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SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R-MS): The Subcommittee will please come to order. Welcome to our hearing today on the National Intelligence Estimate of the ballistic missile threat to the United States. Last year Congress passed and the President signed the National Missile Defense Act, which officially stated the policy of the United States to be the deployment as soon as technologically possible of a national missile defense system effective against a limited ballistic missile attack.
We are now aware that several nations, which may not be impressed with our overwhelming missile forces, are working hard to build long- range ballistic missiles. North Korea is one example. In August of 1998, North Korea launched a three stage Taepo Dong I ballistic missile. This missile demonstrated that despite the economic difficulties and isolation of North Korea, it has made impressive progress in developing a multistage ballistic missile, capable of flying to intercontinental ranges. North Korea appears ready to test an even more capable Taepo Dong II.
Iran has tested a medium range ballistic missile, and has begun developing longer range weapons.
These developments reflect not just a determination by rogue states to acquire ballistic missiles, but the increasing availability of the technology required to develop these weapons. Recent assessments made clear that one factor enabling rogue states to acquire ballistic missiles is the continuing flow of missile technology from Russia, China and North Korea.
Of even greater concern is the fact that traditional importers of ballistic missile technology are now becoming suppliers. CIA Director Tenet testified just last week that, quote, "Iran's existence as a secondary supplier of this technology to other countries is the trend that worries me the most," end quote. More suppliers will create greater opportunities for proliferation in the future.
In September of last year, the intelligence community released a new estimate projecting the likely course of the threat, the unclassified summary of which is the subject of today's hearing.
Mr. Robert Walpole, the intelligence community's national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, oversaw the formulation of the National Intelligence Estimate, and will be our first witness. Mr. Walpole will be followed by a panel of two nongovernmental witnesses, who will provide their views on the estimate: Dr. William Schneider, who is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and previously served as undersecretary of state for security assistance, and as a member of the Rumsfeld Commission, and Mr. Joseph Cirincione, who is the director of the nonproliferation project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
I'd like to emphasize that all discussion in our hearing today will be confined to the unclassified summary of the National Intelligence Estimate. Also during my questions of the witnesses after they've completed their presentations, I may refer to the National Intelligence Estimate or NIE, but in each case in which I do so I'm referring to the unclassified summary, even though I may not specifically say that. And the answers to the questions should include only information in the unclassified summary of the NIE, or National Intelligence Estimate.
With that I'm happy to yield to my distinguish colleagues and friend from Hawaii, Senator Akaka.
DANIEL K. AKAKA
A Senator from Hawaii, and
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on International Security,
Proliferation and Federal Services,
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
SEN. DANIEL K. AKAKA (D-HI): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and think for scheduling this hearing. We know that this is one of the most important issues facing American policymakers. Every Congress should begin with a hearing on this subject. I look forward to hearing the witnesses and so my opening statement, Mr. Chairman, will be brief.
We all fear the terror that may rain down with little warning from the skies, missiles launched by rogue nations carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical warheads. The job of our first witness, Mr. Walpole from CIA, the job of all of us in Congress is to understand the threat and not to let policy be governed by imagined fears.
I hope today's hearing will allow us to understand better the real terrors we face. In August, 1998, the North Koreans launched a three stage missile that blew up shortly after launch. We weren't surprised by that development, and the Clinton administration has been seeking to halt North Korean missile exports and production ever since.
Next month a senior North Korean official will be coming to Washington to discuss the missile moratorium. I would hope the Subcommittee might have the administration brief us on the results of those talks.
We have begun testing elements of a National Missile Defense, NMD, to help safeguard us against some of the threats from rogue nations. We are starting to spend billions of dollars to guard America against attack by a few missiles. However, if other nations had lived up to their commitments under the Missile Technology Control Regime, MTCR, and had not provided assistance to North Korea, Iran, and other countries' missile programs, we wouldn't have to spend this money now.
Some of the states who complained the loudest about NMD are also the ones who have provided the most assistance to Iran and North Korea.
I also think it is time that we give serious thought to alternatives to the MTCR. It is an arms control regime that is not working as it should. More and more states are also looking to develop space launched vehicle programs, including countries like South Korea and India. Their legitimate desire to be in space will mean that more and more nations will have the technology to develop Intercontinental ballistic missiles. I am not certain what the answer is, but I think we need to look seriously at finding peaceful outlets for nations who want to be involved in space exploration and exploitation. I would encourage my colleague, the Chairman of the Subcommittee, to hold a hearing on the subject. I think the private sector and the arms control community would both be interested in participating.
So let me thank you, Mr. Chairman, again for scheduling this hearing, and I look forward to the testimony of Mr. Walpole, Mr. Cirincione, and Mr. Schneider.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you very much, Senator.
Mr. Walpole, you may proceed.
National Intelligence Officer
for Strategic and Nuclear Programs
MR. WALPOLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to discuss the intelligence communities recent National Intelligence Estimate on the ballistic missile threat, as well as to discuss the methodologies that we used to devise that estimate. You have copies of the unclassified NIE, and following my comments I'll try to answer questions that you pose, without giving any further assistance to foreign countries that love to hide stuff from us. They don't need any help and sometimes our answers can end of helping them.
If there are questions that you need answers to that we can do unclassified, we could provide an answer classified for the record.
I support writing unclassified papers for the public from the intelligence community. I've written several myself. They provide an important insight into the intelligence community and its work. The American public is one of our primary customers, but generally only their congressional representatives get to see what it is we do, so I appreciate these opportunities. We need the general populace to understand how important intelligence work is for our security and our safety. That necessity did not in the Cold War. In fact in some ways it's more important today. Intelligence is essential for dealing with hostile intentions of some nations, for combating terrorism, weapons proliferation that you've discussed, and narcotics trafficking.
Significant intelligence work goes on everyday to make our life safer and more secure.
I would like to summarize my statement, and if I could I'd like to submit both the unclassified paper and my written statement for the record.
SEN. COCHRAN: Without objection, they will both be made a part of the record.
MR. WALPOLE: Okay, thank you.
Congress has requested that the intelligence community to annual reports on this ballistic missile threat. The first was in March, '98. We did an update in October, '98, because of the Taepo Dong launch that you mentioned, and then we did the September, '99 estimate. In that case we worked with the director of Central Intelligence to do an unclassified version of the document, and that's what we're meeting on today.
There are three major differences with how we approach this past year's reports and previous reports, and I'd like to walk through those little bit.
First, we projected to the year 2015. Previous reports had only gone to 2010. In essence, what we've done is added five years of very important development timeframe for these countries.
The second one, and this is probably the most important point, we examined when a country could require an ICBM, as well as when they were likely to do so, or in our judgment when they're likely to do so. Earlier intelligence reports focused only on what countries would most likely do. The Rumsfeld Report focus only on what a country could do. We felt that an honest, thorough analysis was going to need both. And I highlight that as probably the most important one. The day after this estimate was released, the unclassified version, I read in the newspaper a quote from an individual from the Carnegie Endowment that said that all we had done was looked at what countries could do, and it didn't tell policymakers what the countries were likely to do. I called the individual and said, "We've even got it in italics." And he said, he admitted he hadn't read it yet. That's kind of irresponsible. This issue is too important to be dealt with lightly like that.
That's why we went into this saying, you know, in order to help everybody out -- policymakers, people on the Hill -- we've got to lay out both what countries could do technologically, economically, and contrast that with what we judge they're likely to do. And you'll see some of those differences as I walk through this.
The third difference is because a country can threaten to use ballistic missiles against the United States after only one successful test, we are now using the first successful flight test as an indicator of initial threat availability. Former estimates talked about when the system would be deployed. Countries don't have to deploy these systems in the way that we're used to during the Cold War. That's a Cold War thinking idea. We've got to think in terms of what can countries do. They can erect a missile from a test launch stance, and use it to strike us. Now, it's vulnerable to being eliminated through other means. That's absolutely true. But the threat is still there, and that's what we're talking about is the threat.
