current and projected national security Threats
Hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
February 5, 2008
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: This hearing will come to order. I would severely hope that there would be a couple other members. I think it would be courteous and in their interest and in the national interest if several of our members showed up. If they're a few minutes late, that's okay. If they don't show up, that's not so okay. And we might have something more to say about that.
In any event, we're presented with the full array of our national intelligence structure. And the intelligence community (sic) meets to hear from this community, intelligence community, about security threats facing our nation. It is appropriate that we begin this annual threat hearing and that we do it in public. We do it every year. Sometimes they've gone on for a long time. And what we've done this is time is to ask each of you, with the exception of the director, to hold your comments to five minutes, which will be very interesting in the case of the CIA, to see if that can actually be done. (Laughter.)
But anyway, you're the folks that keep us safe. We in Congress authorize and appropriate funds for what you do. The American people have a right to know where our resources are going insofar as that's appropriate, what intelligence officials consider to be the greatest threats, and what actions our government is taking to prevent those threats.
And as we've learned many times, our intelligence programs will only be successful if the American people are informed. It's a relative statement, but they have to feel that they're a part of this equation, and that's what helps us get appropriations and gets bills passed, hopefully, and makes the process work.
Today the committee will want to hear how our intelligence community assesses the immediate threats from terrorist organizations. We do that each year, starting with the continued threat posed by al Qaeda. I believe this threat has actually grown substantially since last year's threat review. I'll be interested if you agree, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I hope to focus closely on that threat hearings -- in today's hearings and throughout the year. It'll be part of the vice chairman's and my schedule throughout the year.
As you know, al Qaeda's war against the United States did not start on September 11. It started before that and did not end on that tragic day. Since that time our intelligence agencies have been successful in identifying and preventing new al Qaeda attacks in this country, most of which cannot be discussed publicly. But progress has been mixed. And unfortunately, many of our government's policies have, in fact, hindered our counterterrorism activities.
After 9/11 the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. and coalition forces drove the Taliban from power, had Osama bin Laden on the run, and was on the verge of depriving al Qaeda of the very sanctuary that it needs in order to plot and carry out its murderous designs. Then the focus of America's military forces and intelligence resources were mistakenly shifted from delivering a decisive blow against al Qaeda, which is the enemy. Instead these resources were diverted to the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and one can have arguments about that.
Now, six and a half years later after the 9/11 attack, bin Laden remains at large. That is a source of embarrassment and concern to all of you. And al Qaeda operates in a terrorist safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border from which it trains and directs terrorist cells, perhaps with more confidence than ever.
Al Qaeda has used this border safe haven to reconstitute itself and launch offensive operations that threaten to undo the stability of Afghanistan and undermine, if not overthrow, the Pakistan government. And tragically, like before 9/11, al Qaeda was once again secured a base of operation from which to plot and direct attacks against the United States.
Unfortunately, our continued military occupation of Iraq compounds the counterterrorism challenge that we face as it is used for terrorist propaganda purposes to fuel the recruitment of Islamic jihadists. As evidenced by the Madrid and London bombings, violent extremism is spreading at an alarming rate and making inroads into disaffected populations in Europe and elsewhere. That seems to continue to grow.
All of this leads to some tough but necessary questions for our witnesses. Why has al Qaeda been allowed to reconstitute a terrorist sanctuary along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border from which to threaten the stability of the region and plot against the United States? How is the threat posed by this al Qaeda safe haven different from the one that al Qaeda benefited from prior to 9/11?
How have the terrorist threats facing the governments in Kabul and Islamabad changed in the past year? And how willing and capable are those governments to go after al Qaeda within their own borders?
Are the United States and its allies losing the war of ideas to the virulent message of the terrorists? Does the continued existence and operation of a separate CIA system of -- for terrorists employing secret interrogation techniques undermined our moral standing and the willingness of other countries to cooperate with us?
Is our continued military presence in Iraq generating more terrorists and more Islamic radicals around the world than we are capturing or that we are killing?
Since last year's world-wide threat review, another thousand American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, not to speak of those who have been wounded, externally and internally. Polls consistently show that a large number of Iraqis oppose the presence of coalition forces. That doesn't seem to deter us. The committee has ongoing scrutiny of intelligence on Iraq, and that will continue -- mostly in classified sessions -- but the public needs to know whether intelligence perceive that Iraq is moving towards the kind of political reconciliation that was the objective of the U.S. surge in the first place and of the whole effort in the first place. Is it happening?
