WWS 401a: Intelligence Reform in the Post-Cold War Era

Professor Diane C. Snyder

Controlling Nuclear Anarchy:

The Role of the United States Intelligence Community in Monitoring Nuclear Nonproliferation in the Post-Cold War Era

Jeff Siegel
January 6, 1997

This paper has been written in accordance with University regulations.


During the Cold War, our national security, and that of the Soviet Union, was premised upon a dangerous but well-understood balance of terror, and well-traveled avenues of diplomacy. Both the US and the Soviets maintained formidable nuclear arsenals, so there was a high risk that conflict would result in certain and unacceptable losses no matter who the initial aggressor. If conflict appeared possible, diplomatic channels were available as a relief valve to avoid escalation of tension. Although living in a climate of risk, we enjoyed a high level of stability.

The collapse of Soviet Communism and the end of the Cold War eliminated what many considered to be the gravest threat to world security. Yet, today the concerns of the Cold War have been replaced with new and far different threats. We have moved from an era of high risk, but also high stability, to an era of much lower risk, but also much less stability...

-- Sam Nunn
United States Senator
Speech to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
March 13, 1996



The United States Intelligence Community (IC) has long been an essential support component in American attempts to monitor the existence of nuclear weapons and the development of international nuclear programs. During the Cold War, intelligence played a vital role in accounting for Soviet missiles and weapons facilities and in guaranteeing international compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 (see Figure 1 in the Appendix). Primarily through the use of satellite imagery and other forms of technical intelligence (TECHINT), the IC provided the verification monitoring support that was so crucial to arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union and controlling the spread of nuclear weapons and material to other nations. By supplying American leaders with comprehensive information about nuclear proliferation, intelligence provided the backbone for agreements that maintained international peace and security.

In the post-Cold War era, the primary mission of the US Intelligence Community in the nonproliferation arena is still to support those who make and execute policy; essentially, the IC still maintains the same responsibilities now that it did during the Cold War: 1) preventing acquisition of nuclear weapons or fissile material by non-nuclear states and potential terrorists; 2) capping or rolling back existing nuclear programs of other nations or groups; 3) deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and 4) ensuring US forces maintain an ability to operate against proliferated weapons.

But with the end of the Cold War, these efforts have become even more essential and more complex. Undoubtedly, the end of Soviet-American tensions has greatly reduced the specter of nuclear annihilation, and has enabled both the United States and the Soviet Union to drastically reduce the size of their nuclear missile stockpiles. However, the political fragmentation and economic disarray of the former Soviet Union, along with the worldwide diffusion of technology, raise new proliferation threats and complications for the intelligence community in monitoring the development of international nuclear weapons programs. Despite all the international criticism that is brought down upon nations and groups that attempt to gain nuclear weapons capabilities, nations and terrorists will always pay the price of being hated for the benefit of being feared.

The instability and uncertainty of the post-Cold War world has led many intelligence experts to yearn for the dark days of the 1960s and 1970s when the United States knew the enemy and his capabilities. R. James Woolsey, the Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) from 1993-1994, warned that the world may soon face an "era of anarchic proliferation," and in his March 1993 Senate confirmation hearing he remarked that "We have slain a large [Soviet] dragon. But we now live in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes." Indeed, the threat of nuclear proliferation and smuggling in the post-Cold War era is perhaps the single greatest threat to America's national security.

This paper shall analyze how US intelligence has adapted its nonproliferation efforts to meet the challenges of this post-Cold War world. It will first examine the new proliferation threats and problems caused by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After describing the structure and functions of the US intelligence nonproliferation hierarchy, this report will describe how intelligence helps to monitor the security of fissile material, nuclear smuggling, and attempts by nations to develop nuclear weapons.

Also, this paper will explain the overall coordination of American intelligence in the nonproliferation sphere, and the extent to which the United States shares information with the international community. The paper will conclude with a general evaluation of the success of US intelligence in this area and recommendations for future improvements.

I. Nuclear Proliferation in the Post-Cold War Era

A. Increasing Opportunities

The end of the Cold War has significantly reduced the threat of nuclear Armageddon between the United States and the Soviet Union and has led to greater international cooperation in limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. Recent arms reduction and nonproliferation measures have insured that thousands of Russian nuclear weapons once aimed at American shores have been removed from their launchers and shipped to dismantling plants.