They don't need to deploy these systems in large numbers. They don't need to have robust test programs. They can deploy after only one successful test, and we've seen that happen. And so that makes it different than the 1995 estimate, a lot different.
Now I should note that our projections are based largely on limited information and engineering judgment. Adding to that uncertainty is that many countries hide their programs with secrecy and they use deception. A primary example of deception in this area is that a country could fly a missile and call it a space launch vehicle. And really the only difference between a missile and a space launch vehicle is the warhead on the end. Yes, you have to re-program the guidance system, but that's not hard enough for somebody that knows what they're doing in this program.
We also incorporated recommendations of former members of the Rumsfeld Commission. And we didn't always agree with them, and Bill Schneider could probably tell you some of the areas where we had disagreements. But we felt here's a group, a bipartisan group that had all the intelligence available that we had, we'd like to have them read through various drafts of this and tell us if they think we're not addressing some questions we ought to.
Secondly, we had political, economic experts get involved, and help us assess what could cause a country like Russia to sell an ICBM, since we judge that they're unlikely to do so right now.
And thirdly, we had missile contractors come in and help us design configurations these countries could do quickly that would be able to deliver weapons to the United States. So that instead of being hostage to some of our old thinking about how the Russians did it or how we've done it, we got some engineers together and said, how could you put this together.
Worldwide proliferation has continued to evolve over the last 18 months. The missile capabilities themselves are advancing, as evidenced by North Korea's Taepo Dong I launch. The number of missiles has increased. Medium and short range ballistic missiles systems already pose a significant threat to U.S. forces, interest and allies overseas.
We've seen increased trade in cooperation among countries that have been recipients of missile technologies in the past.
And, finally, some countries continue to work toward longer range missiles, including ICBMs.
The missile threats we see develop over the next 15 years will depend heavily on changing relations with these foreign countries -- political, economic situations, the factors that we can't predict with confidence, but we have to project anyway, so we decided that we would project what the countries could do, what countries were likely to do, independent of significant changes. Now, if significant changes occur, then our judgments are going to change. That's the value of doing an annual report.
But just to give you an idea of how difficult projecting 15 years out is, 15 years ago we and the Soviet Union were posturing forces opposite each other in Europe during the Cold War. You wouldn't have projected 15 years ago where we are today. Fifteen years ago Iraq shared common interest with United States. You wouldn't have projected that we'd gone to war and then gone back and bombed them again, or been accurate with those projections.
Finally, we couldn't tell you whether some of the countries of major concern will continue to exist for 15 years, or whether they'll continue to sell missiles and technology 15 years from now.
That said, we are confronted with missile development programs that take a long time and we have to give you our assessments. So we're doing that.
Now recognizing those uncertainties, we projected that during the next 15 years the United States most likely will face ICBM threats from Russia, China and North Korea, probably Iran, and possibly Iraq.
Now I'll pause here for a moment, because one of the things that is of interest to people is that we contrast this with what we did in 1995. This is the whole United States. We're not just talking about the Continental United States, and leaving Hawaii and Alaska out.
At the same time, lest anyone think that I'm trying to take advantage of how close the Aleutian Islands get to Russia, that I'm wanting to use short range missiles to strike the United States, we're not doing that. To avoid that problem, and I'll break one of your rules for a moment here, in the classified version of the NIE we provide range payload curves. Now obviously those curves were going to classified, so I couldn't put those in the unclassified.
What's important about that is anybody can look at that curve and say, oh, well this means they could develop this payload or to send this payload to this range. Now, to help the readers of those curves, we list cities on the curves so that you can see where the things could reach. So that people can see I'm not just talking about Aleutian Islands, here are some of the cities their listed on those charts -- these are unclassified: Bangor, Maine; Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu and Anchorage. So we've covered all of the United States.
Now the Russian threat, while it's going to decrease substantially, will still be the most robust and lethal. China's is going to grow, and the other countries that will emerge are going to have small forces, constrained to small payloads, be less accurate, less reliable.
So the new missile threats are going to be far different from what we faced during the Cold War. Even so they threaten, but in different planes.
North Korea's three stage Taepo Dong I heightens sensitivities and moved earlier projections of the threat from the hypothetical to the real. If flown on a ballistic trajectory with an operable third stage the Taepo Dong I could deliver a small payload to the United States, albeit with significant inaccuracies.
Second, many countries probably assess that the threat alone of longer-range missiles would complicate U.S. decision-making.
Third, the probability that a missile with a weapon of mass destruction will be used against the United States forces or interest is higher today than during most of the Cold War, and that will continue to grow. More nations have used them, and in fact some have use them against U.S. forces, not with weapons of mass destruction. But they have demonstrated a willingness to use those weapons of mass destruction.
Now we project in the coming years that U.S. territory is probably more likely to be attacked by weapons of mass destruction from non-missile delivery, most likely from terrorists or non-state entities than by missiles, primarily because those means are less costly, more reliable and accurate, and they can be used without attribution.
Nevertheless, the missile threat will continue to grow in part because missiles have become important regional weapons in numerous countries' arsenals, and missiles provide a level of prestige, coercive diplomacy and deterrence that non-missile means do not.
Thus, acquiring long-range ballistic missiles armed with these weapons probably will enable weaker countries to deter, constrain and harm the United States. The missiles need not be deployed in large numbers, they need not be accurate or reliable; their strategic value is derived primarily from the threat of their use, not in the near certain outcomes.
Some of the systems are probably intended for potential terror weapons; others, to perform specific military functions, facing the United States with a broad spectrum of motivations, development time lines and resulting hostile capabilities.
The progress toward achieving these longer-range missiles has been demonstrated dramatically over the past 18 months. The Taepo Dong I launch and the Taepo Dong I flight test program has been frozen. I'm sorry, the Taepo Dong II flight test program has been frozen, but for itself could still continue apace.
Pakistan and Iran flight tested a 1300 kilometer range missile. India flight tested a 2,000 kilometer range, Agni II, and China tested its 8,000 kilometer range DF-31 Mobile ICBM.
Now, against this backdrop, let me walk through the projections we make in the NIE. And what I'd like to do is array these by time blocks, blocks of five years. The estimate itself walks through it country by country, but I think sometimes it's helpful to look at a little different way.
So where are we today? The proliferation of medium-range ballistic missiles, driven primarily by North Korea Nodong sales, has created an immediate, serious and growing threat to U.S. forces, interest and allies, and has significantly altered the strategic balances in the regions. As alarming as long-range missile threat is, it should not overshadow the immediacy and seriousness of the threat of these shorter- range systems.
Iran's Shahad III, for example, can reach most of Turkey.
India and Pakistan have growing arsenals postured against each other.
All right, now to the long-range missile front. North Korea's Taepo Dong I could be converted into an ICBM that could deliver small payloads to the United States. Most believe such a conversion is unlikely, especially with a much more capable Taepo Dong II that could be ready for testing at any time. The Taepo Dong II in the two-stage configuration could deliver a several hundred kilogram payload to Alaska and Hawaii and a lighter payload to the western United States. A three-stage Taepo Dong II would be capable of delivering a several hundred kilogram payload anywhere in United States.
Now Russia currently has about 1,000 strategic ballistic missiles, 4500 warheads. We judged that an unauthorized or accidental launch of those missiles is highly unlikely, as long as current technical and procedural safeguards remain.
China's force about 20 CSS-4 ICBMs can reach targets in all of United States, although Beijing almost certainly considers its silos to be vulnerable. China began testing, as I mentioned a moment ago, its first mobile ICBM last year.
