out in compliance with the ABM Treaty. All testing to date has been compliant with the Treaty, and all planned tests that have been sufficiently defined for compliance review have been certified as compliant. Compliance with the ABM Treaty in the development phase has not slowed or curtailed the effort.
Deployment, however, will require Treaty modifications and we have made clear to Russia that we seek to negotiate such modifications in good faith.
The goal of both preserving the ABM Treaty and having the option to deploy an effective defense against rogue state missile attacks is a wholly reasonable one. We should not be in a position of having to choose between adding the capability to defend against rogue-state ballistic missile attack, on the one hand, and jeopardizing our interest in strategic stability, a sound relationship with Russia, and further reductions in U.S. and Russian strategic offensive arms, on the other.
There are several reasons we should not have to face that choice:
-- First, the system we would deploy would not in any way threaten Russiaís deterrent. The limited NMD system we would deploy is completely different from the large-scale territorial defense against each other that greatly concerned the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Our NMD program is not directed against Russiaís nuclear deterrent, nor will it provide the capability to threaten that deterrent. The capability of our proposed NMD system would be limited to defense against a small number of missiles ñ from a few warheads to a few tens of warheads.
-- Second, the ABM Treaty already allows a limited ballistic missile defense system (though not a nation-wide one). Indeed, the ABM Treaty from its inception in 1972 has permitted the deployment of limited defenses, and Russia has long maintained such an ABM system around Moscow.
-- Third, the ABM Treaty ñ even when modified to permit deployment of a limited defense system ñ will remain fully viable and a key element of our strategy to reduce further the nuclear threat via negotiated reductions in strategic offensive arms and vigorous non-proliferation efforts. The limited defensive system we have in mind is fully consistent with the fundamental purpose of the ABM Treaty, which is to ensure that each partyís strategic deterrent is not threatened by missile defenses of the other party. We believe the Treaty can be amended to permit deployment of a limited NMD, while preserving the fundamental principle of the Treaty that prohibits large-scale defense that would threaten strategic deterrence.
The real threat to the Treaty comes not from our efforts to modify it to reflect current realities, but from a fixed refusal to modify it to permit the U.S. (and Russia) to build effective defenses against rogue state threats. Neither the ABM Treaty, nor any other international treaty, can remain viable if it fails to reflect contemporary realities: in this case, the need to counter the threat posed by rogue state ballistic missile proliferation, which threatens the United States and, for that matter, Russia and many other nations as well.
Over the past few years, we have kept Russia informed of our NMD policy, and of our progress in developing an NMD system, such as our initiation of analysis of the environmental impact of interceptor deployment in Alaska. We have begun detailed discussion with the Russians about our possible deployment of a limited NMD system and the necessity of adapting the ABM Treaty to permit such a deployment while sustaining its ban on large-scale national missile defenses. Specifically:
We are now seeking Russiaís agreement to those changes to the ABM treaty required to permit us to meet our initial goal. We have judged it right to leave to President Clintonís successoróand that of President Yeltsinóthe issue of follow-on negotiations on further changes to the ABM Treaty required to meet larger, more complex threats from North Korea and the Middle East, but we have made clear that we expect such negotiations to be necessary. We would expect those follow-on negotiations to begin in 2001, to insure the United States could begin the needed construction of additional components, possibly including foreign-based ABM radars, to provide a defense against the emergence of a more sophisticated threat.
Both the United States and Russia face ballistic missile threats. The President has told President Yeltsin, and Secretary Cohen has told Minister of Defense Sergeyev, that we want to work cooperatively with Russia on these matters. In this regard, we have recently proposed a number of specific projects to the Russian government. Through these cooperative programs, both the United States and Russia should acquire tangible benefits to their security that will help both nations demonstrate that a cooperative approach on ABM is in our common interest.
As I noted, we have already begun to engage Russia on the limited NMD system we are considering and on the ABM Treaty implications. As has been clear from Russian public statements, the Russian government reaction so far has been negative. That said, however, the Russians agree that it is important to discuss this matter. As to the prospects of eventual Russian agreement, Secretary Cohen has said, ìWe will negotiate with the Russians and try to persuade them it is in our interest and their interest to remain with the framework of modifying it to accommodate us...I believe that we can persuade them that we are serious about holding on to the structure of the ABM Treaty, but it needs to be modified to give us this protection for our own country.î
I do not believe it appropriate to say any more about the state of the negotiations in an open hearing.
If, in the end, we are unsuccessful in these negotiations, the President would have to decide whether to withdraw from the ABM Treaty under the supreme national interest clause. We will make every effort to secure what we think to be the right outcome in our national interest, and that of Russia and the rest of the world ñ modification of the ABM Treaty so that our planned National Missile Defense system can go forward, while preserving the ABM Treaty as a key component of strategic stability for the future.
In conclusion Mr. Chairman, our planning for an NMD system is well advanced. It seeks to anticipate future rogue state threats, and to develop systems that can defend against such threats. Our NMD program remains on a highly accelerated track to ensure we are positioned to respond to an emerging rogue nation threat.
The Department and the Administration as a whole have worked closely with this Committee over the years to ensure that the United States possesses the necessary means to defend its people and forces, and we look forward to continuing these efforts.