However, while the end of the Cold War greatly diminished the threat of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the Soviet Union has increased the potential for acquisition of nuclear materials and nuclear weapons by nations or groups hostile to the United States. The USSR disintegrated while in possession of some 30,000 nuclear weapons, tons of weapons grade fissile materials, and tens of thousands of scientists and technicians with the technological knowledge of how to produce nuclear weapons, but without much opportunity to earn a respectable living in a collapsed economy. Social, economic and political disorder have destabilized the international atomic regime by increasing the opportunities for nuclear smuggling and other forms of "nuclear leakage."

Since the explosion of the first nuclear warhead in 1945, the major impediments to would-be proliferators have been the technical knowledge of how to build a weapon and the acquisition of the fissile material necessary to build it. Despite the difficulties inherent in constructing a nuclear bomb, expertise in exactly how to build an atomic weapon is fairly widespread and relatively easy to find in the post-Cold War world. Consequently, securing fissile material in the former Soviet Union has become even more critical at the same time as it has become more difficult.

B. Nuclear Leakage

Several problems that have developed since the end of the Cold War threaten the stability of international atomic security. First, several new nuclear states were born immediately as the Soviet Union split up into fifteen new nations. When the Soviet Union dissolved, three newly independent states outside of Russia Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine were left with nuclear weapons deployed in their territories. Fortunately, with the signing of the 1992 Lisbon protocol to the START agreement with the United States, all three nations have pledged to become members of the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states and have agreed to transfer all their nuclear weapons back to Russia.

Second, the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to a breakdown in the security and accountability network for monitoring nuclear weapons and fissile material. For over seven decades, the Soviet government controlled, or sought to control, virtually every dimension of national life: what the economy produced, what citizens did, even what people thought. Despite the problems associated with the Communist system, the world could always be assured of the security of nuclear weapons and fissile material. Soviet-era control systems relied heavily on keeping nuclear material in secret cities and facilities, closely monitoring nuclear industry personnel and severely punishing control violators. Any nuclear theft would catch the attention of the secret police, which was ubiquitous, effective and ruthless. Anyone caught stealing nuclear materials could expect no leniency from the Soviet legal system and nuclear leakage was not a major problem in the tightly controlled Soviet society.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, much of this nuclear custodial system has been substantially weakened. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union never supplemented its repressive approach to controlling fissile material with other measures to safeguard "direct- use" technology. MinAtom, the Russian Ministry, of Energy, has not upgraded security at its nuclear storage facilities to levels adequate to safeguard nuclear materials. The breakdown in the Russian security and accountability mechanisms have significantly increased the opportunity for any aspiring proliferator to gain access to all the items needed to construct a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, James L. Ford, the Director of the Office of Energy Intelligence at the Department of Energy (DoE) notes that the reduction in the Soviet nuclear stockpile has further exacerbated the nuclear leakage problem:

As we implement treaties, such as the START treaty which requires the destruction of nuclear weapons, missiles, and submarines...as those things are destroyed, you end up with nuclear material such as highly enriched uranium, plutonium, that goes into the actual making of a bomb. ...this is extremely dangerous material....So there is in effect a lot of material that is being "freed" from a fairly safe and secure storage inside a missile or a bomb to a less secure state where you take it out and store it in a canister on a shelf in a nuclear shelter. As these weapons are dismantled and the material is taken out of these weapons, the material is then turned over to MinAtom the Ministry of Atomic Energy. And most experts, I should say many experts, in the West regard the Ministry of Atomic Energy as providing relatively less security of this material than the Soviet military proved to the weapons.

Without a precise inventory and adequate security measures, it may be impossible even to know that a theft has occurred, much less assess the seriousness of any such incident.

Third, the comprehensive Soviet nuclear legacy is now sellable on the international black market: human expertise (the "brain drain" problem), weapons design information, weapons components, fissile material, nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Moreover, the threat of nuclear leakage appears to be more than hypothetical. Troubling rumors many of which have been confirmed by CIA suggest that a surge in weapons proliferation was rampant at the end of the Cold War including: the nuclear weapons programs in Iraq and North Korea; aggressive efforts by Iran to purchase fissionable materials; the sale of advanced conventional weaponry by North Korea and other nations to Iran, Algeria, Syria and Libya; the near-outbreak of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan; and international crime rings smuggling and selling weapons and fissile material (for a full index of incidents of nuclear smuggling, see Figure 2 in the Appendix). These incidents and others like them have forced the United States to focus its nonproliferation efforts on securing international stockpiles of highly enriched Uranium (HEU), Plutonium and other radioactive substances. Nuclear leakage enables many would-be proliferators to achieve their goal more easily, more quickly, more covertly, and more cheaply and thus jeopardizes international peace and security.