Now let's look at the next five years, 2001 through 2005. North Korea, Iran and Iraq could all three test ICBMs of varying capabilities, some capable of delivering several hundred kilogram payloads to the United States. Most believe that the Taepo Dong I program, short of flight testing, is continuing and that North Korea is likely to test the system as a space launched vehicle, unless it continues the freeze.
Some believe that Iran is likely to test some ICBM capabilities in the next few years, most likely as a Taepo Dong type space launch vehicle.
All believe that Iraq is not likely to test an ICBM capable of threatening the United States during this time period.
So there's an example of the could and the likely. They could do it; we judged they're not likely to during the timeframe.
Russia will maintain as many missiles and warheads as it can, but economics are going to drive those numbers below START limitations. We believe that China will test a longer range mobile ICBM in the next several years, as well as the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile. Both o f those will be able to target the United States. China could use that mobile ICBM RV to make a multiple RV payload for its CSS-4. And they're also improving their theatre systems, and while I'm talking about long-range, I can't just skip this. It's important to note that in the next several years China is expected to increase significantly the number of short-range ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan.
Let's turn to the next five years, 2005-2010. Again, all three could test ICBMs. This time all of their ICBMs would be capable of delivering several hundred kilogram payloads. North Korean capabilities to test and threaten would likely remain the same, even with a freeze in place, although non-flight testing aspects of the program are likely to continue.
Some believe Iran is likely to test an ICBM that could threaten the United States before 2010. Others believe there's no more than an even chance of an Iranian test by 2010. And a few believe less than an even chance before 2010. So you can see some of the struggles we have in coming down to likelihood judgment. There's a lot of difference of view. Many factors are involved in that.
Nevertheless, all believe that Iran is likely to test a space- launched vehicle by 2010 that could be converted into an ICBM, capable of delivering a several-hundred kilogram payload to the United States.
Some believe that if Iraq received foreign assistance, that it would be likely to test an ICBM capable of delivering a several hundred payload to the United States.
Russia's forces will continue to fall, and China will continue to test its new systems.
Finally, the last five years. All three again could test more capable ICBMs. Most believe that Iran is likely to test a U.S. threatening ICBM during this time period, one that could deliver a several-hundred kilogram payload. A few believe that's unlikely. Most believe Iraq's first flight test of a U.S.-threatening ICBM is still unlikely before 2015. Some believe it's likely before 2015, and as I said, with foreign assistance before 2010.
If Russia ratifies START II, its numbers will be considerably reduced. START II bans MIRV'ed ICBMs, so there forces would be about half of what they could have without that ban.
By 2015 China will likely have tens of missiles targeted against the United States, mostly land and sea-based mobile missiles with smaller nuclear warheads, in part influenced by U.S. technology gained through espionage.
Now foreign assistance continues to have demonstrable effects on advances around the world. Russia and China's assistance continues to be significant. North Korea may expand sales. And as you noted, Mr. Chairman, we now have second-tier proliferators, those that used to be recipients sharing with others.
Sales of ICBMs or space-launched vehicles could further increase the number of countries or the number of missiles that countries could have. North Korea continues to demonstrate a willingness to sell. Projecting the likelihood of a Russian or Chinese sale is difficult, but we continue to judge unlikely.
That said, I note that in evaluating the risks involved, the likelihood of a sale has to be weighed against the consequences of even one such sale.
Now, I know Congress is interested in our ability to provide warning, which depends highly on our collection capabilities from country to country. Our warnings about North Korea in the past serve as an excellent case study. Six years ago we warned that North Korea was trying to acquire an ICBM. In hindsight, we projected years too soon when North Korea would start testing these vehicles. We projected pretty accurately when they would get a system that could reach ICBM range, but we underestimated the capabilities of the Taepo Dong I.
Now, the point here is that we can project fairly easily what countries are considering doing and what they might be doing. What we can't project with certainty is what the configuration and the performance is going to be until flight test. We weren't aware of the third stage on the Taepo Dong I until after the flight test.
Furthermore, countries practice denial and deception, as I mentioned before, masking things, for example, as a space launch program. A nation with a space launch vehicle could convert it into an ICBM relatively quickly, with little or no chance of detection, before the first flight test. They would have to have an RV. Now, if a country had Russian or Chinese assistance, they could develop an RV covertly, not flight test it, and have some confidence that it would work. If they developed an RV themselves, and we've been told there's enough information in the open to pull this off, they could have a much less degree of confidence in it, but we wouldn't be able to be confident that it would fail. That's an important part of the problem.
Now, several other means of delivering weapons of mass destruction to the United States have probably been devised, some more reliable than ICBMs that we've discussed. The goal of the adversary would be to move the weapon closer to the United States. These means, however, as I noted before, don't provide the prestige, coercive diplomacy or deterrence associated with long-range missiles. They could put the missiles on a ship and bring it closer to the United States, and we would not be able to provide much warning of such an event.
Non-missile delivery means are still of significant concern. They are less expensive than ICBMs, can be covertly deployed and employed, probably would be more reliable, accurate and effective for disseminating biological agents, and would avoid missile defenses. Foreign non-state actors, including some terrorist and extremist groups, have used in the past or are interested in weapons of mass destruction. Mostly these groups have threatened the United States or its interests, and we can't count on obtaining warning of all planned terrorist attacks.
We assess that countries developing ballistic missiles would also develop various responses to U.S. theatre and national defenses. Russia and China have developed numerous countermeasures and are probably willing to sell some technology. Many countries, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq probably would rely initially on readily available technologies -- there's a list in the unclassified paper - to develop penetration aids and countermeasures, and they could do so by the time they flight test their ICBMs.
Finally, we assess that foreign espionage and other collection efforts are likely to increase. I led an interagency team last year to examine China's collection and espionage efforts against the U.S. nuclear information. We have since assessed that China, Iran and others probably are targeting U.S. missile information as well.
That concludes my opening statement, and I'm prepared to take questions.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Mr. Walpole. I'm going to ask one question and then yield to the Chairman of the full Committee who has joined us, along with Senator Levin, who's joined us. We welcome you to our hearing. I'm going to yield to Senator Thompson for questions first. But let me ask you this: The administration says North Korea has agreed to refrain from flight testing its longer-range ballistic missiles during discussions, negotiations that are taking place between our two countries. What effect is that going to have on the program that is underway to develop long-range missiles? Is this going to stop the program, or, if not, will it impede it in any way?
MR. WALPOLE: It's a good thing. Anytime you can constrain a country's program, that's a good thing. But, as I've indicated in my statement, we don't believe the program has ended, and we believe the program, the non-flight testing aspects of the program are continuing.
SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R-TN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your leadership in this area.
Along those lines, I noticed it was reported today in the Washington Times that North Korea sold 12 medium-range ballistic missiles engines to Iran. You may have discussed this before I got here, but they could be used as state boosters for longer-range Iranian missiles.
The same article reported that in the Pentagon's estimate North Korea was continuing with preparations for a test of its newest and longest-range missile, the Taepo Dong II.
How do these reports impact your assessment?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, let me first say that I hate leaks like this. The sad part is the more leaks like this that continue, the harder my job is going to be, and we're not going to be able to give you estimates that have any meaning, because we won't be able to collect anything, so that I think the leak is abominable.
Secondly, since it's a leak, I can't talk about the intelligence aspects of it, but what I can tell you about engines like that in general, those engines are critical. They're critical to the Taepo Dong program, and they would be critical to the Shahad III program and any extensions of the Shahad III program.
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, we have a hard time even ourselves getting information on some of these things. I understand your concern about the leaks. However, there is a growing concern that the American people, and perhaps even Congress doesn't fully comprehend what's going on out there. We continue to read about underground facilities, nobody seems to know what's going on in North Korea, and stories like this. And at the same time, the administration is waiving U.S. economic embargo provisions.