Going beyond the war and terrorist threats of today, the committee is particularly concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology and the threat posed to our security by those who possess them and those who may possess them in the future. I'm particularly concerned about the security and safeguard of weapons and fissile material in Russia and states of the former Soviet Union. This is something I have expressed concern about for several years, and many of us have, and something our government must address but is not putting up the money to address. But potential threat to our homelands are not just about al Qaeda and nuclear proliferation. Threats can come in unfamiliar ways. And because our society is very complex, we are vulnerable to threats that we may not fully appreciate.
In this regard, I'm very concerned about the potential of cyberattacks that have already been executed and our ability to protect our critical infrastructure, that this is something that we have discussed before. Cybersecurity is a growing subject of importance that will be addressed by the committee in detail intensely in the coming weeks.
Climate change also poses a long-term threat to us, in all ways that we are only beginning to understand. More attention needs to be paid to it, and I'm extremely gratified that the intelligence community is grappling seriously with the issue. We eagerly await the National Intelligence Council's assessment of the national security impact of climate change due out this spring.
Before introducing the witnesses who are sitting in front of us, I want to pay tribute to a large number of anonymous heroes who are risking their lives abroad or working long hours in headquarters to collect the intelligence and provide the analysis on which your testimony today is based. We have the rare privilege in this committee of seeing what most of the public does not. We are constantly impressed with the dedication and the professionalism of the intelligence officials that we encounter. Americans can be proud of the men and women of the U.S. intelligence community. Indeed, our occasional and, I hope, constructive criticisms are a measure of the high standards that we routinely expect.
Now let me introduce the distinguished witnesses before us today, and then I will turn to the distinguished vice chairman. And they will speak in this order, please. Admiral Michael McConnell, director of National Intelligence; General Mike Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Mr. Randall Fort, assistant secretary of State for Intelligence Research; Mr. Robert Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Lieutenant General Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
It's worth noting that Director McConnell's remarks have been coordinated with his intelligence colleagues, who will nonetheless have a chance to offer their own comments after his statement.
I believe that this procedure and format is not only symbolically important, it gives real meaning to the structural reforms that were instituted under the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act. We now have a DNI who authentically represents and oversees the 16 intelligence agencies, but who does so without suppressing their individual perspectives or eliminating their necessary independence.
I now turn to Vice Chairman Bond.
CHRISTOPHER BOND (R-MO): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Appreciate you
holding this hearing. And as always, it's a very sobering reminder, to all of us
in public, the kinds of threats our nation faces and our men and women abroad,
military and civilian, face. We need to know about this. Obviously we discuss
much of it in the classified hearings, but this gives us an opportunity to lay
out what you see as the challenges.
Lots of change since last year's worldwide threat. Everybody was saying that the situation in Iraq was grave, and we were looking to failure. Now, a year after the surge, and most importantly General Petraeus's leadership in adopting a counterinsurgency strategy to clear, hold and build, we're seeing marked changes. And American military men and women are coming home, returning on success which is, I believe, the right way for them to return.
We're not out of the woods yet. We are continuing to train and equip the military and security forces. Our goal must be to establish a reasonably secure and stable Iraq, from which the Iraqis can develop their own system of government. That stability and security is necessary to prevent them from falling into chaos, genocide, potentially regionwide civil war and giving a real safe haven to al Qaeda, which they do not have in the mountain caves where they must reside now.
I think it's fitting to remember that David Kay and his Iraq Survey Group said, after they went in and examined some of the intelligence failures, that Iraq was a far more dangerous place even than we knew, because of the terrorists running wild, the chaos in that country and the ability to provide weapons of mass destruction. We do realize that we must maintain that commitment there, but we are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan. The security situation has deteriorated, and we are adding 3,000 additional Marines.
It would be very helpful if our NATO allies lived up to their commitments. The failure of the NATO allies to do their jobs or to send over troops who care to go in harm's way, well, that's nice. The business of sending troops is to send them into dangerous places to pacify them.
Decades of civil war and other was have devastated Afghanistan. But it appears, and I'd be happy -- I'm looking forward to hearing your view that Afghanistan is past the tipping point, where the Taliban and their terrorist allies are not going to take the country back; they will continue to kill, maim and destroy.
But we can't afford to ignore situations in other parts of the world. And I will look forward to hearing about national threats in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, the Chinese military power, instability in Africa.
I want to emphasize one item that the chairman said: that we need to look at how we're winning the hearts and minds -- something I believe that's very important, something that should be done primarily by the State Department, by other agencies of government.