C. Dual-Use Technologies and Civilian Nuclear Development

Controlling technologies and materials needed to construct nuclear weapons is very much complicated by the fact that a significant portion of the technology is "dual use," and has both military and civilian applications. Peaceful nuclear programs and atomic energy initiatives can provide the infrastructure to develop a nuclear weapon. Electronic devices used to trigger bombs are also used in oil exploration. High speed computers used for everything from climate modeling, to designing airliners can also be used to design nuclear bombs. These technological changes and "dual-use" materials have caused major problems in monitoring the international flow of nuclear materials and many international nuclear export controls have been rendered inadequate and are much more difficult to enforce in the post-Cold War world.

Also, if the collapse of nuclear controls in Russia poses the short-term threat of terrorists seizing fissile material to make nuclear weapons, longer-term fears arise from those nations that wish to pursue nuclear energy solutions to help solve their own domestic energy crises. Despite hopes that the post-Cold War world would produce far less plutonium, Japan, Great Britain France and Russia all intend to increase their reliance on atomic energy as a virtually self-sustaining source of electric power. Now that nuclear weapon science is everywhere, the greatest obstacle to bomb production is not know-how, but access to plutonium or highly enriched uranium materials which, under the energy strategies being pursued by several countries, will remain in plentiful supply.

II. The Role of the United States Intelligence Community in Monitoring Nuclear Nonproliferation

A. The Iraqi Nuclear Program: Test Case #1

The breakdown in Soviet nuclear security, the inadequacy of Russian accounting systems of fissile material, the dispersion of nuclear technical expertise, the difficulty in monitoring dual-use technology through export controls and the increased international reliance on atomic energy, present ominous challenges for the intelligence community as we enter the 21st Century. When these difficulties are coupled with the desire of nations and terrorist groups to acquire nuclear capabilities, the monitoring of nonproliferation in the post- Cold War era by the US intelligence community becomes frighteningly more important and difficult.

Despite changes in the international nuclear environment, the IC entered the 1990s relying on the same system for coordinating nonproliferation information that it used during the Cold War. So when American officials discovered an Iraqi nuclear program in its advanced stages during the Persian Gulf War, the US IC, international intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were all shocked and forced to explain the reasons for the first major intelligence failure in the post-Cold War era.

Although the IC did know that Iraq had been working on its nuclear program for some time, few people knew how advanced or intensive the program really was. Apparently, Iraq had embarked on an eight-month crash program to make a nuclear weapon immediately after invading Kuwait in August of 1990. The Iraqis diverted uranium from research reactors, and then used a centrifuge enrichment system in a design center outside of Baghdad to produce the nuclear material. By the time the Gulf War began in 1991, Iraq was perilously close to its goal of producing a nuclear weapon.

In 1992, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Robert M. Gates told Congress that all Intelligence agencies around the globe "equally were in error in understanding both the pace and scale of the Iraqi program." Alarmingly, the DCI discovered that pointed warnings of Iraq's intentions were silenced within the Federal Intelligence bureaucracy. These warnings were made in early 1989 by officials in the Energy Department who discovered that Iraq had begun secretly buying nuclear parts, including fuel-making equipment and weapon triggers. Although these officials undertook an urgent effort to inform the National Security Council of these developments, their claims were dismissed by energy department superiors who knew of: 1) the desire of American policy makers to keep Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East, and 2) American estimates that Baghdad's bomb- building efforts were rudimentary and might not bear fruit for a decade or more.

The Iraqi intelligence "failure" signaled to many in the IC that a systematic problem existed in the way nonproliferation intelligence was analyzed, managed and disseminated to policy makers. This situation led the Untied States to realize that the Cold War government intelligence structure needed a stronger, more coordinated approach to intelligence if the nation was going to successfully combat the realities of nuclear proliferation in the post- Cold War era.

B. Reorganization of the United States Intelligence Community: Which Agencies and Offices Monitor Nonproliferation Intelligence in the Post-Cold War Era?

The Iraqi situation and the changes in the international nuclear environment have compelled the intelligence community to reorganize some of the management techniques used to coordinate nonproliferation intelligence. Following is an index of the structure of those agencies, and organizations that are most responsible for collecting, analyzing and monitoring nuclear nonproliferation intelligence and descriptions of exactly how each one fits into the nonproliferation intelligence matrix (please see Figure 3 in the Appendix):

The Executive Office of the President

The National Security Council (NSC): The NSC, primarily through the Office of Nonproliferation and Export Control, is chiefly responsible for the effectiveness of US efforts in the nonproliferation arena. Policy guidance from the Executive Branch also comes through interagency working groups that cut across the major intelligence agencies, like the Interagency Intelligence Committee on Proliferation and the NSC Deputies Committee. With the creation of a new "National Coordinator for Nonproliferation" and a new NSC Committee on Nonproliferation, the NSC will be working to improve nonproliferation coordination throughout the policy and intelligence communities (please see Figure 5 in Appendix).