Let me ask you this. This follows up in the assessment of the Rumsfeld Commission. In what material ways -- and just a broad generalization -- what material ways do you agree or disagree with the findings of the Rumsfeld Commission?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, as I indicated in my opening statement, the Rumsfeld Commission laid out what the countries could do. So on our "likely judgments", it would be hard to compare and contrast them with the Commission's report, because they didn't have the likely judgments.
On the "could judgments", they said a country could do it in five years. We have countries doing it sooner than that. So in that sense, we're in line or maybe even quicker than that on the "could" side of the equation.
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, it seems like every major assessment seems to bring it closer. I know your '95 assessment, of course, was much less concerned about the imminence of it, I would say, than -- Rumsfeld came a good ways and now you're going a little further in that respect.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, the '95 estimate only looked at "likely". It didn't look at the "coulds". The problem with comparing the '95 estimate to the Rumsfeld report is it was an apples and oranges thing. The '95 report --
SEN. THOMPSON: You changed your standard -- you changed your standard of analysis somewhat. Or added.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, we added a standard.
SEN. THOMPSON: And some people, of course, have been critical of that, and they talk about, you know, this could happen or that could happen. I think absolutely we need that assessment that you've given us. Clearly, it's an inexact science. Critics, on the other hand say that, you know, the estimate is overblown because, you know, these nations could become friendly or they could, you know, want to have this nuclear option in their own area or --
MR. WALPOLE: That would be great.
SEN. THOMPSON: -- could not perhaps is not as imminent, or treaties could solve the problem and all that. So everybody's dealing to a certain extent in kind of a nebulous area, and most of the critics I think are opposed to a missile defense system, and this is necessary in order for them to get what they need to get many times. But I think in light of -- you know, the Rumsfeld Commission was a unique commission, it seems to me like. I haven't been up here that long, but you had all these people come together, all different levels of relevant expertise from different vantage points, not part of any political group and so forth, and all unanimously coming to the same conclusion. And some of those conclusions is that we really have some real blind spots in terms of being able to tell what's going on, and yet every assessment we get, '95 Rumsfeld Commission, 2000, it is of greater and greater concern. And, of course, you acknowledge from the things that we absolutely know, such as the Taepo Dong II shot across Japan airspace and we were surprised, when objective factors come out. There it seems like it's always on the side of it being a little worse perhaps than what we thought.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, we weren't surprised by the test.
SEN. THOMPSON: The third stage.
MR. WALPOLE: But we were -- and I sure would have liked to have been the analyst that said earlier before that launch that, you know, they could put a third stage on that vehicle and extend its range; that would have been neat. That's why we changed our methodology. We said we've got to think outside the box, we've got to lay out some of these excursions, what could happen; and then step back and evaluate the likelihood of those occurring.
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, you're going to be criticized because you're not absolutely promising things are going to occur, but that's -- to me that's --
MR. WALPOLE: I can live with that.
SEN. THOMPSON: -- fallacious criticism and I think you're doing exactly the right thing.
Let me ask you in the remaining time that I have about the sources of some of these problems, and that has to do with foreign assistance. And our CIA it seems like every year comes up and says, "China is still the world's greatest proliferator, and Russia apparently is not that far behind." You mentioned China and Russia with regard to Iran, North Korea, various items, missile components, technology, know-how, all of that.
Could you give us a fairly concise summary for each of those two countries in terms of what -- unclassified, of course -- as to what they are doing with regard to assistance to the so-called rogue nations?
MR. WALPOLE: And that's the rub. I can't give it unclassified. The best I can say is --
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, you said some things in your report.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, and that was pushing it about as far as I could go. It's that both the assistance from Russia and the assistance from China is significant in the proliferation realm.
SEN. THOMPSON: And that assistance continues?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. THOMPSON: And it has to do -- let me see how far I can go. Does that have to do with both missile components and missile technology?
MR. WALPOLE: It's a mix.
SEN. THOMPSON: All right. I think that's as far as I'll push it.
MR. WALPOLE: Okay, thanks.
SEN. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator Thompson.
Senator Akaka, you want to yield to your senior colleague? I wasn't suggesting that you do so.
SEN. AKAKA: First I want to say that you create a disturbing picture of more and more countries gaining advanced missile technology.
Is it your sense, as other countries develop and improve their own ICBM capability, that they would also develop and improve countermeasures to missile defense systems? Could you describe when you do that some of the countermeasures, which countries such as China, Russia and Iran might take in response to a national missile defense or theatre missile defense program?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah. In the estimate we lay it out what a country could do on the countermeasure side. We didn't make a likelihood judgment. The reason we didn't there is countermeasures are supposed to be just that, measures to counter something else. So until an NMD architecture is laid out, they don't need to commit to one type of countermeasure or another. So we laid out those countermeasures that they could draw from initially, and I'll cover that list here: separating re-entry vehicles, spend stabilized RVs, RV reorientation, radar absorbing material, booster fragmentation, low-power jammers, chaff, simple or balloon decoys. These are all readily available that they could have available, our missile contractors tell us, by the time they flight test their missiles. So they could draw from those.
Now, how sophisticated any of those measures would be would depend on how much effort they put into it. One of the reasons we're reporting on it as early as we are is because you can then have counter-countermeasures, and our military needs to be aware of all of those as well.
So this ends up being an arms race within an arms race that you have to deal with.
SEN. AKAKA: Let me then point out another one. If the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, CTBT, was to come into force, would this constrain the size of future Chinese nuclear weapons, or do you believe that CTBT ratification would limit weapons' development?
MR. WALPOLE: When we did the damage assessment on the China espionage, we did an unclassified "key findings" for that, and I was trying to turn to that. I can't find it readily enough, but I'll just try to remember from memory.
We said in that that China's effort has progressed far enough along that they can do a lot for a number of years with their nuclear development. The implication would be that they don't' need to do a lot of testing at that point.
So the impact would be further down the road than you might think from your question there.
It would constrain others, but some of these other countries may not be interested in testing a nuclear device. They may be satisfied in just having one that will work based on the physics, and not worrying about the test.
But anytime you put countermeasures on the front of a missile you're reducing the payload capability of that missile. You're going to exchange payload for countermeasures and vice versa. So that in the end, of course it's going to have an effect, but it's how much of an effect is going to depend on how dependent they would be on testing in the near term and the long term.
SEN. AKAKA: Mr. Chairman, I have other questions, but I'll wait.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Levin.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Walpole, let me add my welcome and my thanks for your report. It's as always enlightening. The part that's focused on often is the missile threat and it's important that we understand that threat, where it's coming from, who has supplied the technology, including, by the way, as I understand, some of our Western allies have supplied technology. Without getting into classified information, is that generally an accurate statement? It hasn't just come from China and Russia?
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, if you push back far enough, you're statement would be true.
SEN. LEVIN: In addition to giving us your assessment on the missile threat from either terrorist groups or rogue nations, your report also talk about non-missile delivery of weapons of mass destruction, and it seems to me that part of your report is really quite stunning and I want to spend a few minutes on that as well, because I think the part about the missile delivery of weapons of mass destruction will get its proper attention, but what may be overlooked and shouldn't be overlooked are the portions of your report that tell us about the non-missile delivery of weapons of mass destruction. And I want to just read a portion and ask you to comment on it.
In your testimony, you indicate on page 3 that, "We project that in the coming years, U.S. territory is probably more likely to be attacked with weapons of mass destruction from non-missile delivery means, most likely from non-state entities than by missiles."
And then you give one, two, three, four reasons why that is true. And on page 15 of your report, you go into some detail about those reasons.
Non-missile means of delivering, which are the more likely way in which a weapon of mass destruction would be delivered include -- and let me see if I can follow this -- trucks, is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Ships.
