Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing: Missile Threats to the United States

September 16, 1999

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SEN. HELMS: (Gavels.) The committee will come to order. We're a little shy of senators because we got votes going on and various other things. And I've been authorized by the minority, Mr. Biden, and his representative to proceed in the hopes that he can be able to come a little later.

Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee welcomes Mr. Robert Walpole, who is National Intelligence Office for Strategic and Nuclear Programs. He has graciously agreed to testify today in an open, unclassified session regarding the recent national intelligence estimate on foreign missile threats to the United States. And I might add parenthetically that this is a subject that the public -- that is to say, the American people -- need to know more about than they know and to understand better than they do.

In any case, sir, I will state at the outset that you have done outstanding work. The unclassified report is clearly and succinctly written and possesses some of the -- possesses none of the criminally misleading caveats and hidden assumptions of previous estimates that I can identify. For these reasons and others, the National Intelligence Estimate will prove of enormous worth to the United States Senate. And I thank you in advance for that.

Now, then, four and a half years ago the president, Mr. Clinton, vetoed critical legislation to deploy immediately a national missile defense. And he used as the pretext, as I recall, a poorly drafted, short-sighted, and in my personal view, politically skewed intelligence estimate 9519. Now, I and many other Republican senators, and some Democrats, decried the president's incredible position both before this committee and on the Senate floor, citing the fact that North Korea was known, and even in 1995, to be developing a missile capable of striking U.S. cities. Four and a half years have passed since then, and every day since the president killed the concept of the deployment of a missile defense for the American people, the North Koreans have been working overtime on their missiles.

Now, Sir, I wish you had been on the job in 1995. Certainly, if you had been, the president would have been unable to use the intelligence community as he did as an excuse. Mr. Walpole today will tell this committee, the United States Senate, and the American people, I believe, that one of our worst fears has materialized. And he will make absolutely clear, I believe, that North Korea right now could convert its Taepo Dong I missile to drop anthrax on the United States, and that an even larger, more precise missile could be flight tested at any time.

Now, in anticipation of receiving your shocking report, I find myself deeply regretful that the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered so much time that should have been spent deploying a system to protect the American people. Instead of fulfilling his highest constitutional obligation to protect the American people, the president has spent his time in various dalliances, some well known, some not, not the least of which has been his love affair with the ABM Treaty.

In addition to its thorough appraisal of the rapidly emerging missile threat, there is one other important aspect of the National Intelligence Estimate, and that is on page 16, I believe it is, it states unequivocally -- and I'm quoting -- "Pakistan has M-11 SRBMs -- short-range ballistic missiles -- from China." Now, this wording expresses the absolute certainty that China has in fact transferred M- 11 missiles to Pakistan.

Now, this statement by the intelligence community stands in stark contrast to the evasive pronouncements of officials of the State Department, who have desperately sought to avoid their legal obligation to impose missile sanctions upon Communist China for this transfer. And I point out an instance that on April the 10th, 1997, during a hearing before the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee. Senator Levin asked Robert Einhorn, the deputy assistant (sic) of State for Nonproliferation -- and Levin's question was: "Have you concluded whether or not full missiles in effect were transferred?" And in response, Mr. Einhorn offered the following statement, which I regard as gobbledegook. He said, quote, "We have not reached a conclusion based on the high standard of evidence that we require that complete missiles were transferred.

We have not concluded one way or another because our level of confidence is not sufficient to take a decision that has very far- reaching consequences." Now, if you can make head or tails of that statement, I want to see you after this meeting.

In any case, Mr. Walpole, I fervently wish that the Department of State had been as candid and forthright as you and your experts have been. But I must say to all who will listen, enough is enough. The National Intelligence Estimate is the last straw. I could not agree more with then-CIA Director John Deutch, who once said about the M-11 issue, "If you are not satisfied with the intelligence on this, you will never be satisfied with any intelligence on anything else," quote, unquote.

Now then, I am taking up more time than I intended. But let it be clear that I am not inclined to stand back in silence as any administration, including particularly the present one, continues to dodge the Arms Export Control Act and breaking the law without suffering the consequences. The NIE makes it absolutely clear that there is zero doubt about China's having transferred M-11 missiles to Pakistan.