The National Intelligence Council (NIC): Currently, three National Intelligence Officers (NIOs) advise the DCI on issues relating to the proliferation of WMD. They are responsible for producing the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on nonproliferation and are chiefly responsible for focusing and directing the IC on this issue.

Central Intelligence Agency and the Arms Control Disarmament Agency

The Nonproliferation Center (NPC): Growing out of the belief that the IC was far too fragmented organizationally and badly in need of coordination, DCI William Gates and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney decided to create the NPC in September of 1991. Partially a response to the need of policy makers to acquire more information on potential proliferation culprits, the NPC serves as the focal point for IC proliferation-related analysis and exists to standardize enforcement and licensing of nonproliferation information in the IC.

Although the NPC was designed to be comprised of a multidisciplinary corps of officers from the various secret agencies, the NPC is staffed mainly by CIA personnel and is housed at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The preponderance of CIA officers has led to criticism from some of the other intelligence agencies, particularly military intelligence, who want the center to be more sensitive to tactical battlefield needs instead of focusing exclusively on supplying information to US diplomats and policy makers.

According to Center Director Gordon Oehler, the primary usefulness of the center is the strategic direction it can provide to the community's nonproliferation activities and the accountability it provides policy makers. Oehler has also established a comprehensive TECHINT and Human Intelligence (HUMINT) target list and has brought closer coordination to all phases of the nonproliferation intelligence effort, from collection through dissemination.

While the NPC has definitely increased the number of resources devoted to nonproliferation, the other agencies of the IC view it mainly as a creature of the CIA and accordingly, it not been very effective in actually coordinating information. The center's director has no formal budgetary or political authority over the IC and the NPC has not really been able to fulfill much of its original charge.

The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) in coordination with the CIA's Arms Control Intelligence Staff (ACIS) work to insure international compliance with treaties such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement (CTR or "Nunn-Lugar"), the first and second phases of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I and START II), the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international arms control agreements. With senior officers from all the major agencies dealing with arms control information, the ACIS is an effective inter-agency organization and stands as a model for the type of coordination that the NPC should orchestrate.

Even though these organizations do not directly support nonproliferation policy, these offices often provide the intelligence community with information relating to the securing of nuclear material and weapons, which is of course the primary interest of the nonproliferation intelligence community. Increasingly since the demise of the Soviet Union, the distinction between arms control and nuclear proliferation is often artificial, with information from one area complementing and overlapping the work of the other.

Department of Energy (DoE): While the NPC coordinates and serves as the focal point for all nonproliferation intelligence, the Department of Energy is the organization that is most responsible for analyzing nuclear nonproliferation information. Mainly through the major national laboratories, (i.e. Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Brookhaven, etc.), the DoE provides much of the scientific and technical expertise needed to analyze intelligence in this area. In 1994 the DoE centralized its intelligence component in the Office of Energy Intelligence within the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security (see Figure 4 in Appendix).

Essentially, the intelligence offices in the DoE determine: 1) national capability assessments of potential proliferant countries; 2) analyses of state-of-the art fuel cycle technologies, such as enrichment and reprocessing, that proliferant could use to acquire fissile material; 3) assessments of worldwide availability of nuclear weapons and technology that could enable a proliferant to build the physics package of a weapon; 4) assessments of worldwide availability of related but non-nuclear weapons technology such as safety, arming, firing, and fusing systems; and 5) assessments of the activities and behavior of nuclear supplier states and international organizations involved in nuclear commerce, safeguards, and physical security.

The DoE's Office of National Security and Nonproliferation also manages the intelligence support for several initiatives designed to secure existing nuclear weapons and fissile material. For example, since 1991, the DoE has provided intelligence support for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement (CTR) initiated by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. Designed to increase security of fissile material, this program operates as a joint agreement between the US Department of Energy and its Russian equivalent, MinAtom. The DoE also provides coordination and intelligence support for the "Lab-to- Lab" program initiated by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. While this plan is similar to the "Nunn-Lugar" initiative (as the CTR agreement is commonly referred to), the lab-to- lab program is also designed to increase the security of nuclear materials in a much more decentralized, less bureaucratic manner: American labs negotiate directly with Russian nuclear facilities to arrange and establish appropriate material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) systems.