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Airplanes.
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Possibly, you indicate, cruise missiles.
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. Now, reason one that it's more likely that one of those non-missile means would be delivering the weapon is that the non-missile delivery option, you say on page 15, is less expensive than developing and producing an ICBM. Is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Second, can be covertly developed and employed, is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: In other words, in your words it could -- the source of the weapon could be masked in an attempt to evade retaliation.
Third, you indicated probably would be more reliable than ICBMs that have not completed rigorous testing and validation programs. Is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: That's correct.
SEN. LEVIN: Fourth, you say they could be more accurate than emerging ICBMs over the next 15 years -- that's your qualifier -- but the accuracy comment relates to over the next 15 years? Is that accurate?
MR. WALPOLE: That's correct.
SEN. LEVIN: Next you say that the non-missile means of delivery is more probably because -- and this is one I want to ask you about -- probably would be more effective for disseminating biological warfare agents than a ballistic missile. And that is a fifth reason why it's more likely that a truck, a ship, a plane would deliver apparently than a ballistic missile, or at least one of those three would be the delivery means rather than a ballistic missile.
And I'd like to ask you, why would a non-missile be probably more effective for disseminating biological warfare agents than a ballistic missile?
MR. WALPOLE: If a highly advanced country like us or Russia were to develop a ballistic missile with a biological -- of course that would violate treaties -- but a biological dispersion mechanism, we'd be able to pull it off and it would be very effective. That's because we do rigorous testing, long flight test programs, we test it every which way.
What we have seen happening here is these countries aren't testing a lot, and so our judgment is what probably would be more effective is if they're doing something on the ground, they can do the testing without doing flight tests, they can put it in the back of a pickup, they can spread it, they can test the aerosolization and make sure that it's going to work. They'd have high confidence that the biological agent either being sprayed or put into a water supply is going to work that way, where they wouldn't be so sure the other way. That's what was really behind that judgment.
SEN. LEVIN: So in your assessment you give five reasons why a non-missile means of delivery would be probably more likely to be used than a missile means of delivery, and then your sixth reason it seems to me is really kind of the bottom line is that all of those means of deliveries would avoid missile defenses. In other words, a missile defense does not defend us against any of those non-missile means of delivery. Is that correct, the truck, the ship, the plane?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes, that's correct. Certain types of cruise missiles would probably be captured by some of the defenses.
SEN. LEVIN: But except for that, the more likely means of delivery would not be defended against by a missile defense?
MR. WALPOLE: Correct.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. Now, I don't think there's been enough attention paid to the entire mix. I think it's important that we see what the threats are, the range of threats, including missiles, but that we also understand the most likely threats, what would defend against them, and where our resources are being placed, as well as what the impact of those means of delivery are, because that's also important. It's not just that a truck is more likely than a missile, but what would be the impact if it were a missile rather than a truck. That also has to be put into the calculation. But there hasn't been nearly enough attention paid to that portion of what you're telling us, it seems to me, than the missile part of what your report focuses on.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, that's why I arrayed it, particularly in the statement, with we think that we're more likely to have U.S. forces and interest struck with a missile, with a weapon of mass destruction, than at most points during the Cold War. But then at the same time I'm saying that to say, but as far as U.S. territory in the coming years, there's other ways to get us that are probably more likely at this point.
SEN. LEVIN: Now, I want to go back to the Cold War, because at some point during the Cold War, and we still have a Cold War going on with North Korea -- it still is a confrontation. It's not a --
MR. WALPOLE: That's probably an apt terminology for it, yes.
SEN. LEVIN: North Korea had missiles -- short-range, or medium- range missiles, against which we had no defense for many years. Is that correct? In other words, we put in Patriot Missiles a few years ago to defend against North Korean missiles, but until then there was no defense against those missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: That's correct.
SEN. LEVIN: Do you know what that length of time was offhand?
MR. WALPOLE: I don't know the length.
SEN. LEVIN: But is it fair to say that there was a period of time before we got the Patriot Missiles into South Korea that there was no missile defense against their medium or short-range missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: I think that's accurate.
SEN. LEVIN: Now, during that period of time they did not use -- North Korea did not use those missiles, although there was no defense against them. What was the assessment of the intelligence community during that period of time as to the likelihood of the use of the missile by North Korea, even though it faced no missile defense? Can you remember what your assessment was?
MR. WALPOLE: I can't. That would be interesting to kind of go back and look at, and the same would be true of artillery.
SEN. LEVIN: Would you do that for us?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Walpole, I was asking you a few questions about North Korea and the fact that during these discussions they've refrained from flight testing their ballistic missiles. And you indicated that this doesn't mean that they've stopped the development of the long-range missile program. What kind activity specifically can you tell us could be conducted or do you expect would be likely to be conducted by North Korea during this period of time, when they are not actually flight testing their missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, there's a lot of aspects of a missile program that are not flight testing. Any of the production, any of the ground testing, whether you're doing ground testing of engines, whether you're doing testing of propellant or fuel tanks, whether you're doing electronic checkout of various components, telemetry systems; I mean, you can do all of that kind of activity and not have it be part of the flight testing.
SEN. COCHRAN: All right, do you expect that it is going on at this time?
MR. WALPOLE: Our judgment is that they are probably -- that they are continuing the program. Now, I was purposely using a generic list to talk about, so I didn't talk specifically about anything we have or have not seen.
SEN. COCHRAN: How would you characterize the status of the Taepo Dong II program in North Korea?
MR. WALPOLE: That the program is still alive.
SEN. COCHRAN: One witness who testified before our Committee was John Pike, who is -- he may be the Federation of American Scientists, or at least he's done of them, if he's not all of them. But he said, when he was testifying before the Committee, and I'm going to quote, "It is quite evident that the Taepo Dong launch facility was not intended to support, in many respects is incapable of supporting the extensive test program that would be needed to fully develop a reliable missile system."
Do you agree with his conclusion?
MR. WALPOLE: Let me rephrase his conclusion, and then I'll -- that it certainly wouldn't support a robust U.S. or former Soviet flight test program. Then I would agree with him. But where I would disagree with him is it supported a nearly successful space launch. It supported a nearly successful test of a system that if flown on a ballistic missile trajectory could deliver a payload to the United States.
So it's part of that we have to get out of this mindset that everybody has to do it our way.
SEN. COCHRAN: Does North Korea need an extensive test program to develop its Taepo Dong II ballistic missile?
MR. WALPOLE: An extensive one, no.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is a long and extensive test program characteristic of previous North Korea practices?
MR. WALPOLE: No.
SEN. COCHRAN: Does North Korea need to flank test its Taepo Dong II missile before deploying it?
MR. WALPOLE: That's an easy answer. The easy answer is no; anybody can deploy whatever they want. The question is going to be what kind of confidence would they have in a system that they haven't flown?
SEN. COCHRAN: Well, should we conclude from this that North Korea's level of confidence in its ballistic missiles is different from the United States?
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, I would conclude that. Their confidence is different, but their need for confidence would probably be different as well.
SEN. COCHRAN: And why is that? Could you explain why and in what ways the required confidence levels differ between the United States and countries like North Korea?
MR. WALPOLE: Our missiles were designed to be counter-force missiles. We were going after silos. If you didn't get the silo, the missile coming back at you is going to have multiple nuclear warheads on it, so you wanted to eliminate that silo and make sure that the missile couldn't be used. That required highly reliable, highly accurate systems. If you're doing a counter-value, that is going after populations, it doesn't require that kind of reliability, that kind of accuracy.
Now, obviously North Korea wouldn't want to have a dud and say, "We're going to launch at you," and then fire something that duds. We'd love it to be a dud. But, I mean, there's a big difference I what they're going after, what they would want to threaten and what we would want to threaten. Remembering, of course, that if North Korea launched, they would probably view it as one of their last acts.
