John Lauder, Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence
Commission to Assess the Organization of the
Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass
April 29, 1999
Thank you Messrs. Chairmen and members of the Commission.
I welcome being here today to help inform and support the work of this
Commission. We in the nonproliferation intelligence community look
forward to your recommendations in helping us deal with the formidable
challenges that the United States Government faces in seeking to
anticipate, assess, counter, and even roll back the spread of weapons
of mass destruction (WMD). Conveying to you a full understanding of
both the threats and what we in the Intelligence Community are doing
to combat those threats are best dealt with in the closed sessions of
the Commission. There are some observations and trends, however, that
I can highlight in this unclassified setting. I have provided a
Statement for the Record, and with your permission I will now draw
from it to make some key points.
Let me say first that I particularly welcome being here with Neil
Gallagher of the FBI. Also here to help answer the Commission's
questions is (name withheld) of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Other
experts are in the room and we will ask them to identify themselves if
we need to call on them to help during the questioning. The
interagency team that all of us represent is a symbol of the type of
cooperation that we have been fostering and indeed that is essential
to providing the intelligence that this country needs to understand
and address the proliferation challenge.
DCI George Tenet has emphasized in his appearances before Congress
that no issue better illustrates the new challenges, complexities, and
uncertainties that we in the Intelligence Community face than the
proliferation of WMD and their delivery means. Over the past year, we
have witnessed the nuclear tests in South Asia, continued concerns
about Iraq's WMD programs, broader availability of technologies
relevant to biological and chemical warfare, and accelerated missile
development in Iran, North Korea, and -- most recently -- in Pakistan
and India. Particularly worrisome to the Intelligence Community is the
security of Russian WMD materials, increased cooperation among rogue
states, more effective efforts by proliferants to conceal illicit
activities, and growing interest by terrorists in acquiring WMD
US intelligence is increasing its emphasis and resources on many of
these issues, but there is a continued and growing risk of surprise.
We appropriately focus much of our intelligence collection and
analysis on some ten states, but even concerning these states, there
are important gaps in our knowledge. Moreover, we have identified well
over 50 states that are of proliferation concern as suppliers,
conduits, or potential proliferants. Our analytical and collection
coverage against most of these states is stretched, and many of the
trends seen, such as the possibility of shortcuts to acquiring fissile
material and increased denial and deception activities, make it harder
to track some key developments, even in the states of greatest
Looking at the supply-side first: Russian and Chinese assistance to
proliferant countries has merited particular attention for several
years. Last year, Russia announced new controls on transfers of
missile-related technology. There were some positive sips in Russia's
performance early last year but, unfortunately, there has not been a
sustained improvement. Expertise and materiel from Russia has
continued to assist the progress of several states. For example,
Russian entities have helped the Iranian missile effort in areas
ranging from training, to testing, to components. This assistance is
continuing as we speak, and is playing a crucial role in Iran's
ability to develop more sophisticated and longer-range missiles.
Making matters worse, societal and economic stress in Russia seems
likely to grow, raising even more concerns about the security of
nuclear weapons and fissile material. Although we have not had recent
reports that weapons-usable nuclear material is missing in Russia,
what we have noticed are reports of strikes, lax discipline, poor
morale, and criminal activity at nuclear facilities. These are alarm
bells that warrant our closest attention and concern.
Moreover, these same stresses are propagating a "brain drain" in which
WMD-related technologies -- particularly those relating to biological
weapons (BW) and chemical weapons (CW) -- are for sale by Russian
individuals to proliferant states. As you know, plugging this brain
drain and helping provide alternative courses for the former Soviet
Union's WMD infrastructure are key goals of US nonproliferation
policy, as well as a variety of US and international cooperation
programs with Russia and other former Soviet states.
The China story is a mixed picture. China is actively studying
membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, has promulgated
controls on dual-use nuclear technology, and tightened chemical export
controls. We cannot yet be certain, however, that the new export
control mechanisms will be effective, and worrisome contacts continue
between Chinese entities and countries of concern.