Intelligence is important in these programs for two major reasons. First of all, technical intelligence support from DoE scientists in Russia has helped the US identify the facilities in Russia most at risk and most in need of improved security systems. Secondly, these new bipartisan relationships with the former Soviet Union have facilitated the collection of a "non traditional" sources of human intelligence. Under these initiatives, US scientists and intelligence experts are often permitted direct access to what were the production centers of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. In many cases, American scientists work side-by-side with Russian nuclear scientists at nuclear laboratories and continually exchange information about the security of nuclear warheads and fissile material.

Furthermore, since 1993, the DoE's Office of Export Control and International Safeguards has been building a new secure nationwide computer network known as the Proliferation Information Network System (PINS). This system has helped enhance nonproliferation data, and analysis coordination and cooperation between DoE and the US Government nonproliferation community, while improving the DoE's own export control licensing for dual-use materials.

Department of Defense (DoD): The Department of Defense helps to coordinate much of the technical side of nonproliferation intelligence collection. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is a major producer of nonproliferation intelligence. Through the National Military Collection Center (NMICC), the DIA coordinates HUMINT for DoD and is responsible for producing the nonproliferation national threat assessments. Essentially, through the Central Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), the DIA provides the verification necessary to ensure international compliance with arms control agreements and monitors international nuclear weapons development programs through environmental sampling and recognizing distinctive technical signatures through satellite imagery. Like the CIA, the DIA helps to analyze intelligence information and to compile finished nonproliferation intelligence products.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is mainly a collection center for nonproliferation information based on signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT). This office accumulates and organizes information that is processed and analyzed by the DIA or the CIA.

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) helps to monitor the existence of nuclear missiles, facilities and laboratories by managing the space based satellites and other technological assets of the US intelligence community. The NRO gathers the combination of imagery intelligence (IMINT), SIGINT, and MASINT that monitors nuclear nonproliferation.

Department of State (DoS): The Department of State Office of Intelligence Research (INR) provides the Secretary of State with information through all-source, independent analysis that addresses the political, economic and security issues surrounding the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Through diplomatic reporting, the DoS is one of the major sources of HUMINT for the IC. The Office of Political Military Affairs serves as the US Government's conduit for information going to and from the IAEA. In addition, DoS along with the Department of Commerce and the CIA regulates the international flow of nuclear material, munitions items (i.e. weapon systems and missiles) and related technology through export controls.

Department of Commerce (DoC): The Department of Commerce regulates the export of dual-use items under the Export Administration Act. Nuclear related exports are controlled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the DoE, the DoC in coordination with DoS, DoD and ACDA. By Presidential order, the Departments of Commerce and energy jointly develop and maintain a list of such export items known as the Nuclear Referral List. While the DoC is primarily responsible for granting exemptions to particular export controls, CIA and the NSA have referral monitoring status over all DoC export control mechanisms and can veto any decision made by the DoC on security grounds.

Department of the Treasury: The Department of the Treasury regulates the transportation of direct and dual-use nuclear material in the export control arena. The Treasury Department mainly relies upon the Customs Service and its international enforcement divisions to support US nonproliferation policy. The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 allocates funding for the Customs Service to create new technology to detect WMD technology in exports.

Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Office of the Department of Justice (DoJ): The FBI and the Attorney General help coordinate nonproliferation intelligence efforts with US and international law enforcement agencies and counter-terrorism efforts. Coordination between the FBI and the IC is often not as good as it should be.

C. US Intelligence and Coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Critical to the success of US nonproliferation policy is the effective operation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Created as an organization affiliated with the United Nations in 1956 to "accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world," the IAEA took on new responsibilities with the ratification of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. Since 1970, the IAEA has been charged with enforcing international safeguards and determining the nuclear capabilities of individual nations. These safeguards provide international verification and surveillance to insure that international nuclear energy supplies remain secure and that violations of the NPT are deterred and detected.

Just as the US intelligence community was shaken by the discovery of Iraq's advanced nuclear program in 1991, the problems inherent in the IAEA safeguards mechanism were exposed to the international community. Like many international organizations, the IAEA relies almost exclusively on information provided by the inspected states. While the IAEA does have legal authority to conduct its own independent inspections, it has enormous difficulty investigating sites that a host state desires to shield from public view. Indeed, under current IAEA regulations safeguards it is difficult, if not impossible to detect the nuclear capability of a nation that explicitly wants to conceal it.

Since the Persian Gulf War, the IAEA relies more and more upon intelligence agencies around the world for information and the IAEA has expressed a desire to begin monitoring international export controls. However, the IAEA was never really equipped with the tools necessary to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War nuclear proliferation realities. According to Marlene O'Dell, a public spokesperson for the IAEA New York City office, when monitoring the North Korean nuclear capacities, the IAEA relied very heavily on US intelligence to determine which sites to inspect.