And I want to make it absolutely clear here today, from here on out, the administration has a choice. The administration can adhere to the MTCR law, which it has been flouting for the past six years, or it can make do without any assistant secretary of State for Nonproliferation Affairs. That I think I can assure. The choice is plain and simple. And on the day that the Clinton-Gore administration demonstrates that it deserves an assistant secretary for these issues, we'll try to cooperate then, but not before.

And with that, sir, I welcome you again here today, and we will await Senator Biden for his statement after you have completed. You may proceed.



National Intelligence Office
for Strategic and Nuclear Programs


MR. WALPOLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today in an open session to discuss the intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate. We refer to them as "NIEs." It's just shorter. This one covered the ballistic missile threat through the year 2015.

Following my statement, I'll try to answer any questions you have, without providing important information to foreign countries on how they could hide more weapons developments from us. Thus, you'll understand that in some cases, I may not be able to answer a question more fully than I really would like to. In such cases, though, I can provide a classified answer for the record, if you'd like.

My statement for the record, which I think you have a copy of, doesn't cover all of the important information that the unclassified paper does.

SEN. HELMS: But suppose we make that officially a part of the record?

MR. WALPOLE: Okay. I was going to ask that that be --

SEN. HELMS: Yes, sir.

MR. WALPOLE: -- that both of those, in fact --

SEN. HELMS: Without objection.

MR. WALPOLE: -- be included as part of the record because I am even going to just summarize the statement for the record.

Congress has requested the intelligence community to provide annual reports on ballistic missile developments worldwide. We did the first of those reports in March 1998. And then, following the August launch of '98, of the North Korean Taepo Dong I space-launched vehicle, we did an update memorandum. We didn't feel that that could wait for this NIE, to get covered.

Our 1999 report, as you have noted, is the National Intelligence Estimate in that we examined future capabilities for several countries that have or have had ballistic missiles or space-launch programs or even the intention.

Our approach for this year's report differs in three major ways from previous reports. First, we project the missile developments through the year 2015. Prior reports have only gone to 2010, so we've added five more years for development effort. That's important.

Second, with expertise inside and outside the intelligence community, we examined ways that a country could acquire an ICBM and assessed the likelihood that they would do so. Earlier intelligence reports only focused on what the country is likely to do; our best estimates of what they would likely do. The Rumsfeld Commission report only looked at what a country could do and didn't discuss likelihood. We thought it was time the two were put together in one document so that people could see what they were capable of doing, these countries were capable, as well as see what we judged they were likely to do. Although I will note, in fairness to one agency, they believe the prominence given by this approach to missiles a country could develop gives more credence than is warranted to developments that may prove implausible.

Third, countries could threaten to use ballistic missiles against the United States following very limited flight testing; in fact, only one test. So we used the first successful flight test to indicate an initial threat availability. A nation may decide that the ability to threaten with one or two missiles is sufficient for its needs.

I should note that our projections of future ICBM developments are based on limited information and engineering judgment. Adding to our uncertainty is that many countries surround their ballistic missile programs with secrecy and some employ deception. Recall that we did not know that the Taepo Dong I had a third stage until a few days after the flight. That's one of the reasons that we have to keep some of this information classified. I don't think anybody in the American public wants us to tell foreigners how to hide more from us. They hide plenty now.

I should also note that we incorporated the results of several expert academic and contractor efforts, including recommendations from former members of the Rumsfeld Commission, assistance from political economic experts to help examine potential ICBM sales, and assistance from multiple missile contractors to help postulate the potential ICBM configurations that rogue states could pursue.

Let me mention a couple of comments about the proliferation environment we find ourselves in. Worldwide ballistic missile proliferation has continued to evolve during the past 18 months. The capabilities of the missiles that we're seeing are growing, a factor underscored by North Korea's Taepo Dong launch, the number of missiles is increasing, medium and short-range ballistic missiles already pose a significant threat to U.S. interests, military forces and allies overseas. We have seen increased trade and cooperation among countries that have been recipients of the missile technologies. And finally, some countries continue to work on longer-range missiles, including ICBMs.