But I commend the U.S. Army, which has done an excellent job in showing how clear, hold and build works in the Mindanao, southern Philippines region. I'm proud to say that a Missouri National Guard unit is deploying to Afghanistan with agricultural specialists to bring modern agricultural techniques. These are the kinds of things that we must be doing to help those countries which are on the verge of either opting for democracy, human rights and free markets, or going the terrorist route.
Congressional oversight obviously is our part of the job. We have reviewed the failures before 9/11. And I would say that we have made tremendous progress, and I believe, Mr. Chairman, that this distinguished group of leaders that we have before us today is the finest working team that the intelligence community or any intelligence community has had. Now we just need to make sure that everybody's playing on the team.
I was not a supporter of the intelligence reform, because while I thought it was a good idea, I thought we gave the DNI all kinds of responsibility and too little authority. But the director has shown positive leadership, management and oversight, and next week we look forward to receiving a report from him on a list of legislative recommendations for intelligence reform, particularly how we can make -- how we can ensure in statute that the working relationships that have been developed because of the great cooperation among the people at this table and your top leaders in your agency have been able to achieve.
Another area of congressional oversight obviously is the FISA amendments, which are on the floor. And the chairman and I are delighted to be able to take a few hours off and talk with you. We believe that the bipartisan bill that the Senate Intelligence Committee passed, with the two changes which we have worked out with your experts, are the best way to go.
Another important reform issue is something I've been very much concerned on, and that's the leaking of intelligence, and our most sensitive means of collection appear in the papers. I believe General Hayden said in his confirmation hearings in 2006 -- when I asked him about the collection of intelligence, I think he said it's almost Darwinian. The more we put out there, the more we're going to kill and capture only the dumb terrorists. And that is a frightening thing.
Obviously a strong free press is important safeguard. We must, however, deal with those government officials who for their own personal ends, either profit or notoriety, leak information. The irresponsible officials have provided far too much sensitive classified information, and I think, as we see more and more of them in orange jumpsuits, there will be a much greater disincentive to share that information.
I -- obviously the journalists will have to make up their minds as -- what they want to cover, but I would just urge my friends and colleagues in the fourth estate, if an irresponsible bureaucrat somewhere in the operation tells you the intelligence community has detected an event in county X -- in country X, and he tells you how the community detected the event, and you feel you must print the story, consider leaving the details of the how out.
That's really interesting only to a very select few, but primarily the terrorists and those who need to know how we get our information, not as much what.
Finally, on analysis, I believe we have to take a continued look at the analytical process. I think we have a long ways to go. As I've indicated, I thought the Iran NIE was very disappointing, not because of what it said, not because of the fact that they had -- that the -- that significant new information had been discovered, but how it was said and how it was used for public release. I don't believe that NIEs should be used as political footballs, which they've become. I think they should be confidential assessments for policymakers in the intelligence community, the military, the executive branch and Congress.
The main news in the NIE was the confirmation that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, not that it had halted it temporarily, for all we know, in 2003. And other sources say they question that. But -- and some believe they've restarted it. But the NIE offered no confidence in any intelligence on that, besides stating with moderate confidence that it had not restarted last summer. The French Defense minister said publicly that he believes the program has restarted. Now if our government comes to that assessment, then we have set ourselves up to have -- release another NIE, or leak intelligence, because this last one was given a false sense of security. Once we start announcing the NIEs, we may have to change them if the situation changes.
I think that to put it in summary, the NIE as released put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. It should have stated that this was a confirmation. We have information that one aspect -- one aspect, the weaponization programs -- was shut down, but the long pole in the tent, the nuclear enrichment, had not. So that's my humble suggestion, that the next NIE be reviewed to see what is really important in -- for the broader intelligence community efforts.
We will do everything we can in Congress to help the intelligence community get the information and the support you need and the resources, but we -- and we look forward to being able to work in a nonpartisan manner. And we continue to expect that the community fulfill its responsibility when it provides us intelligence in a nonpolitical manner.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses. They are, as I said, Mr. Chairman, some of the best minds in the business.
SEN ROCKEFELLER: They are indeed, and they will start with Director McConnell, for 20 minutes.
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I want to be very clear in addressing Iran's nuclear capability. First, there are three parts to an effective nuclear weapons capability.