Moreover, the IAEA has moved forward to expand its own authority through its "Programme 93 + 2." The IAEA has worked to: 1) increase international transparency measures; 2) increase the use of individual state systems of control and accounting (SSACs); 3) increase the frequency of "anytime inspections;" 4) strengthen information analysis; and 5) expand the training of inspectors. Virtually all of these goals will greatly strengthen the IAEA safeguards, but will force the organization to rely much more heavily on the US intelligence community for support in identifying key areas for future targeting.

III. Current Intelligence Support of Nonproliferation Policy Initiatives

A. Transparency and Accountability

Intelligence has been enormously effective in supporting current policy and international agreements. Since the principal risk to international security is less a deliberate attack than the possible loss of control over fissile material, it is absolutely essential for intelligence to help the policy community manage and control the security of nuclear weapons themselves, and the plutonium and HEU needed to make them.

At their January 1994 Summit, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to establish a joint working group to monitor the "transparency and irreversibility of the process of reduction of nuclear weapons" and to expand cooperative efforts to improve security at Russian nuclear capabilities. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin signed an agreement in June 1994 cutting off production of all weapons grade plutonium. In September of that year, both Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton agreed to report to each other exactly how many nuclear warheads and how much fissile material each side maintains.

Undoubtedly, this US-Russian Openness program, or the "Mutual Reciprocal Inspection" program has granted intelligence agencies greater access to nuclear information and has permitted the US to assist the Russians in developing better security measures for all of their nuclear material. The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC) has been charged with working with Russian and American intelligence to verify the existence and security of nuclear weapons and fissile material in the former Soviet Union. When these systems are combined with the "Nunn-Lugar" and "Lab-to-Lab" initiatives, Russian nuclear fissile material is becoming more secure and the prospects for nuclear smuggling are diminishing.

However, despite these agreements, there are practical limits on these cooperative efforts and the GCC has often run up against a brick wall. The Russians are not always willing to release information about the amount or location of their fissile material and have not been overly cooperative in providing information relating to the security of their nuclear stockpile.

B. Export Controls

Export controls constitute another essential element of US attempts to monitor nonproliferation. Essentially, the spread of scientific and technical know-how is at the crux of the nonproliferation problem. Technological advances have facilitated weapons design and the problem of dual-use technologies has become exceedingly more complex. The United States is a member of all the nuclear nonproliferation export control regimes: the Missile Technology Control Regime (of which the US is the founder), controlling missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction; the Nuclear Suppliers Group for nuclear and dual-use equipment and related technologies; and the Zanagger Committee, also for nuclear supplies. Each of these organizations coordinate the controls of member states on the exports of equipment that has particular use in nuclear development.

Although the international community has greatly improved export controls over the last few years, intelligence needs to play a larger role in monitoring and uncovering hidden supply lines in order to stop key materials and technologies from reaching countries of proliferation concern. The deterioration of security control measures on the southern flank of Russia (the border with Kazakhstan), the availability of dual-use material, and the weakening of export controls by the US through the expansion of trade have increased the challenge of controlling proliferation. A much greater emphasis must be placed on developing the analytical resources in the IC to strengthen international export control security.

C. Counter-proliferation

The policy of "counter-proliferation" was formally announced by the Pentagon in 1993. Counter-proliferation refers to activities where the United States carries out an overt military strike against the production facilities, weapons laboratories, atomic power plants or the weapons caches where a nation's nuclear capabilities are developed. Some examples of this approach were employed with the Israeli destruction of French built critical reactor cores before their shipment to Iraq in 1979, the Israeli bombing of an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981 and some of the US strikes against a range of targeted sites in Iraq during the Gulf War.

Although counter-proliferation seeks to destroy a nation's nuclear ambitions, by sheer force, history has demonstrated that this approach merely slows the rate at which a nation develops a nuclear weapon, and does not eliminate the threat. In some cases like Iraq, the combined effect may yield more problems than it solves by strengthening the national determination to create a nuclear weapon.

IV. How Well Does US Nonproliferation Intelligence Meet Consumer Needs and How Coordinated are the Intelligence and Policy Communities on Nonproliferation?

Intelligence producer-consumer relations have improved substantially since the Persian Gulf War. In many intelligence agencies, intelligence officers are assigned to cover a particular office or policy maker. By sitting in on policy staff meetings and luncheons, intelligence analysts gain a broader understanding of exactly which decisions policy makers will be involved in, and accordingly, this relationship allows intelligence to serve the policy community better.