Both the Chinese Government and Chinese firms have long-standing and
deep relationships with proliferant countries, and we are not
convinced that China's companies fully share the commitments
undertaken by senior Chinese leaders. While all aspects of China's
proliferation behavior bear continued watching, we see more signs of
progress on nuclear and chemical matters than on missile assistance.
There is little positive that can be said about North Korea, the third
major global proliferator, whose incentive to engage in such behavior
increases as its economy continues to decline. Missiles and WMD
know-how are North Korean products for which there is a real market.
North Korea's sales of such products over the years have dramatically
heightened the missile capabilities of countries such as Iran and
North Korea's sales are the most striking example of what we call
"secondary proliferation." Countries such as India, Pakistan, and Iran
-- traditionally seen as technology customers -- have also now
developed capabilities that they could export to others.
Turning to the demand side, let's focus first on nuclear programs.
Last year's nuclear testing in South Asia produced new stresses on
international nuclear norms. Despite many improvements to the nuclear
nonproliferation regime in this decade, several factors foreshadow a
decrease in the effectiveness of nuclear nonproliferation measures.
Some nuclear supplier states are pursuing nuclear and dual-use trade
-- even with non-NPT and "rogue" states. The technology and equipment
needed to make nuclear weapons have become more accessible
commercially. More sophisticated denial and deception measures, as
well as a growing trend toward nuclear self-sufficiency, may also
protect clandestine nuclear programs from interdiction.
Last spring dramatically made clear that both India and Pakistan are
well positioned to pursue development of advanced nuclear weapons and
build significant nuclear arsenals. We remain concerned about the
prospects for renewed testing by India and Pakistan, and the resulting
escalation of the nuclear arms race on the subcontinent.
Meanwhile, Iran also seems to be pushing its program forward. Russian
entities continued to market and support a variety of nuclear-related
projects in Iran, despite Russian assurances that cooperation is
limited to the civilian Bushehr nuclear power reactor. This project,
along with other nuclear-related purchases, will help Iran augment its
nuclear technology infrastructure.
Iraq probably has the personnel, documentation, and some equipment
needed to continue nuclear-related work. If Iraq is able to evade the
embargo and improve its access to foreign markets, it could begin a
major reconstitution effort.
With regard to North Korea, the "Agreed Framework" has frozen
Pyongyang's ability to produce additional plutonium at Yongbyon, but
we are deeply concerned that North Korea has a covert program. A key
target for us to watch is the underground construction project at
Kumchang-ni, which may be large enough to house a plutonium production
reactor and perhaps a reprocessing plant as well.
Although Libya is suspected of aspiring to nuclear weapons capability,
Tripoli's nuclear research and procurement efforts appear decades away
from reaching nuclear sufficiency.
The missile story is no more encouraging, as recent events have shown.
Unfortunately, the high level of launch activity in 1998 has continued
this year. This month alone, we have seen tests of India's Agni-2
missile and Pakistan's Ghauri and Shaheen missiles. Each of these
missiles has the potential to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Other activity over the past year included the first launches of the
North Korean Taepo Dong-1 and the Iranian Shahab-3. Both the Ghauri
and the Shahab-3 are based on North Korea's No Dong. With a range of
1,300 km, the No Dong, Shahab-3, and Ghauri significantly alter the
military equations in their respective regions. In short,
theater-range missiles with increasing range pose an immediate and
growing threat to US interests, military forces, and allies -- and the
threat is increasing.
More disturbing is that foreign missiles of increased range and
military potential are under development. North Korea's Taepo-Dong 1,
launched last August, demonstrated the use of three stages and
technology that, particularly with the resolution of some important
technical issues, would give North Korea the ability to deliver a very
small payload to intercontinental ranges -- including parts of the
United States -- although not very accurately.
The North Koreans are also working on another missile -- the Taepo
Dong-2. With two stages, the Taepo Dong-2, which has not yet been
flight-tested, would be able to deliver significantly larger payloads
to mainland Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands, and smaller payloads to
other parts of the United States. In other words, the lighter the
payload, the greater the range. With a third stage like the one
demonstrated last August on the Taepo Dong-1, this missile would be
able to deliver large payloads to the rest of the United States.