Projecting political and economic developments that could alter the nature of the missile threat many years into the future is virtually impossible. The threat ultimately will depend on our changing relations with foreign countries, the political and economic situation in those countries, and other factors that we cannot predict with confidence. I note, for example, that 15 years ago, the United States and the former Soviet Union were superpower adversaries in the midst of the Cold War, posturing forces against each other in Europe. Fifteen years ago, Iraq shared some significant common interests with the United States. Finally, we don't know if some of the countries -- that I won't mention names -- would even exist 15 years from now, or even as suppliers of technology.

Understanding those uncertainties, we project that during the next 15 years, the United States will most likely face a ballistic missile threat from Russia, China and North Korea, probably from Iran, and possibly from Iraq. The Russian threat, although significantly reduced, will continue to be the most robust and lethal, much more so than China, and magnitudes, orders of magnitude more than the threat posed by others. North Korea, Iran, Iraq will have fewer ICBMs, probably on the order of a few to 10, constrained to smaller payloads, they will be less reliable, less accurate, and they won't have the payload capability. I think I mentioned that.

The new missile threats are far different from that of the Cold War during the last three decades. During that period, the ballistic missile threat involved relatively accurate, survivable, reliable missiles deployed in large numbers.

By contrast, the new missile threats involve states with considerably fewer missiles, less accuracy, yield, survivability, reliability, and payload capability. Even so, they threaten in different ways.

First, although the majority of systems being developed and produced today are short- and medium-range missiles, North Korea's three-stage Taepo Dong I space-launched vehicle launch demonstrated Pyongyang's potential to cross the ICBM threshold if it develops a survivable weapon for that system. Other nations could cross that threshold during the next 15 years.

Second, many of the countries that are developing longer-range missiles probably assess that the threat of their use would complicate American decision-making during crises. Over the last decade, the world has observed that missiles much less capable than the ICBMs the United States and others have deployed, can affect another nation's decision-making process.

Third, the probability that a missile with a weapon of mass destruction will be used against U.S. forces or interests is higher today than during most of the Cold War. Ballistic missiles, for example, were used against U.S. forces during the Gulf War. More nations now have longer-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction. While the missiles used in several conflicts over the past two decades did not have weapons of mass destruction, some of the regimes controlling the missiles have exhibited a willingness to use those weapons in other ways.

Thus, acquiring long-range ballistic missiles, armed with a weapon of mass destruction, probably will enable weaker nations to deter, constrain and harm the United States. The missiles do not need to be deployed in large numbers, they do not need to be highly accurate, they do not need to be highly reliable, but their strategic value is derived primarily from the threat of their use, not the near- certain outcome of their use. In many ways, such weapons may be viewed more as strategic weapons of deterrence and corrosive diplomacy.

The progress of countries in Asia and the Middle East toward acquiring long-range ballistic missiles has been dramatically demonstrated over the past 18 months; most notably, the Taepo Dong I launch I just mentioned. Pakistan flight-tested the 1,300-kilometer range Ghauri Missile. Iran flight-tested the 1,300-kilometer range Shahab-3. India recently flight-tested a 2,000-kilometer range Agni 2. And China conducted its first flight test of a mobile ICBM, the DF-31, just last month.

Now let's turn to the threats.

On North Korea: After Russia and China, North Korea is the most likely to develop ICBMs capable of threatening the United States during the next 15 yeith an operable third stage and a reentry veicle capable of surviving ICBM flights, a converted Taepo Dong I space launch vehicle could deliver a light payload to the United States. In these cases, about two-thirds of the payload mass would be required for the reentry vehicle structure. The remaining mass is probably too light for an early generation nuclear weapon but could deliver biological or chemical warfare agents. Most analysts believed that North Korea probably would test a Taepo Dong II this year, unless, as we have now seen, it is delayed for political reasons. A two-stage Taepo Dong II could deliver a several hundred-kilogram payload to Alaska and Hawaii, and a lighter payload to the western half of the United States. A three-stage Taepo Dong II could deliver a several hundred-kilogram payload anywhere in the United States. North Korea is much more likely to weaponize the more capable Taepo Dong II than the Taepo Dong I as an ICBM.

Iran is the next hostile country most capable of testing an ICBM that could deliver a weapon to the United States during the next 15 years. Iran could test an ICBM that could deliver a several hundred- kilogram payload to many parts of the United States in the latter half of the next decade using Russian technology and assistance. Iran could pursue a Taepo Dong-type ICBM and could test either a Taepo Dong I or a Taepo Dong II, possibly with North Korean assistance, in the next few years. Iran is likely to test a space launch vehicle by the year 2010 that, once developed, could be converted into an ICBM. Beyond that, analysts differ on the likely timing of Iran's first flight test.