Since 1991, the US government has greatly increased the resources targeted at combating nuclear nonproliferation. However, because so many more federal agencies have gotten involved in nonproliferation, strong interagency coordination has become critical to the overall success of nonproliferation policy. While intelligence has been very successful at increasing the collection of information, it has not been so successful at coordinating the analysis of this intelligence.

Although L. Britt Snider, the General Counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, believes that the IC's management of nonproliferation information is perhaps the "most effective" area of current intelligence efforts, most policy makers and intelligence experts agree that much needs to be done to improve inter-agency coordination on this crucial issue. Although the NPC has improved analysis of information, it has not lived up to its goal of becoming a "coordinating mechanism" for the IC, and has failed to attract senior analysts from agencies outside the CIA. Currently, no single organization or person in the US government structure, has the authority, resources, or the time needed, to coordinate nonproliferation policy and intelligence efforts and there clearly needs to be greater accountability at the highest levels of the intelligence and policy communities.

V. Recommendations

Through the creation of the Nonproliferation Center (NPC) in the CIA, reorganization of the DoE's intelligence management, and expanded interaction between the intelligence and policy communities, the United States has worked to improve nonproliferation intelligence capabilities. However, to insure that the United States IC is well prepared to face future challenges, much needs to be done to improve governmental accountability and strengthen inter-agency coordination in the nonproliferation arena. Accordingly, the President and the intelligence community should work to adopt the following recommendations:

The President should strengthen the authority of the National Nonproliferation Coordinator and the National Security Council Committee on Nonproliferation to coordinate US Nonproliferation efforts

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 directs the President to appoint a national coordinator on nonproliferation with the responsibility to advise the President on nonproliferation and related issues regarding terrorism and international organized crime. The provision also establishes a committee on nonproliferation, to be chaired by the coordinator, and composed of members of the Executive branch who have responsibilities for crisis and consequence management, nonproliferation and related issues (please see Figure 5 in Appendix).

While President Clinton is in the process of selecting this coordinator and appointing the members of the new NSC nonproliferation committee, it is absolutely critical that this national coordinator be incorporated into the formal NSC structure and be given the budgetary and personnel authority to be able to direct US nonproliferation activities. Ideally, the coordinator should be accountable to the National Security Advisor and have the means to mobilize all the offices of the NSC. Also, the NSC Nonproliferation committee should assist the coordinator and should include the following members, or their designated appointees: 1) Secretary of Defense, 2) Secretary of State, 3) Secretary of Energy, 4) Secretary of Commerce, 5) Secretary of Treasury, 6) Attorney General, 7) Director of the CIA, 8) Director of ACDA, and the 9) Director of FEMA.

This could provide an effective means to ensure that the United States maintains a fully coordinated apparatus for dealing with nonproliferation is to give the national coordinator strong authority over the NSC and the IC. Under the current arrangement, the Director of the NSC Office of Nonproliferation and Export Controls does not have the time nor authority to really coordinate the government's efforts in this area. Furthermore, the NSC Nonproliferation committee must be composed of the highest possible officials to insure full interagency cooperation throughout the Executive Branch. However, such an arrangement can only be effective to the extent nonproliferation remains a priority for the President and other senior policy makers.

The CIA's NPC must include a greater number of analysts from agencies and departments outside the CIA

Although the creation of the NPC has increased the number of financial and human resources devoted to nonproliferation monitoring, it has not been so effective at improving coordination among the agencies of the IC. The NPC has had trouble attracting people from outside the CIA to join the center, and the NPC is viewed by many experts as a creature of the CIA. Greater effort must be made to increase the number of analysis from DoE, DoD (especially from DIA, NSA, NRO), DoS, ACDA, and the ACIS, DoC, Treasury, FBI, and DoJ. Each of these agencies should have several senior analysts working at the NPC to ensure that the NPC fulfills its major function as an intelligence coordination mechanism.

Develop a new position of "National Intelligence Officer for Nonproliferation" to centralize the drafting of nonproliferation national intelligence estimates on the National Intelligence Council

Nonproliferation estimates on the NIC are currently divided among three different NIOs on the NIC. There is really no one individual in the IC who can be identified as the expert on nonproliferation issues. By centralizing nonproliferation estimates to the duties of one person on the council, the IC will be better able to focus attention on issues relating to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This NIO would be the chief person in the IC on nonproliferation and would supervise the Director of the NPC. This new position would definitely help coordinate information and would increase accountability in the IC on this issue.