Foreign assistance is a fundamental factor behind the growth in the
missile threat. For example, foreign assistance helped Iran save years
in its development of the Shahab-3 missile, which is based on the
North Korean No Dong and, as I noted earlier, includes Russian -- and,
to a lesser extent Chinese -- assistance. Moreover, Iran will continue
to both seek longer range missiles and foreign assistance in their
Iraqi capabilities to develop missiles also continue to be a concern.
Before the Gulf War, Iraq was ahead of Iran in such developments. If
sanctions against Iraq were lifted, or if the United Nations
monitoring regime were to be less intrusive, we would have to assume
that Iraq would seek longer-range capabilities.
Libya continued to obtain ballistic missile-related equipment,
materials, and technology during the second half of last year, while
Syria continued its work on establishing a rocket motor development
and production capability. Foreign equipment and assistance have been
and will continue to be essential for this effort.
Against the backdrop of an increasing missile threat, the
proliferation of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) takes on more
alarming dimensions. At least sixteen states, including those with
missile programs mentioned earlier, currently have active CW programs,
and perhaps a dozen are pursuing offensive BW programs.
One of the most active players has been Iran. It already has
manufactured and stockpiled CW, including blister, blood, and choking
agents, and the bombs and artillery shells for delivering them. Even
though it is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Tehran
continues to obtain foreign equipment and materials that could be used
to create a more advanced and self-sufficient CW infrastructure.
Tehran also continues to seek dual-use biotechnological equipment from
Russia and other countries -- ostensibly for civilian uses. Iran began
a biological warfare program during the Iran-Iraq war, and it may have
some limited capability for BW deployment.
Iraq is another serious CBW proliferation concern, despite more than
seven years of rigorous inspections. There are strong indications that
Iraq retains a CW capability and that it has helped other countries --
particularly Sudan -- develop or expand CW capabilities. In addition,
since the Gulf War, Baghdad has rebuilt chemical facilities that could
be converted fairly quickly for production of CW agents.
Meanwhile, Iraq refuses to disclose fully the extent of its BW program
and still has not accounted for over a hundred BW bombs and more than
three metric tons of imported growth media -- directly related to past
production and future capabilities. Iraq has demonstrated the
capability to deliver BW agent from aircraft. We believe Iraq will
exploit any opportunity to reconstitute its pre-Gulf War CBW
capabilities as rapidly as possible, once sanctions are lifted.
Libya remains heavily dependent on foreign suppliers for precursor
chemicals and other key CW-related equipment. Although UN sanctions
continue to severely limit that support, Tripoli has not given up its
goal of establishing its own offensive CW capability and continues to
pursue an independent production capability for these weapons.
Syria continued to seek CW-related precursors from various countries
last year. It already has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and it
apparently is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve
agents. Damascus remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements
of its CW program, including precursor chemicals and key production
Significantly, a number of CBW programs are run by countries with a
history of sponsoring terrorism. One of our greatest concerns is the
serious prospect that Usama Bin Ladin or another terrorist might use
chemical or biological weapons. Bin Ladin's organization is just one
of about a dozen terrorist groups that have expressed an interest in
or have sought chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)
agents. Bin Ladin, for example, has called the acquisition of these
weapons a "religious duty" and noted that "how we use them is up to
Numbers alone, however, do not adequately reflect the true nature of
the growing CBW threat. The greatest change is that individual CBW
programs are becoming more dangerous in a number of ways.
First: As deadly as they now are, CBW agents could become even more
sophisticated. Rapid advances in biotechnology present the prospect of
a wholly new array of toxins or live agents that will require new
detection methods and preventative measures, including vaccines and
therapies. Russian whistleblowers have warned publicly of a new
generation of CW agents, sometimes called "Novichok" agents, that
might also necessitate new detection and treatment approaches. To
compound the problem, Third World proliferants probably are already
seeking such technology and could develop or acquire advanced agents
in the near future.
In addition, researchers are exploring different ways to use BW,
including mixtures of slow- and fast-acting agents, and "cocktails"
with chemical agents.