What you'll find in our, both the unclassified and the classified papers, we get more agreement on what the countries could do than what they're likely to do. That's because what they could do is based off of infrastructure, what we've seen happen in the past, capabilities. What they're likely to has factors that are just fraught with a lot of uncertainty. But there's a spread of views on Iran. Some analysts believe that Iran is likely to test an ICBM before 2010, and very likely before 2015, and, in fact, probably will test a space launch vehicle like the Taepo Dong I in the next few years. Some analysts believe there's no more than an even chance of an ICBM test from Iran by 2010 and a better than even chance by 2015, and still others believe less than an even chance by 2015. Now let's shift to Iraq. Although the gulf war and subsequent U.N. activities destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure, Iraq could test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States in the next 15 years.

After observing North Korean activities, Iraq would likely pursue a three-stage Taepo Dong II type approach to an ICBM. If they got North Korean assistance with engines, they would be able to do it much faster than if they had to do it on their own. But in either case, it would be in the latter half of the next decade.

Although much less likely, they could try to test a much less capable ICBM patterned after one of their failed SLVs -- the failed SLV prior to the Gulf War, using Scud components, or to try to copy a Taepo Dong I. Now again, analysts differ on likelihood. Assessments include: unlikely before the year 2015; likely before 2015; possibly before 2010, if foreign assistance were involved.

Russia's forces are experiencing serious budget constraints, but will remain the cornerstone of their military power. Russia has about a thousand strategic ballistic missiles with 4,500 warheads. They'll maintain as many strategic missiles and warheads as they feel their budget would allow, but it will be well short of START I or START II limits. If Russia ratifies START II, with its ban on multiple warheads on ICBMs, it would probably be able to maintain only about half the number of weapons it could maintain without a ban.

We judge than an unauthorized or accidental launch of a Russian strategic missile is highly unlikely, so long as current technical and procedural safeguards are in place.

Now let me shift to China for a moment. China's doctrine calls for a survivable long-range missile force that can hold a significant portion of the U.S. at risk in a retaliatory strike. China's current force of about 20 CSS-4s can reach targets in all of the United States. China's developing two road-mobile ICBMs. The first, I mentioned earlier, was tested last month, and we expect they're developing a longer-ranged mobile ICBM, to be tested sometime in the next decade, to be targeted primarily against the United States. They're also developing the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which we expect to be tested in the next decade as well.

By the year 2015, China will likely have tens of missiles targeted against the United States, having added a few tens of more survivable land- and sea-based mobile ICBMs.

When I delivered this paper to the -- to a press backgrounder, I was asked what "tens" meant and what "a few tens" meant.

And I said: "I am not going to declassify the numbers we have, but I'll say this. Tens is more than 20" -- because we put the number 20 in there -- "and it's less than a hundred. And a few tens is less than tens." So somewhere in there, people can play with the numbers and go with it.

China has a technical capability to develop multiple RV payloads for about 20 years, hasn't done so. But if they wanted one, they could use the reentry vehicle from the recently tested mobile ICBM and have either a multiple RV, or a multiple independently targeted RV, system in a few years. But we expect that MIRV'ing a mobile system would take many years.

China is also significantly improving its theater missile capabilities opposite Taiwan and is significantly increasing the number of missiles deployed opposite Taiwan. We assessed that an unauthorized or accidental launch of a Chinese strategic missile is highly unlikely.

You have mentioned foreign assistance -- I mentioned that as well -- continues to have demonstrable effects on missile advances around the world. Russian missile assistance continues to be significant. China continues to contribute to missile programs in some countries. North Korea may expand its sales. And some recipients are now sharing more with others and are pursuing cooperative missile ventures.

Moreover, changes in the regional and international security environment, and in particular Iran's Shahab-3 test, and India and Pakistan missile tests and nuclear tests, are probably fueling regional interest in missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Sales of ICBMs and space-launched vehicles, which have an -- ICBM capabilities, could further increase the threat.