First is the production of fissile material; second, effective means for weapons delivery, such as ballistic missile systems; and thirdly is the design and weaponization of the warhead itself. We assess in our recent National Intelligence Estimate that warhead design and weaponization work was halted, along with a covert military effort to produce fissile material. However, Iran's declared uranium enrichment efforts that will enable the production of fissile material continues.
Production of fissile material is the most difficult challenge in the nuclear weapons production cycle. Also, as in the past, Iran continues its effort to perfect ballistic missiles that can reach both North Africa and Europe. Therefore, we remain concerned about Iran as a potential nuclear weapons threat.
The earliest possible date Iran could technically be capable of producing enough fissile material for a weapon is late 2009, but we judge that to be unlikely. As our estimate makes clear, Tehran halted their nuclear weapons design-related activities in response to international pressure, but is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. If Iran's nuclear weapons design program has already been reactivated or will be reactivated, it will be a closely guarded secret in an attempt to keep us from being aware of its true status. The Iranians till this point have never admitted the secret nuclear weapons design program which was halted in 2003.
Iran also remains a threat to regional stability and to U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. This is because of its continued support for violent groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and its efforts to undercut pro-Western actors such as those in Lebanon. Iran is pursuing a policy intending to raise the political, economic and human costs of any arrangement that would allow the United States to maintain presence and influence in that region.
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SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thank you, Director Mueller.
GEN. MAPLES: Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman Bond, members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today and to represent the dedicated men and women of Defense Intelligence. And thank you for your comments about their service. My short remarks will focus on changes in military operations and capabilities.
There are several general global military trends that are of concern, including proliferation of the knowledge and technology required to produce weapons of mass destruction, longer-range ballistic missiles that are more mobile and accurate, improvised devices and suicide weapons as weapons of choice, and the continued development of counter space-and-cyber capabilities.
In Iraq, an improved security situation has resulted from coalition and Iraqi operations, tribal security initiatives, concerned local citizen groups and the Jaish al Mahdi freeze order. While encouraging, the trends are not yet irreversible. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been damaged but it still attempts to reignite sectarian violence, and remains able to conduct high-profile attacks.
We have seen a decline in the movement of foreign terrorists into Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Qods Force, continues to provide training and support, and DIA has not yet seen evidence that Iran has ended lethal aid. Iraqi security forces, while reliant on coalition combat service support, have improved their overall capabilities and are increasingly leading counterinsurgency cooperations.
In Afghanistan, ISAF's successes have inflicted losses on Taliban leadership and prevented the Taliban from conducting sustained conventional operations. Despite their losses, the Taliban maintains access to local Pashtun and some foreign fighters, and is using suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices and small arms to increase attack levels. While the insurgency remains concentrated in the Pashtun-dominated South and East, it has expanded to some western areas. The Afghan army has fielded 11 of 14 infantry brigades, and more than one-third of Afghanistan's combat arms battalions are assessed as capable of leading operations with coalition support.
We believe that al Qaeda has expanded it support to the Afghan insurgency and presents an increased threat to Pakistan, while it continues to plan, support and direct transnational attacks. Al Qaeda has extended its operational reach through partnerships with compatible regional terrorist groups, including a continued effort to expand into Africa. Al Qaeda maintains its desire to possess weapons of mass destruction.
Pakistani military operations in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas have had limited effect on al Qaeda. However, Pakistan recognizes the threat and realizes the need to develop more effective counterinsurgency capabilities to complement their conventional military. At present, we have confidence in Pakistan's ability to safeguard its nuclear weapons.
Iran is acquiring advanced weapons systems and supporting terrorist proxies. New capabilities include missile patrol boats, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and an extended range variant of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile. Iran is close to acquiring long-range SA-20 SAMs, and is developing a new Ashoura medium-range ballistic missile. Lebanese Hezbollah continues to receive weapons, training and resources from Iran.
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SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Thank you.
Director McConnell, recently -- in fact, today -- a prominent acolyte of the Bush administration on foreign policy and intelligence matters has described your national intelligence estimates as politicized and policy-oriented. He describes them as of sufficient demerit that they put the intelligence community's credibility and impartiality on the line. He says that the NIE was distorted; that in order for it to be objective, it would have to be rewritten; that it involves sleight of hand and grossly mischaracterizes the subject at hand; and that is infected with policy bias as the result of the work of policy enthusiasts within the intelligence community.
Obviously, the entire discussion we've had today is of very little value or significance if the underlying intelligence estimate process is corrupted either by policy bias or distortion, or gross mischaracterization, or politicization.