Improve the quality of finished Intelligence Products relating to nonproliferation :

Since nonproliferation is such a technical field, it is enormously important for there to be excellent cooperation between the nuclear experts at the DoE laboratories and the CIA analysts when drafting reports for the policy community. Without input from DoE CIA reports risk lacking technical depth, and without input from the CIA analysts, DoE reports tend to be dated. Unfortunately, some experts in the policy community believe that this interaction is not as strong as it needs to be. According to Gary Samore, the President's Senior Director for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls "there has been friction between the CIA as an institution and the DoE as an institution and there have not been good cross- currents between the two agencies which means that the product is not as good as it should be." A much greater effort needs to be made in the IC to combat this problem to ensure that policy makers get the best possible products.

Increase the role of HUMINT in gathering nonproliferation information

The technological reconnaissance that kept track of the Soviet nuclear arsenal so well is not so effective in monitoring nuclear smuggling, determining the security of fissile material or assessing whether or not nuclear scientists are earning a decent living. While there are greater intelligence risks involved in Human Intelligence, the post-Cold War era requires intelligence officers to ask questions that really can't be answered by technical means.

Continue to expand use of the Proliferation Information Network Service (PINS) throughout the intelligence and policy communities

The IC should expand usage of the DoE's PINS to help intelligence analysts and policy makers keep abreast of all the reports and information produced by the intelligence community. PINS should be linked up with a computer-based, information network to help coordinate information between the intelligence "collection stovepipes" (i.e. INTELINK) and the other agencies of the IC. Had such a system been in place in 1991, the United States and the world might have avoided the entire Iraqi intelligence "failure."

Continue to Improve information analysis of open-source materials relating to nuclear nonproliferation issues

Although technology and clandestine intelligence activities are still the most effective means of evaluating the nuclear capabilities of other nations, the "transparency agreements" binding on the US and the former Soviet Union have created an explosion of information from the academic community. Many American professors and scientists work right along side Russian scientists and can often produce information that is just as detailed and useful to the national security community as clandestine intelligence material.

Continue to increase informal US intelligence support of IAEA efforts

Currently, it is very difficult for the IAEA to collect information on foreign clandestine development of nuclear weapons; the agency has virtually no intelligence production tools of its own and must rely solely on the good will of international intelligence agencies and Nonproliferation Treaty member nations. If the IAEA is going to inspect and enforce nuclear safeguards effectively, it must have the information to track the development of nuclear programs. With approval from the State Department, the United States should provide intelligence support to the IAEA to the greatest possible extent without compromising American intelligence methods or upsetting the delicate international balance of the IAEA.

Charge the New Congressional Nonproliferation Commission to focus on:

The Intelligence Authorization Act of 1997 established a Commission to Assess the Organization and Structure of the Government for Combating Proliferation. The commission needs to insure that under the current intelligence structure US policy makers are "fully and currently informed" on how well US nonproliferation efforts are coordinated. Also, the commission must seriously focus on ways of better monitoring international export controls and the security of weapons grade material. Tracking the movement and security of nuclear materials is extremely difficult to monitor and is one of the weakest aspects of US intelligence monitoring. The commission should consider creating a specialized office in the NPC to coordinate export control information, and monitor supply routes for weapons grade material. For its own part, Congress should streamline its own committee structure to reduce the "out of control and insatiable demands" of the Legislative branch on the IC with regards to nonproliferation information.


While the end of the Cold War has left the world with unprecedented opportunities for peace and international cooperation, it has also led to a great deal of instability, uncertainty and danger. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has emerged as the single most dangerous threat to international security and the interests of the United States. In this era of uncertainty and emerging threats, the importance of maintaining a strong coordinated intelligence approach is more important now than it has ever been before. While there is considerable disagreement within the policy and intelligence communities on the effectiveness of current nonproliferation intelligence management, most senior officials would agree that there is definitely a need for improved inter-agency coordination and strengthened accountability. The recommendations I have included in this report are designed to link together the already strong nonproliferation components of the intelligence and policy communities, in a way that mobilizes the entire US government to deal with all aspects of this threat in a more effective manner. As the nation continues to adapt to the changing nature of the post-Cold War era, the intelligence community must be better coordinated, organized and prepared to navigate the uncertain seas that lie ahead in the area of nuclear nonproliferation.




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Osborn, Carolyn. Executive Assistant to the Special Assistant to the DCI for Nonproliferation (the Director of the CIA Nonproliferation Center). Telephone interview. November 4, 1996.

Reiss, Mitchell. Senior Policy Advisor to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). Personal interview. Princeton, New Jersey, October 14, 1996.

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