North Korea continues to demonstrate a willingness to sell. Projecting the likelihood of a Russian or a Chinese sale 15 years into the future is very difficult. Nevertheless, we continue to judge it unlikely that Moscow or Beijing would sell a complete ICBM SLV or technology tantamount to an ICBM. That will all be driven by really unpredictable future economic conditions, how Moscow will perceive its position vis-a-vis the West, and future Russian and Chinese perceptions of U.S. ballistic missile defenses.

A lot has been said about warning times and the intelligence community's ability to warn. That ability depends highly on our collection capabilities, country to country. Our monitoring the warning about North Korea's efforts is an excellent case study on warning. In 1994, we were able to give five years' warning of North Korea's efforts to acquire an ICBM capability.

In hindsight, however, we had overestimated when North Korea would test both the Taepo Dong I and the Taepo Dong II, we had correctly projected the timing of their developing a system that could deliver small payloads to the United States, but we had underestimated the capabilities of the Taepo Dong I, primarily because we missed the third stage.

North Korea demonstrated intercontinental range booster capabilities roughly on the time table we projected in '94, but with a completely unanticipated vehicle configuration. Thus, detecting or suspecting the missile development program and projecting the timing of the emerging threat, although difficult, are easier than forecasting the missiles' performance or configuration.

We continue to judge that we may not be able to provide much warning if a country purchased an ICBM or if the country already had a space-launch vehicle. Nevertheless, we would view a space-launch vehicle in the hands of a hostile country as a potential ICBM program. We also judge that we may not be able to provide much, if any, warning of a forward-based ballistic missile or cruise missile threat.

Several other means for delivering weapons of mass destruction have probably been devised, some more reliable than the ICBMs we've talked about. Most of these means, however, do not provide the same prestige and degree of deterrence or coercive diplomacy associated with long-range missiles. Several countries would be capable of deploying a short-range ballistic missile or, if they develop one, a cruise missile on a surface ship. If they're not worried about accuracy, it's not that difficult and even accuracy, in many cases, would be more -- would be better than some of the systems that we've been looking at for ICBMs.

Finally, I should make some comments about the non-missile threats. Although non-missile means of delivering weapons do not provide the same prestige, degree of deterrence or coercive diplomacy associated with an ICBM, such options are of significant concern. Countries or non-state actors could pursue non-missile delivery options, most of which are less expensive than ICBMs, can be covertly developed and employed, probably would be more reliable, probably would be more accurate than emerging ICBMs during the next 15 years, probably would be more effective in disseminating biological warfare agents and certainly would avoid missile defenses.

Foreign non-state actors, including some non-terrorist or extremist groups, have used, possessed, or are interested in weapons of mass destruction or the materials to build them. Most of the groups have threatened the United States or its interests. We cannot count on obtaining warning of all planned terrorist attacks, despite the high priority we assign to this goal.

The proliferation of medium-range missiles driven primarily by North Korean No Dong sales has created an immediate, serious and growing threat to U.S. forces, interests and allies in the Middle East and Asia. And it has significantly altered the strategic balances in these regions. As you noted, our report says that Pakistan has M-11 SRBMs from China, and Ghauri MRBMs from North Korea. We assess that both have a nuclear role. India has Prithvi I SRBMs and recently began testing the Agni II MRBM. We assess again both may have a nuclear role. We judge that the countries developing missiles view their regional concerns as a primary factor in pursuing the program. They see short and medium-range missiles not only as deterrents, but as force-multiplying weapons of war.

On penetration agent countermeasures, we were asked specifically to address that in this year's annual report. We assess that countries developing ballistic missiles would also develop various responses to U.S. theater and national defenses. Russia and China each have developed numerous countermeasures and are probably willing to sell some of the technologies. Many countries such as North Korea, Iran, Iraq probably would rely initially on readily available technology -- separating RVs, stabilized RVs, RV reorientation, radar- absorbing material, booster fragmentation, low powered jammers, chaff and simple balloon decoys -- to develop these penetration aids and countermeasures. These countries could develop countermeasures based on these technologies by the time they flight test their missiles.

Finally, I should close with a comment on espionage. Foreign espionage and other collection efforts are likely to increase. We did the damage assessment earlier this year -- I was responsible for that -- and we did an unclassified set of key findings on that. In that, we noted that China had obtained significant nuclear weapons information from espionage, contact with scientists from the United States and other countries, publications and conferences, unauthorized media disclosures, declassified U.S. weapons information. We assess that China, Iran and others are also targeting U.S. missile information.