Would you care to comment? Because it sort of had been my impression that we were in recovery from that and not in that state. But, I think it would be worth it to hear your views on where the integrity of the intelligence community stands at this point, and specifically with regard to this NIE.
MR. MCCONNELL: Sir, I'd start by saying that the integrity and the professionalism in this NIE is probably the highest in our history in terms of objectivity, and quality of the analysis, and challenging the assumptions, and conducting red teams on the process, conducting a counterintelligence assessment about were we being misled or so on.
So I would start by saying that the article you refer to is a gross misrepresentation of the professionalism of this community now. From there I would say, depending on one's political perspective, you can pick up what this NIE has to say from different points of view. And I can also report that both sides are angry with how we represented this NIE. Therefore we probably got it about right.
Here was the issue. In the history of NIEs, there have been very, very few -- I think I could number on one hand -- that have been made public, unclassified key judgments. We got into that mode because it was highly politicized and charged when we were doing NIEs on Iran, Iraq and the terrorism threat. There was an expectation.
Now, I made every attempt to establish a policy consistent with some of the views that were acknowledged earlier or stated earlier, about having our work be done in a confidential way and made available to those in the administration and in the Congress who need to do their work where we're dealing with classified information. And I worked that policy, I coordinated it, I notified the committees this was going to be how we were going to go forward.
And then we had a dilemma. I promulgated my policy in October. We were working through this analysis -- had been working from the summer, come into closure in November. And the issue for us was that my predecessor, Ambassador Negroponte and me were on public record making a statement that was -- or statements about Iran that were different from our conclusion. So now my dilemma was I could not not make this unclassified.
Now, so we finished the debate and the dialogue on the 27th of November. We briefed the president on the 28th of November. And the issue was the position had changed somewhat. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, there are three parts to a nuclear program. The only thing that they've halted was nuclear weapons design, which is probably the least significant part of the program.
So then the question became, what goes in unclassified key judgments? Now, we had closed and I had signed on the 28th of November the classified key judgment. So my dilemma now is -- I can't make them different when I do unclassifieds. So now we're in a horse race. I've got to notify the committee. I've got to notify allies. I've got to get unclassified out the door. So if I'd had until now to think about it, I probably would have changed a thing or two. But let me make a point. I've anticipated your question. I want to go to the first key judgment and to make reference to the article that you referenced in your remarks. First one: "We judge with high confidence in the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."
Footnote -- put it right here on the front page so everybody would see it. We don't want to make any mistakes. We don't want to mislead anybody. For the purposes of this estimate, nuclear weapons program, we mean Iran's nuclear weapons design and weaponization work and covert uranium conversion-related and uranium enrichment-related work.
Now, to someone who's familiar with weapons -- and this is the effort -- that's part of a program. Now the argument in our group was we can't just say that, we've got to attach it. So it's colon -- or pardon me -- semicolon. Same sentence, semicolon. We also raised -- assessed with moderate to high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We tried every way we could to put it all right in the beginning. It depends on your perspective of how you pick up the issue.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Thank you, Admiral. Thank you, Chairman.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Gentlemen, I regret to say that we have an inconsequential, thoroughly unsubstantive reflecting difficulties on the floor between two political parties' vote, and we have four minutes left. So I'm going to recess this for about six minutes, and I --
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): Can I go ahead with my question?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Yeah, if you can do it. I'll call on Senator Bayh if you can run --
SEN. BAYH: I'm going to go ahead with my question, and then run over for the vote, if that's okay, because I'd like to follow up on Senator Whitehouse's questioning.
Director, I don't agree with the aspersions that were cast upon the quality of the work of your people in the article that Senator Whitehouse referred to, but I do think there have been -- the work has been mischaracterized in the public domain, as you were pointing out. And it's had some unfortunate consequences. As a matter of fact, it may very well have made it more difficult to achieve the result that our nation was hoping for, which was to find a way to end the Iranian nuclear program without resorting to force. It's made diplomacy much more difficult because of the way this was received around the world, including by the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese and others.
You just mentioned that if you had to do it over again without the heat of the moment, some time to reflect, you would have changed a couple of things. What would you have changed?
MR. MCCONNELL: I think I would change the way that we describe nuclear program; I mean, put it up front, a little diagram, what are the component parts so that the reader could quickly grasp that a portion of it, I would argue, maybe even at least significant portion, was halted and there are other parts that continue.