Gains in genetic engineering are making it increasingly difficult for
us to recognize all the agents threatening us. Also, BW attacks need
not be directed only at humans. Plant and animal pathogens may be used
against agricultural targets, creating potential economic devastation.
Second: CBW programs are becoming more self-sufficient, challenging
our detection and deterrence efforts, and limiting our interdiction
opportunities. Iran is a case-in-point. Tehran -- driven in part by
stringent international export controls -- has set about acquiring the
ability to produce domestically the raw materials and equipment needed
to support indigenous chemical and biological agent production.
Third: Countries are taking advantage of denial and deception
techniques, concealing and protecting CBW programs. Concealment is
simpler with BW because of its overlap with legitimate research and
commercial biotechnology. Even so, a CW capability can fairly easily
be embedded into a commercial pesticide plant or other parts of an
industrial chemical infrastructure.
Even supposedly "legitimate" facilities can readily conduct
clandestine CBW research and can convert rapidly to agent production,
providing a mobilization or "breakout" capability. As a result, large
stockpiles of CBW munitions simply may not be required in today's CBW
Fourth: Advances are occurring in dissemination techniques, delivery
options, and strategies for CBW use. We are concerned that CBW-capable
countries are acquiring advanced technologies to design, test, and
produce highly effective CBW munitions and sophisticated delivery
systems, such as cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles.
Two other phenomena complicate the problem. The first is brain drain;
as mentioned previously, scientists with transferable know-how
continue to leave the former Soviet Union, some potentially for
destinations of proliferation concern. Second, the struggle to control
dual-use technologies only gets harder. A few individuals are ready to
take advantage of this and are ready to transform opportunities for
human betterment into threats of human destruction.
The same technology that is used for good today, can, if it falls into
the wrong hands, be used for evil tomorrow. The overlap between BW
agents and vaccines, and between nerve agents and pesticides is, as
you know, considerable. The technologies used to prolong our lives and
improve our standard of living can quite easily be used to cause mass
casualties. BW technology is, in part, widely available because all
societies have a legitimate need for the biotechnology on which it is
I would offer one footnote on the difficulty of assessing the threat
from biological and chemical weapons today: Intelligence is all about
ascertaining not only the capabilities, but also the intentions of
one's adversaries. Because of the dual utility of the technology and
expertise involved, the actual CBW threat is in fact tied directly to
intentions. Getting at this intent is the hardest thing for
intelligence to do, but it is essential if we are to determine with
certainty the scope and nature of the global biological and chemical
The Intelligence Community Response
So what is the Intelligence Community doing to address the global WMD
proliferation problem and to use our available resources in the best
An important step in boosting the Intelligence Community's WMD
nonproliferation efforts across the board occurred about a year and a
half ago, when DCI Tenet reorganized the nonproliferation intelligence
community and significantly increased the size of his Nonproliferation
He appointed me to be both his Special Assistant for Nonproliferation
and Director of his Nonproliferation Center (NPC) in order to oversee
the US Intelligence Community's efforts. Specifically, he charged me
with improving coordination and communication, empowering me with the
means to lash up the nonproliferation community to better meet the
growing need for intelligence on weapons of mass destruction programs.
At the same time, nearly all of the analysts in CIA's Directorate of
Intelligence who were covering biological and chemical weapons, all of
the proliferation specialists dealing with missiles and nuclear
technology, and all of the analysts investigating the proliferation
supplier networks were brought into NPC. A major reason for increasing
the size of NPC was to provide a critical mass of experts to grow and
nurture the next generation of WMD and proliferation analysts and
Speaking of the "next generation," a top strategic priority for NPC,
and all of us in the nonproliferation intelligence community, is
analysis -- especially the steps needed to promote analytical depth
and expertise. We have a strong front line, but we need a deeper
bench. To that end, we are adding significant numbers of analysts and
taking innovative measures to help these analysts cope with the fire
hose of information that is out there. Our future effectiveness will
rest heavily on taking new directions in information technology and
I would note, also, that it would be impossible and inadvisable to try
to put all of the IC's (Intelligence Community's) resources on this
issue within a single center, given the sheer breadth of the
nonproliferation issue. The strength of the Community's
nonproliferation effort depends not just on the success of the DCI
Nonproliferation Center, but on our ability to forge effective
partnerships with a variety of organizations. Some of the steps we
have taken include:
-- Our enticement last fall of one of the leading virologists in the
United States to start work as the DCI's Senior Science and Technology
Advisor for Nonproliferation. The near term focus will be BW, but we
hope over time to broaden this advisor's purview to include other WMD
-- We have assembled an outside Panel of outside top scientists,
technical administrators, and senior individuals from academia,
private industry, the national labs, the military, and the public
health services to give strategic advice to the DCI. This Panel will
hold its inaugural meeting next week.