SEN. COCHRAN: That leads me to this next question, which is that some are suggesting that the capacity to send a long-range missile to the United States is the reason why some rogue states may want to possess an effective ballistic missile system. But the NIE says, "In many ways, such weapons are not envisioned at the outset as operational weapons of war, but primarily as strategic weapons of deterrence and coercive diplomacy."
Is it your view that this is of significant utility for rogue states to merely possess intercontinental ballistic missiles, even if they're not used?
MR. WALPOLE: The short answer is yes, I think that they view it as significant. If nothing else, as a bargaining chip. And I guess the case I would make is look at what North Korea has been able to accomplish just with having had a failed space launch attempt, and an untested Taepo Dong II. I mean, I think it falls into the category, of course, of diplomacy.
So, yeah, I think they see this as valuable.
SEN. COCHRAN: The term "emergency operational capability" has been used before in briefings of our Subcommittee and also in the semiannual report to Congress on proliferation. What is meant by the phrase, "emergency operational capability" and how does it differ from the term "deployment" as it is used in connection with ballistic missile systems?
MR. WALPOLE: I didn't like the term emergency operational capability, and that's why we used in our report initial threat availability. Emergency conjures in my mind fire trucks and rescue squad and stuff, and that's just my bias. But what emergency operational capability means is that before deployment, before having a robust test program, where something is fully integrated into the doctrine and military of a country, they could launch that for military purposes and have some operational value. I don't know how emergency fits into that, unless it's because somebody else is attacking you.
That's why we thought it was better characterized with initial threat availability. They can threaten to use this as soon as the thing can fly.
Now, how that differs from deployment -- and I kind of defined that a moment ago -- fully integrated into the doctrine and the military forces of the country in question -- that's what we mean by deployment.
SEN. COCHRAN: Well, how many rogue states do you think will be likely to have that kind of capability by the year 2005?
MR. WALPOLE: The initial threat availability?
SEN. COCHRAN: Right. It used to be the emergency operational capability, but now you call it the initial threat availability.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, and you said "likely."
SEN. COCHRAN: Yes, I said likely.
MR. WALPOLE: We're talking likely. On the likely side, what the intelligence community obviously has said by 2005 is North Korea, China and Russia, of course, but North Korea, that most agencies are saying unlikely for Iran and unlikely for Iraq.
As you remember, there was earlier in my statement about some believe that Iran could try to test a Taepo Dong I copy in the next few years. I'm one of those some.
And so a direct answer to your question, I think Iran will fall into that category.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Thompson, do you have any other questions for this witness?
SEN. THOMPSON: Just a few, Mr. Chairman.
On the issue of what is the major threat, the most imminent threat, clearly we should be preparing for the full range of threats that this new world is bringing us. But I know last year the president requested and I think got a request for $10 billion to deal with terrorist threats, with regard to weapons of mass destruction. So with regard to those truck bombs and things like that, it's not exactly like we're not doing anything; $10 billion. So I suggest we compare that with what we're doing in terms of the other threat, whether it's a little smaller threat or a greater threat or whatever.
And I was thinking about clearly it's easier in some respects, I guess, to carry out an act of domestic terrorism. On the other hand, there are some factors mitigating toward missiles, I would say, as to an alternative for a rogue nation, as opposed to terrorism, and one has been touched on, and that has to do with prestige.
Why is North Korea, a country whose people are literally starving to death, putting the resources that they are into their missile program, if not for the factors that you've been talking about -- prestige and the coercive ability that that would bring? Is that a correct assessment, do you think?
MR. WALPOLE: I think it's a good assessment.
SEN. THOMPSON: Also, what about the regional threat that missiles would bring? What about our troop vulnerability and our allies and all of that? I mean, that has nothing to do with domestic terrorism as far as we're concerned, but it certainly would bring us into the mix big time, just as much as if we were attacked ourselves, probably.
MR. WALPOLE: And that's here and now.
SEN. THOMPSON: That's here and now. What do you mean by that?
MR. WALPOLE: I mean the medium-range, short-range ballistic missile threat to our troops and our interest and allies overseas is already there.
That's not waiting for flight testing or anything else. The Shahad III can already reach three-fourths of the way into Turkey. That's NATO.
SEN. THOMPSON: Well, I was going to ask you about Europe in general. Could you elaborate on that a bit in terms of vulnerability of our allies with regard to this?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, it's basically Turkey at this point, because you would have to get a few thousand kilometer missile from Iran to be able to capture, as I recall looking at the range the other day, it had to be about 2,500 for Iran to reach Italy and almost 4,000 to reach France. So you have to get some longer-range systems to get out there. They're coming. Those systems are coming down the road, and it's --
SEN. THOMPSON: Are we sharing our assessments with our NATO allies?
MR. WALPOLE: Absolutely. Absolutely. I have personally been to the UK to brief, to France to brief. I've been to Geneva and briefed the Russians on, you know, where we saw this. My deputy has been to Denmark, and in fact he's meeting with the Danes today to go over it again. I mean, we have spent time with the allies. We made -- there are so many versions of this NIE out at this point. We have a secret releasable NATO version, and a secret releasable allies version that's got obviously more information than the unclassified version to get out to people. We're trying to get this message out.
SEN. THOMPSON: I don't want to discourage you, but some of us just came back from the Prukunda (ph) Conference over in Munich, and the Russian representative said that our concern with nuclear proliferation was fantasy. And so you've got --
MR. WALPOLE: He said that to me, too.
SEN. THOMPSON: You've got more work to do.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, they said that to me, and that's when I coined the phrase that, "I'm sorry." It was a general, and I said, "Sorry, general, but the Taepo Dong I launch moved us from hypothetical or fantasy to real." It flew. We know what it can deliver. It's no longer just a hypothetical issue.
SEN. THOMPSON: And that made -- after we received a round of criticism, I responded that I thought it was ironic that the countries that were complaining so much about our proposed missile defense system were the main causes of our need for one, that is China and Russia's proliferation.
MR. WALPOLE: I'd concur with that.
SEN. THOMPSON: The Chinese responded that that was unfounded, so that settled that matter.
MR. WALPOLE: They know better than that.
SEN. THOMPSON: You mentioned, too, that part of the Chinese development of their own capabilities will be based upon our U.S. technology and some of it drive through espionage. Is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah.
SEN. THOMPSON: How does your assessment comport with the Cox Report's conclusions along those lines?
MR. WALPOLE: In the general sense it comported all right. The Cox Report used a little different definition of espionage. We determined that -- and I can't say one is right or wrong, but we had determined that if the information was available through some other means, even though it was classified, but it had been available because of a leak or something else, we wouldn't throw that into the espionage pot. We only called espionage what we knew couldn't have been obtained through any other means, because then we could prove espionage took place.
The Cox Report said, "No, if it's classified, we're going to count it as espionage." I can't prove which is right, because you'd have to get into the Chinese people that collected it and sort it out.
SEN. THOMPSON: But even by your definition, you concluded that some of their advancement was based on espionage in obtaining of our technology?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, we concluded that they did conduct espionage and influenced their program and their systems would look more like ours, even though they'll be different because they have deficiencies and their own requirements.
SEN. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Akaka.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to learn more about new missile states and the threat that they are to us, and ask you to describe those threat. For instance, the Iranians, as you testified have been working on medium- range missiles. Do the Iranians now have the ability to develop on their own engines for their medium-range missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: You know, that's an interesting question, because unlike Pakistan, who basically got the Nodong and called it the Ghauri, Iran got the Nodong and wanted to work with it with Russian assistance to make their own systems. They want to have more hands-on involvement. And I don't know how to answer the question unclassified, other than they have certainly gotten Russian assistance to help with making that conversation.