SEN. BAYH: Well, just to clarify the record, and I'm referring only to the public NIE. And I've read it. My synopsis of it -- and I'd be interested if any of you would disagree with this -- was that they had an active -- all three components: fissile material creation, weaponization, delivery systems. All those were going forward. They decided a few years ago to suspend one component; as you characterize it, the least consequential of the three -- at least temporarily they decided to suspend it. They could recommence that at any point in time.
MR. MCCONNELL: They could.
SEN. BAYH: It would be very difficult for us, as I think you pointed out, to know when they have recommenced that, and ultimately, given their industrial and technological capabilities, they are likely to be successful. We don't know exactly when, but ultimately they're likely to be successful.
MR. MCCONNELL: Yes, sir.
SEN. BAYH: Is that a fair synopsis?
MR. MCCONNELL: That's exactly right. And that's what the unclassified -- if you read them all the way through, that's unclassified key judgment -- make that point, and then there's the full body of the 140 pages also, and (they did make that ?) point.
SEN. BAYH: Well, so my question to you is, you know, it's difficult when we just, you know, have one footnote that kinds of clarifies, as I say -- how can you and your people go about presenting this in a way that is more likely to have a balanced presentation of your beliefs, to avoid the kind of problem we've now got ourselves in going forward? And how can you think through the consequences of the report? Because it's had unintended consequences that in my own view are damaging to the national security interests of our country.
MR. MCCONNELL: Sir, it's a challenge. We tried, in the time we had left, to do just what you said. I thought at the moment, at that point in time, we had gotten good balance. In retrospect, I -- as I mentioned, I would do some things differently.
But let me make a couple of points. As you might imagine, I have focused very intently on Iran in the aftermath of this. And there's a debate in Iran now, and some are debating that this is not a good-news National Intelligence Estimate; it's a bad-news National Intelligence Estimate, because that means that international pressure and diplomacy efforts will be increased and sanctions will be enforced to hurt their economy. And in fact the permanent five plus one, Germany, have just -- they've just come to closure and agreement on new sanctions, and they're going to take it to the United Nations and have that --
SEN. BAYH: Are the Russians and the Chinese in accord with this?
MR. MCCONNELL: They are.
SEN. BAYH: They are.
MR. MCCONNELL: Perm 5.
SEN. BAYH: Well, I will be heartened and I will be pleasantly surprised if they do more than verbally express their support, but actually take the tough steps necessary.
MR. MCCONNELL: U.K., France, the United States, Russia and China.
SEN. BAYH: How do you interpret the Russians -- almost immediately after the issuing of this NIE, they're beginning to supply nuclear material to the Iranians for their reactor.
MR. MCCONNELL: Sir, I think to help -- the background of that -- I think they're actually helping make the point. Here's the issue. First of all, they -- the Iranians are pursuing a fissile production capability.
The Russians, in negotiating with them, said to them: We will provide you what you need to run a peaceful reactor, but everything is absolutely under our control -- the material that's provided, the plutonium that's produced -- it has to go back to Russia and so on. Russia's also making the argument to the Iranians: The fact you're running an independent uranium enrichment program makes you suspect. You have no need for it.
SEN. BAYH: I agree with all that, and I've got a little bit of time left here. So I guess, since I'm the last person standing -- (laughter) -- I'll have to recess the hearing and run on over there -- but I agree with all that. But they had held up the delivery beforehand, I assume, to make the point to the Iranians: Look, you know, you've got to, you know, get your act together on some of these other things, because this is the pathway forward. And then they immediately took that pressure off. So --
MR. MCCONNELL: It's because the Iranians in fact agreed to these very strict controls. So I -- my view is, they were in this dialogue actually supporting the program that had been initiated on a diplomatic level to impose sanctions through the U.N.
SEN. BAYH: Well, good. Let's hope that that proves to be the case going forward.
My last question -- and General Hayden, it may be more for you --
MR. FORT: Senator, excuse me. If I might add, just in terms of the Russian and Chinese attitudes, there are existing U.N. sanctions against Iran as a result of their failure to abide by the will of the international community, to which China and Russia have been compliant. And we are now negotiating another round of sanctions against Iran.
So they have not withheld or they have not, I should say, the Russians have not just totally opened up the floodgates in the one instance that you indicated, but the U.N. sanctions still stand against Iran.
SEN. BAYH: Well, that's true, but the question is whether the sanctions will be effective. And some observers, you know, believe that a little more needs to be done there to try and finally get the Iranians in the place they need to be.
MR. FORT: That's why the secretary of State is continuing to pursue exactly that course of action, to impose yet additional sanctions.
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