So with that, I'm ready to take whatever questions you have. And I'm sorry that it took a while to go through, but I think this is kind of important, to get the whole story.

SEN. HELMS: Well, it was most fascinating and frightening. I hope that everybody here is aware that you are emphasizing that North Korea is a threat now, and that it will be an even bigger threat in a couple of years. Iran will be a threat in the next 10 years, and Iraq might be. But I don't understand people who say, Well, we don't need any missile defense in the United States because we got all those treaties.

Sam Ervin used to laugh as he told about Will Rogers -- and everybody here is not old enough to remember Will Rogers, who was probably the most popular American entertainer. He used to say at that time that the United States never lost a war or won a treaty. And that was about right.

(In any case ?), Mr. Walpole, a commission chaired by former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld released a study last year which found in part that North Korea and Iran and Iraq -- and I'm quoting specifically and precisely -- "all of these would be able to inflict major destruction on the United States within about five years of a decision to acquire such capability." Then he said 10 years in the case of Iraq. Do you agree with that?

MR. WALPOLE: I know they've since modified their Iraq judgment and backed that back to five years as well.

As you can see from our unclassified piece, and you would see in the classified report as well, we have the countries having the capability of testing an ICBM well within that five-year period of time, actually earlier than that. But that's what I said before about the Rumsfeld report talking about what the country could do and didn't walk through the likely. I think you could see from our judgment we certainly have countries could do things much sooner; we think they're likely to take a little longer.

SEN. HELMS: Do you know Don Rumsfeld personally?

MR. WALPOLE: Yes. In fact, as we started this report, we decided to use the former commissioners and some outside experts to read through the report and let us know what they thought. Here's a ready-made group of people that know all the intelligence. They've worked it inside and out. And while we didn't agree on everything -- and Don would tell you that -- I just got a fax from him today saying he thought the report was great. So --.

SEN. HELMS: Saying what?

MR. WALPOLE: I didn't bring the letter with me, but he said he thought it was a very good report. Now, all he had at this point was the unclassified one. I think next week he'll read the classified.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I think the Rumsfeld report -- what he -- the Rumsfeld report was saying, as I understood it, is that the United States may have less than five years in which to deploy a missile defense to protect the American people.

But you said that you don't always agree. How does your national intelligence estimate contrast with the Rumsfeld report with regard to the timeliness of emergence of Iranian, North Korean and Iraqi threats? Do you have a difference with them or do you agree with it or what?

MR. WALPOLE: On what the country could do, we probably have the countries weapons even faster than they were suggesting.


MR. WALPOLE: On what the country is likely to do, they didn't address that. They didn't address what Iran was likely to do, or what Iraq was likely to do, so I don't know how they would do that, other than their comments to us as we were walking through this. Their report did not address that.

SEN. HELMS: All right.

Now, some of the questions I'm asking, I know what your answer's going to be, but I want you to answer them for the record. One is, should the Senate -- the United States Senate, where I work, be concerned about continuing reports that China may be pursuing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles -- that is to say, the MRVs? Should we be concerned?

MR. WALPOLE: Part of that would depend on how you would define concerned. They have had the technical capability to multiple reentry vehicles on the CSS-4 for quite a while --

SEN. HELMS: Mmm hmm.

MR. WALPOLE: -- and have not pursued that. They probably view the silos as vulnerable to our systems. That's why they want to move to a mobile system.

SEN. HELMS: Which they are.

MR. WALPOLE: Which they are. So I don't know whether we should be concerned that they would do that, because they may view it just as throwing good money after bad. The silos are vulnerable.

At the same time, they certainly are capable of doing that, and that's why I pointed out in my statement here that they could do a multiple payload off that CSS-4 in just a matter of a few years -- SEN. HELMS: Mmm hmm.

MR. WALPOLE: -- if they really felt they needed to.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I've seen three or four recent intelligence assessments, and none of which have paid a great deal of attention to the possibility of an accidental or unauthorized launch from the former Soviet Union. Now how do you feel? Do you believe that the danger of such a launch has increased, decreased, or remains substantially the same during the past five years?

