FILE ID:951101




(Article on 11/1 Senate Investigations Subcommittee hearing) (570)

By Peggy Hu

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- U.S. administration officials emphasized the need for a

global approach to controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass

destruction (WMD) at a November 1 hearing before the Senate Government

Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

"Since the 1960s, when the U.S. sponsored the Treaty on the

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), this country has

recognized that proliferation is a global problem and that combating

it requires high levels of international cooperation," said Gordon

Oehler, director of the Central Intelligence Agency's Nonproliferation


"Curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction among Third World

countries and their acquisition by terrorist groups will require the

continuation of an aggressive and cooperative international effort,"

Oehler said.

According to Oehler, the United States and other countries concerned

about weapons proliferation have focused on a four-part strategy to

control it: prevent countries from acquiring WMD through export

controls, sanctions against suppliers, and -- in extreme cases --

military action; adapt military forces and emergency assets to respond

to threats; offer incentives such as financial or technical assistance

to persuade countries to stop development of WMD; and establish arms

control arrangements such as political accommodations, economic

measures, and military confidence-building measures to reduce the

security threats used to justify WMD acquisition.

The United States also works closely with other countries to gather

intelligence on possible WMD proliferation programs, Oehler said.

Current initiatives include developing new technologies to detect

chemical and biological weapons; developing a list of collection

indicators to alert collectors and analysts prior to use of chemical

and biological weapons; and working more closely with other

governments and with U.S. law enforcement for early detection of WMD

programs, he said.

The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), ratified by 137 countries,

prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, or transfer of

biological agents and weapons and mandates the destruction of all

existing stocks. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) bans the use,

development, storage, or transfer of chemical warfare agents and their

associated technology and requires States Parties to enact national

legislation to control and monitor the export of some dual-use


The CWC will enter into force 180 days after ratification by the 65th

country, Oehler said. So far 40 countries have ratified the CWC.

H. Allen Holmes, assistant secretary of defense for special operations

and low intensity conflict, said that the United States is working

closely with other nations on a bilateral and multilateral basis to

halt and/or prevent WMD proliferation.

"U.S. government policy is directed toward stemming chemical and

biological weapons proliferation," Holmes said. "We have identified

key chemical precursors, biological pathogens, and nuclear materials

used in development of these weapons, and are using those precursors

to establish databases to monitor, deter, and if necessary take action

against those states or groups involved in chemical or biological

weapons development."

Holmes noted that "there remain many technical challenges in

responding to the use of chemical and biological weapons" but that

agencies involved with combating terrorism are "working hard each day

to solve those challenges."

U.S. agencies, he said, are "making every effort to enlist the aid of

our allies and other nations to coordinate response capabilities for

incidents involving weapons of mass destruction."