-- We are increasing representation from DIA, FBI, NSA, NIMA, the
military intelligence organizations and other agencies, such as
Commerce and Customs, throughout the Center's operations, while also
increasing the rotation of NPC analysts out into the Community.
-- We are enhancing cooperation within the Intelligence, Policy,
Defense, Law Enforcement, and Public Health Communities to counter
nuclear, biological, chemical, and even radiological terrorism. For
example, I co-chair with the FBI the Intelligence Subgroup of the
Weapons of Mass Destruction Preparedness Working Group established
-- Finally, we are developing new tools and new approaches for
analysts that are beginning to bear fruit. We are employing new funds
and seeking new opportunities to combat proliferation across the
board, including seeking the help of outside experts to attack the
issue of proliferation surprise.
Our recent efforts in the ballistic missile arena provide a good
example of how we are addressing this last point. In preparing for
this year's annual report to Congress on foreign missile developments,
we included significant additional outside expertise and red teaming:
-- Private-sector contractors helped us identify alternative
development paths that future ballistic missiles could take, including
specific technologies and potential hurdles involved. These efforts
include assessments of the effects of increased foreign assistance.
-- We have scheduled a conference with the Center for Strategic and
International Studies to have academia and others postulate future
politico-economic environments that foster missile sales and
increasing foreign assistance.
-- Last summer, the Intelligence Community published a classified
paper that postulated ways a country could demonstrate an ICBM
(intercontinental ballistic missile) capability with a space launch
vehicle (SLV), and examined various ways it could convert its SLVs
into ICBMs. This work also fed into the 1999 report as a generic look
at some alternative approaches.
-- Drafting is underway on a paper that examines how countries could
push Scud technology beyond perceived limits. Scientists and
nonscientists are involved. Sometimes, those already outside the box
can think outside the box more readily.
-- I mention the above examples from our missile analysis, but similar
efforts are underway in the nuclear, biological, and chemical areas as
In closing, let me reiterate our concern regarding the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction and long-range delivery systems
worldwide. This concern should, and does, motivate us all to do
everything we can to counter the threat and to defend against it. Our
efforts have received a tremendous boost from the support we have
received here on the Hill to provide funding for a number of measures
that will strengthen our intelligence capabilities. Moreover, the DCI
has launched a Strategic Direction initiative that will strengthen our
clandestine collection and analytical work by putting more operations
officers on foreign streets and more analysts on accounts, and then
support them to the hilt with the best tools available.
In addition, the new positions of Deputy Director of Central
Intelligence for Community Management and the Assistant Director of
Central Intelligence for Collection give the DCI effective new tools
for carrying out his responsibilities in planning, programs, and
budget development, requirements management, and acquisition oversight
across agency and disciplinary lines. Both officers play an important
role in forging interagency strategies, including for collection,
against WMD and proliferation issues.
I believe that the changes we have made or are implementing will
enhance the overall effectiveness of the Intelligence Community in
managing and expanding our efforts to support US national
nonproliferation goals. Although many steps have been taken to improve
our understanding of the threat, we cannot guarantee that we will be
able to anticipate or collect against every military action or
terrorist act involving WMD.
There is more that needs to be done, and we will work with many
players throughout the US Government on the next steps. Although the
growing WMD and ballistic missile threat cannot be met by US
Intelligence alone, our work will be crucial to defending American
interests and protecting American lives.