That said, you know, overnight they could change their minds and follow the Pakistan route, just buy them and be done with it.
SEN. AKAKA: And what have you been alluding to if they don't have the ability now? Do you have an estimate as to when they might be capable of developing one?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, I don't think there's any question that Iran has the capability of developing engines. Yeah, I'm sorry --
SEN. AKAKA: Can they do it without --
MR. WALPOLE: -- I should have answered that part. Iran certainly has the ability to develop engines. Whether they would be able to develop exactly the same as a Nodong engine, or something else, and then advance it from that, would be what their program would set up to do.
SEN. AKAKA: Do you think they can develop it without outside support?
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, they could. It would take them longer, but they could.
SEN. AKAKA: How would you describe the contributions made by Russia, China and North Korea to the Iranian missile program?
MR. WALPOLE: That's what Senator Thompson tried. I've gone about as far as I can in an open session on that one. Sorry.
SEN. AKAKA: Well --
MR. WALPOLE: Well, see, if I start to tell you what we know, then the way we -- they'll figure out how we figured it out, and we won't pick it up next time.
SEN. AKAKA: Well, if you can answer this, in your opinion, who has provided the most help to Iran, of those countries?
MR. WALPOLE: You know, I don't know that I've ever thought about tallying it up that way, because they've both helped in different ways.
SEN. AKAKA: Well, let me ask you about North Korea's missile program. The North Koreans tested a three-stage missile, Taepo Dong I, as you testified. How large a warhead could it carry over the distance necessary to hit the United States? In your -- you did say that -- you mentioned a light warhead. And then my question in that is what is a light warhead and how much damage could it cause?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, let me -- because I can't give the numbers unclassified, but when I'm using terms like light and small, we're talking more in terms of a biological or a chemical sized warhead.
When I used the phrase "several hundred kilograms" at that point I think you can figure, "Oh, well somebody could make a nuclear weapon if it's several hundred kilograms." And that's how we separated it.
So in answer to your question, the Taepo Dong I could deliver a small, that is biological or chemical warhead to the United States.
SEN. AKAKA: In your testimony you seem to indicate that it is unlikely that the North Korea's would place a weapon on this three- stage missile, and that they would more likely put it on the Taepo Dong II. First, why do you draw that conclusion, and since the Taepo Dong II has not been tested how can you be certain it is a much more capable missile, as you say, in your testimony?
MR. WALPOLE: Trust us. No. (Laughter.) We have sufficient intelligence on both missiles to know that one is a whole lot more capable than the other. I think you've seen line drawings in the open on the two, and the Taepo Dong II is a lot larger, and, in fact, the Taepo Dong II second stage is the first stage of the Taepo Dong I, just to give you an idea of how much bigger it is.
We feel -- and I can't go into the intelligence behind it, but we feel they basically moved from the Taepo Dong I to the Taepo Dong II effort, and that's why our judgment is they're unlikely to weaponize the Taepo Dong I with the Taepo Dong II around the corner.
Now if you were to ask me the question, "Well, what if they were to freeze flight testing from now on? Would they then be forced to use the Taepo Dong I?" Yeah, but remember it failed, so they have a tested but not successful version, or an untested and they have no idea how successful it would, their other missile, and which one are they going to put their confidence in, particularly since one would have range to reach further than the other. I can't get into it to sort that out.
SEN. AKAKA: Well, it might be a possibility if tested it might fail.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah.
SEN. AKAKA: Do you have an opinion as to which country historically has been the greatest proliferator? I mean, which country has provided the most assistance on missiles to the greatest number of other states?
MR. WALPOLE: You know, a few years ago it would have been easy; it would have been Russia, but North Korea's been doing so much that that's a hard call. The problem is do you calculate that based on the amount of stuff, hardware, or do you calculate that based on the amount of know-how, or would you calculate that based on the impact that it's had on country's programs? Now, I would rather do it on the latter, but that's one I haven't calculated. I have a much better idea of these two, but they could be artificial answers. I think the impact on the program's going to be the critical answer and I don't know the answer to that.
SEN. AKAKA: Senator Levin had asked this question, but I want to ask it again. We have a situation in which a lot of states have developed short-range missiles for use in wartime. There are a few states that are developing weapons of mass destruction. Pretty much those same states, if left unchecked, would probably develop long- range missiles that could hit the United States. If they do develop these weapons and missiles, it will probably do less for offensive military reasons and more for diplomatic prestige or deter attack.
If these states wanted to attack the United States, they might more likely use something like a cruise missile from an offshore ship or a submarine or a ship container in an ICBM to deliver their weapons.
Would you agree with that statement or not?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, it's pretty close to what we had said in the estimate. The struggle, when you start getting down to use -- we've been talking about missile threats -- now if we start to come down to use, it depends a lot on the conditions. If the country were going to use it, because they knew they were going down, and it was just, "we're going to get back at you before we go", then they don't have time to use one of these terrorist techniques. Then they would launch a missile, because they're going down anyway.
If they're trying to damage the United States with it being attributable, then a missile is not the way you're going to want to do it, because we're going to figure out where it came from. They would want to use some other means to that end.
So the whole use question comes down to it's very scenario dependent. And when it starts coming down to U.S. population or risk, those scenarios need to be looked at closely.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much for your responses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Levin.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In terms of the diplomatic pressure or the prestige or the intimidation factor, North Korea has had our troops at risk for decades, have they not, through their medium-range missile?
MR. WALPOLE: Artillery.
SEN. LEVIN: And artillery. Just talking missiles for a moment, their medium-range missiles.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, Scuds, short-range missiles.
SEN. LEVIN: And short-range. Medium and short-range missiles have had our troops at risk for decades?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, not medium for decades. Short. I don't remember -- I honestly don't remember when the SCUD was first produced.
SEN. LEVIN: Okay. Well, they've had --
MR. WALPOLE: But it's been many a year.
SEN. LEVIN: It's been a long time that our troops have been at risk from North Korean missiles.
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Have they -- and our means of defense against those missiles for a long period of time was deterrence, threat of retaliation against them if they would use it? Before we had a Patriot, was that not the only defense we had against an incoming missile would be deterrence and retaliation?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, we didn't have a defense, but deterrence you could argue would have been a play, yes.
SEN. LEVIN: Did the presence of those missiles achieve any diplomatic -- those missiles -- achieve any diplomatic gains for North Korea? In other words, our troops were at risk just the way the population will someday be at risk --
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah.
SEN. LEVIN: -- against a North Korean weapon of mass destruction, be it a truck bomb or be it a long-range missile. Our population, well the troops are part of our population.
MR. WALPOLE: They're part of our population, but since our troops -- and that's why I throw artillery into the equation.
Since we have sent troops over there for decades, knowing that they were at risk to artillery, when the Scuds were added to the deck, you'd have to ask the military how they calculated this, but for my calculation when the Scuds were added it was just to the added threat, but we knew we were putting our troops in harm's way anytime you went to North Korea or South Korea or anywhere near the DMZ.
That's a different equation than our population that didn't join the military and didn't get sent near the DMZ to be at risk.
SEN. LEVIN: Not in my book. I don't have the slightest doubt that if North Korea attacked our troops with artillery or missiles, that our response would be massive, direct, immediate. I don't have the slightest -- and I hope North Korea doesn't have the slightest doubt.
MR. WALPOLE: I hope not either.
SEN. LEVIN: And I don't think there would be any difference. I think that would be considered an attack on us to the same extent as if they were aiming --
MR. WALPOLE: That's true, but, see, I thought you were asking in terms of coercive diplomacy against us. But I think when you're holding a population in our homeland at risk, there is a different value relative to constraining U.S. options elsewhere than simply in an area where you know you're already still a part of the Cold War. That was the struggle I was having was how to equate coercive diplomacy in the two scenarios.
