(Aspin says end of Cold War increases danger)  (630)

By Bruce Carey

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- The United States needs a more aggressive approach -- one of

"counter-proliferation" -- to implement President Clinton's policy against

the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Defense Secretary Aspin says.

Last September Clinton told the U.N. General Assembly that "one of our most

urgent priorities must be attacking the proliferation of weapons of mass

1estruction, whether they are nuclear, chemical or biological."

Reiterating that policy December 7 in a speech to the National Academy of

Sciences in Washington, Aspin warned that "we are in a new era" in which

the threat posed by such weaponry is even greater.

"The old danger we faced was thousands of warheads in the Soviet Union.  The

new nuclear danger we face is perhaps a handful of devices in the hands of

rogue states or even terrorist groups," he said.

Aspin noted that a policy of deterrence, arms control and prevention of

weapons spread worked well during the Cold War.  But he added that now "we

face the potential of a greatly increased proliferation problem" because of

the breakup of the Soviet Union and the spread of technology that can

unleash weapons of mass destruction.

"We've undertaken a new mission," he said.  "We've recognized a new problem

and we're acting to meet it with counter-proliferation."

Several dangers combine to make the world even more dangerous than before,

he said: four former Soviet nuclear states replacing the old Soviet Union,

Soviet nuclear materials or technology finding their way to the black

market, weapons expertise for hire going to proliferators, and

irresponsible states formerly under Soviet influence -- such as North Korea

-- pressing their own weapons programs.

Further, said Aspin, the world economy fosters the spread of technology,

which will make it harder to "detect illicit versions of materials and

technology useful for weapons development."

"We face a bigger proliferation danger than we've ever faced before," Aspin

said, adding that "a policy of prevention through denial won't be enough.

And its not just nuclear weapons.  All the potential threat nations are at

least capable of producing biological and chemical agents."

He said the new initiative takes a five-point approach:

-- making it clear to all parties that a new aggressive policy is in place;

-- purchasing military ordnance that can better locate and destroy weapons

of mass destruction;

-- developing new strategies to deal with adversaries who possess such


-- obtaining better intelligence on the programs and arsenals of

irresponsible states; and

-- coordinating international cooperation against the spread of such


The initiative promotes consensus on the gravity of the threat, reduces the

military utility of weapons of mass destruction, keeps up the price of such

weapons to cut demand, and reduces the vulnerability of potential victims

of such weapons, the secretary said.

Aspin praised the passage of the Nunn-Lugar amendment by Congress, which

provides U.S. money and expertise to help former Soviet states rid

themselves of the burden of Soviet arsenals.

He reiterated that the United States seeks clarification of the

Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) so that it can proceed to set up a

regional defense against a few ballistic missiles that may be fired by

irresponsible states or terrorists.

Earlier at the Pentagon, a senior Defense Department official predicted that

the use or potential use of weapons of mass destruction by such entities

"is an issue that will arise."


Regarding the unexpectedly advanced level of Iraq's nuclear program

discovered after the Gulf War, the official said, "We don't want to face

those surprises again."  In summary of the new policy, he told reporters:

"if you can't prevent, you have to protect."