MR. WALPOLE: Again, as I said, we judge an accidental or unauthorized launch from both Russia and China as highly unlikely. In the case of Russia, obviously we would want to watch for turmoil that could erupt that could cause some problems with procedural safeguards; but the way things are and the way we see them at least for the foreseeable future, highly unlikely.

SEN. HELMS: Now, the NIE 9519 assumed that the Missile Technology Control Regime will continue significantly to limit international transfers of missiles and components and related technology. Now, does the current NIE make such an assumption?

MR. WALPOLE: It does not. That's actually an interesting question, not only for me as having worked the estimate, but personally with the background of my career. For a number of years I was an intelligence analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State, and then later was deputy assistant secretary for defense and arms control. And in both those capacities, I ended up working to help stop the Condor II program, which, for those that don't know, that was a program being worked on by Argentina, Iraq and Egypt. And had it completed to fruition, it would have made the Nodong and the Taepo Dong I look like a toy. It would have been a much better system.

And so there I think we've had an example where nonproliferation efforts, the MTCR, worked extremely well and put a stop to the program. We didn't make an assumption in our estimate that nonproliferation efforts were going to succeed and stop the programs. We based our judgments on what the countries are capable of doing, what technology transfers we see going on today, and projecting those types of transfers out into the future.

It would be wonderful in those transfers were stemmed, but my perception of proliferation is there's four aspects.

There's preventing acquisition; there's rollback, which I think is the case of the Condor II; there is deterring use, which we would like to continue to see occurring between India and Pakistan; and then there's making sure we have the ability to operate against the systems and at least deal with the systems in one way or another.

So that's really the perception that we took in the report, is that it's going to have an effect in some areas. In some cases people are going to skirt these restrictions and programs are going to proceed.

SEN. HELMS: Well, we talk a lot about -- in the cloakroom and elsewhere, about China's commitment to the Missile Technology Control Regime. How do you evaluate it? How much commitment do they have to it?

MR. WALPOLE: How much commitment --

SEN. HELMS: China's commitment to the Missile Technology Control Regime.

MR. WALPOLE: I'm trying to figure out how to answer that one. In part, I'm the wrong guy to be asking that; it's really more directed toward policy. But from the intelligence perspective, as I indicated, China's assistance to foreign countries continues to be of concern to us.

SEN. HELMS: All right. How about Russia?

MR. WALPOLE: The same.

SEN. HELMS: Now, the NIE 95-19 assumed that no country with ICBMs will sell them.

Does the current NIE make such an assumption?

MR. WALPOLE: The current NIE judges that it's unlikely that a country would sell one, but notes that there are conditions that we have to continue to monitor; that it's extremely uncertain to project that far, 15 years into the future. That's why we had right up front, both in the statement and in the NIE, reminding us that 15 years ago, you and I were in the same room talking about INF Treaty. Now, I was sitting back behind Secretary Shultz at the time. But that was a totally different Soviet Union than we're facing today. And I don't know that 15 years from now it will be totally different again. So it's hard to project that.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I don't know whether we're going to be here 15 years from now sometimes -- (chuckles) -- when I look at what we're paying no attention to!

You know, it seems to me that the increasing availability of dual-use technologies, particularly through spac programs -- is that enhancing the ability of countries to produce ballistic missiles and reentry vehicles? What do you think about that?

MR. WALPOLE: I'd take that a piece at a time. To produce the boosters, the answer is yes.

There really -- there's not a whole lot of difference between a space-launch vehicle and a missile. There can be, if you design them differently, but there doesn't have to be. The primary difference is the missile has a re-entry vehicle. That's a weapon on the top. Space-launch vehicles do not. You have to modify -- you have to reprogram the guidance system to fly a different trajectory. You don't want to put your RV into orbit, if you're trying to target somebody.

So countries that don't already have a robust missile or space- launch vehicle program would gain a lot from working with someone else that already has that on a space-launch program that could help them with a missile program.

SEN. HELMS: I wanted you to talk about that, because I question -- I have a question about the limitations contained in the START treaty. Russia has been constrained in its ability to set up space- launch facilities in foreign countries such as Iran and China, but the Clinton administration has offered to change the START treaty and give Russia the opportunity to locate as many as three new space-launch facilities outside of its own territory.

