Cohen on DOD Report on "Proliferation: Threat and Response"
Message of the Secretary of Defense
At the dawn of the 21st Century, the United States now faces what
could be called a Superpower Paradox. Our unrivaled supremacy in the
conventional military arena is prompting adversaries to seek
unconventional, asymmetric means to strike what they perceive as our
At least 25 countries now possess or are in the process of acquiring
developing capabilities to inflict mass casualties and destruction:
nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons or the means to deliver
them. For example: North Korea is building and selling long-range
missiles, has chemical and biological warfare capabilities, and may
have diverted fissile material for nuclear weaponry. Iran, with
foreign assistance, is buying and developing longer-range missiles,
already has chemical weapons, and is seeking nuclear and biological
Iraq which prior to the 1991 Gulf War had developed chemical and
weapons and associated delivery means, and was close to a nuclear
may have reconstituted these efforts since the departure of UN
inspectors from Iraq in late 1998.
Libya has chemical capabilities and is trying to buy long-range
Also looming on the horizon is the prospect that these terror weapons
will increasingly wend their way into the hands of individuals and
groups of fanatical terrorists or self-proclaimed apocalyptic
prophets. The followers of Usama bin Laden have, in fact, already
trained with toxic chemicals.
Fears for the future are not hyperbole. Indeed, past may be prologue.
Iraq has used chemical weapons against Iran and its own people. Those
behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing also were gathering the
ingredients for a chemical weapon that could have killed thousands
here in the United States.
I have been concerned about the security threats posed by
proliferation from the day I took office as Secretary of Defense.
Completely halting proliferation is not possible, but stemming it is
both vitally important and achievable. To that end, the Department of
Defense (DoD) is playing an active role in technology transfer and
export controls and in the implementation of arms control and
nonproliferation regimes. DoD is participating in the on-going effort
to improve transparency under the Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention. Through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, DoD is
implementing inspection and monitoring requirements of several U.S.
treaties. And under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, DoD is
assisting the states of the Former Soviet Union in preventing the
further proliferation of NBC knowledge and capabilities.
However, recognizing that proliferation has and will occur, it is also
essential that we do our utmost to provide protection for our forces
overseas, and indeed, to take steps to mitigate the consequences of a
terrorist act using such weapons here at home. I strongly believe that
preparation is itself a deterrent. That is why I directed in the 1997
Quadrennial Defense Review that an additional billion dollars be added
over the subsequent five years to the Department of Defense
Counterproliferation Initiative. Through this effort, we are making
important strides in improving the preparedness of our troops to
operate effectively despite the threat or use of NBC weapons by an
Combatant commanders have adapted plans to account for the threat or
use of such
weapons. Efforts continue to further enhance the full range of theater
missile defense systems.
Significant strides have been made in developing and fielding improved
chemical and biological (CB) detection and protection equipment.
Military commanders are adapting training standards, doctrine and
operations to ensure the readiness of U.S. forces to carry out their
missions under chemical and biological weapons conditions.
Enhancing the capabilities of our Allies and international partners is
also an integral part of this Initiative. We have a mature effort
underway within the NATO Alliance, and a number of bilateral
activities with specific NATO allies. We also have initiated programs
with friends and allies in Asia and in the Middle East, including the
Cooperative Defense Initiative with Persian Gulf states. At the same
time, as part of a federal interagency effort, the Defense Department
is doing its part to assist and advise cities and communities across
the nation in coping with the catastrophic consequences of an attack
that unleashes these horrific weapons on U.S. soil.
This new edition of Proliferation: Threat and Response, the second
since I became Secretary of Defense, updates information about the
nature of the proliferation problem and describes the policies and
programs the Defense Department is carrying out to counter this
growing threat to American citizens, armed forces, and allies. The
race is on between our preparations and those of our adversaries.
There is not a moment to lose.