Now, what would be the impact upon U.S. intelligence capabilities if Russia were allowed to locate or designate a space-launch facility in, say China or in Iran?

MR. WALPOLE: It would provide Russia an ability to share technologies in a manner that would look like it was all for space launch that could help the country with missiles, and so discerning whether it was missile or space launch alone would be difficult.

I think that's best exemplified by what we called the Taepo Dong I last year. When it first flew, we called it a missile. In fact, for a couple of days we kept calling it a missile. Now you hear, of course, calling it a space-launch vehicle. That should tell you something about the different between the two.

So, yeah, it would make our job more difficult in being able to explain to someone whether something that was transferred was purely for space launch or was going to be used for missile.

SEN. HELMS: Why are such a large number of countries, including Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, India, Pakistan, for example, pursuing long-range ballistic missile systems? All of a sudden they are on the front pages.

Why are they doing this?

MR. WALPOLE: Well, as -- they view them as force-multiplying weapons of war. They have regional concerns. They want to be able to reach regional adversaries.

Now in some cases, the countries are going to want to reach a little further, and that's where we lean with North Korea and with Iran. There's an interest there in being able to reach the United States. Now whether they do that under the guise of a space-launched vehicle program or an outright -- show us an ICBM remains to be seen.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I was very much interested when Pakistan did their little bit -- big bit. Everybody concentrated on the dispute between India and Pakistan, dating back to their fight about jute, who was going to produced it and who was not. But I think that their fear or apprehensions about China had as much to do with that as anything. But there are all sorts of opinions why they want to present such a capability. Do you have any additional ones that you want to say for the record?

MR. WALPOLE: Well, I --

SEN. HELMS: Why do they spend the money? Why do they do this and --

MR. WALPOLE: Well, again, it's a force-multiplying weapon of war. If they can purchase the missiles from somebody else, they don't have to go through the long development time to get there.

SEN. HELMS: Right.

MR. WALPOLE: And right now Pakistan's missiles don't reach all of India, so they may want to go after something that would give them a little longer range. I mean, then they could cover those targets.

SEN. HELMS: And then we sit back in the United States while they are figuring how to get longer range, saying, "Well, we don't need a missile defense system." That's what some senators are telling me. And they're trying to push me into paying no attention to the ABM Treaty and just let that sit there, you know, and just bring up the treaty that the president wants considered at this time. But the president made a commitment to me, in writing, that he was going to send the ABM up -- made it two years ago. And I'm going to hold him to his word. Now he hasn't mentioned a syllable about that, nor has any spokesman.

Then we see the black market countries, such as Russia and Ukraine --they play a role, don't they, in facilitating the spread of ballistic missile capabilities. I think that's a given, isn't it?

MR. WALPOLE: Well, now we're getting into an area where I don't want to tread into classified information.

But let's say that some of the assistance we see from multiple countries, some of it appears that the government leaders might be aware, and that in other cases government leaders are not aware, just it's entities within the country working it. And let me just leave that one at that.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I've enjoyed -- I got to be candid about it, I've enjoyed having you to myself, even though I know that the other senators will want to file some questions in writing. And I know you will respond to them in writing.

I have one final question. If you don't want to answer it, I will understand. But as a United States citizens in this year of our Lord, do you, sir, want a national missile defense for the United States of America?

MR. WALPOLE: I don't think as an intelligence officer I even get to answer that question. I might answer that in the walls of my own home to my wife, but that's about as far as that one goes. (Laughs.)

SEN. HELMS: Okay. I will not push you further. I know that Joe Biden would have enjoyed an exchange with you, not to mention the rest of the senators. But just speaking for myself, I certainly appreciate the effort you made to come here today and to be so helpful in making the record for us, which we're trying to do. I often say that the best speeches I make are the ones that I don't make until I get in the car going back home at night. I wish I could -- find myself wishing I could have added so-and-so. Do you have anything you want to add before we wind up?

MR. WALPOLE: No, I think I built everything in the statement.

SEN. HELMS: Well, I think you've done exceedingly well. And I compliment you, sir. I want you to know I'm tremendously impressed. And I thank you for coming.

MR. WALPOLE: Thank you.

SEN. HELMS: And if there be no further business to come before the committee, we stand in recess. (Gavels.)