SEN. LEVIN: Do you believe that North Korea's likely to deploy or use a ballistic missile that has never been flight tested? I know they can. Anybody can deploy one.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, I know.
SEN. LEVIN: My question is likelihood. Are they likely to?
MR. WALPOLE: Deploy starts to seem really unlikely. Use? As I said, you kind of start walking down these scenarios. If you've got it available, I'd try it. Still, I mean -- SEN. LEVIN: What's the scenario in which -- I mean, you're talking about the suicide scenario.
MR. WALPOLE: The scenario where you're going -- you're losing everything anyway --
SEN. LEVIN: All right.
MR. WALPOLE: -- whether it's been flight tested or not. I mean, you could sit there and watch it and say, "Gee, it's too bad we didn't flight test it."
SEN. LEVIN: All right, you're talking about the suicide scenario?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, and somebody says, "We'll flight test it now."
SEN. LEVIN: All right.
MR. WALPOLE: Put some coordinates in.
SEN. LEVIN: Okay. But you're talking about the suicide scenario?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. I got it. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Senator.
The unclassified summary of the NIE states that Iran is the next most likely country after North Korea to pose a threat to the United States. The report lists several possible dates for when Iran could first flight test an ICBM. What is your assessment, as the National Intelligence Officer, of when Iran will be capable of testing an ICBM?
MR. WALPOLE: Capable of testing, the community basically agrees in the next few years. Likely to test, as I said in an earlier answer, my view falls with the some that says also sometime in the next few years they'll test on that could reach the United States.
SEN. COCHRAN: Do you think Iran has made the decision to build an ICBM?
MR. WALPOLE: I do, yes. But there's not agreement on that.
SEN. COCHRAN: Well, how will we know if Iran has made such a decision?
MR. WALPOLE: Sometimes you just won't know until you either see the item or it's flown.
SEN. COCHRAN: What is your level of confidence that we will know when a decision has been made?
MR. WALPOLE: As I said earlier in my testimony, I think we do a pretty good job of projecting countries' efforts and what they're striving for. But the specific performance and configuration we have is more difficult. So I'd say we're pretty good at laying out programs of concern.
SEN. COCHRAN: Given the transfer of technology between North Korea and Iran, should we expect North Korea to transfer an ICBM, such as the three-stage Taepo Dong I missile to Iran?
MR. WALPOLE: I guess we could see that. I mean, I guess I wouldn't be surprised if I were to see that happen. I think if Iran were going to try to do a Taepo Dong I type system that it would probably try to do it itself.
SEN. COCHRAN: What components does Iran need to build a three- stage Taepo Dong I?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, a Taepo Dong I is basically the Nodong for the first stage, which they've got the Shahad III, a SCUD for the second stage, and then they would need a third stage. And they've got the technology to put that all together.
SEN. COCHRAN: Could North Korea also transfer the more capable Taepo Dong II to Iran?
MR. WALPOLE: They could.
SEN. COCHRAN: Your report says -- and I'm going to quote, "Some countries that have traditionally been recipients of foreign missile technology are now sharing more among themselves and are pursuing cooperative missile ventures."
Do rogue states have technology that would be useful for them to proliferate to other nations?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: What are the consequences of this trade, this proliferation?
MR. WALPOLE: It makes it harder to have the kind of impact you want export control laws to have. Now you're using countries that didn't care about the export control laws in the first place, and now you're trying to convince them, don't share with others. It was one thing to convince Russia and China to back off. It's totally different to tell North Korea and Iran to back off.
SEN. COCHRAN: Will this trade accelerate the ability of rogue states to develop or acquire ballistic missiles that threaten the United States?
MR. WALPOLE: I believe it will.
SEN. COCHRAN: What incentives are there for the rogue states to trade among themselves?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, I think there's financial incentive. I think there is the prestige incentive.
There's the cooperative venture incentive, where one country works on one aspect of a weapons program, another works on another.
SEN. COCHRAN: Will the ballistic missile trade between rogue states make it more difficult for the intelligence community to monitor and gauge the extent of proliferation?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, because there's just going to be many more targets to go after.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is it fair to say that missile proliferation to and among rogue states is not abating?
MR. WALPOLE: That's a pretty bold statement. I mean, proliferation is continuing, but we haven't seen the complete sale of a missile in a number of years. We had the M-11 from China to Pakistan. We haven't seen that. We had CSS-2s from China to Saudi Arabia. We haven't seen that. So in that sense we've seen things, you know, drop down some, but we're continuing to see trade.
SEN. COCHRAN: This is the first National Intelligence Estimate on the ballistic missile threat since 1995. Does this NIE place greater emphasis on the contribution of foreign assistance to a country's ballistic missile program than the 1995 NIE did? And if so, why?
MR. WALPOLE: The 1995 NIE I think gave some credit to MTCR that then didn't come to fruition. I didn't stop things the way that perhaps the '95 estimate thought that it would. So yeah, foreign assistance is a big player.
SEN. COCHRAN: This assessment of the capabilities of rogue states greatly contrasts with the assessment presented by the intelligence community in the 1995 NIE. For example, the 1995 NIE stated that Iran would not be able to develop an ICBM before 2010 because it lacked the economic resources and technological infrastructure. Yet the unclassified summary of the 1999 NIE states that Iran could flight test a Taepo Dong-style missile with ICBM ranges in the next few years.
These two estimates were written only four years apart. What has caused such a dramatic change in the estimates of when these countries could develop long range ballistic missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: The '95 estimate didn't talk about when the countries could develop these missiles. The '95 NIE talked about when the countries would likely develop these missiles. And if you look at the '95 judgments about Iran, and compare those, and remember it was talking about deployment -- not initial flight -- and compare that to the '99 estimate, then you're not going to see as stark a difference. So the could standard changed that a little bit.
Now on top of that, I think the idea of a copycat Taepo Dong I ICBM had not been contemplated in the '95 NIE. So there's those two differences.
SEN. COCHRAN: A nonproliferation brief released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace criticized the NIE for not taking in to account the political factors that could change the nature of the threat. This brief suggests the threat from Iran, Iran and North Korea could disappear due to future changes in the political nature of these countries. In the NIE what assumptions did you make regarding US relations with those states that are pursuing ballistic missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: First off I take deference with the earlier comment. We did take into account political and economic factors. What we say in the unclassified paper is we did it independent of significant political or economic change; that is we've projected what North Korea could do over 15 years, but if something changes, if there's unification or whatever, that could change all of that. We didn't assume a major change like that in making our projections.
And you could do the same thing with Iran. If Iran all of a sudden became a friend and see gee, we're not going to do this, we're going to do a space launch program, what we did is project what they could do technologically, economically, and given the current political situation in the country and what is expected then.
SEN. COCHRAN: Do you think it is likely or realistic to expect that all of the ballistic missile threats to the United States will disappear before 2015?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, I wish but I don't think it's likely.
SEN. COCHRAN: Without regard to specific countries do you think the United States will face an ICBM threat from rogue states?
MR. WALPOLE: When?
SEN. COCHRAN: Before 2015.
MR. WALPOLE: Oh before 2015, yes. I don't like the term rogue state, but --
SEN. COCHRAN: How could we better describe that? Wouldn't it be more politically -- MR. WALPOLE: I've tried to come up with emerging threats and so on, I just decided no, I'm just going to say North Korea, Iran, Iraq. It takes me a little longer, but I can live with it.
SEN. COCHRAN: Well I was curious, just for my own benefit. I feel bad calling them rogue states. It has serious outlaw connotations doesn't it?
MR. WALPOLE: It has a lot of connotations that just don't necessarily apply, so I just stopped using it.
SEN. COCHRAN: We'll try to find another word. Maybe just naming the countries would be the best thing to do. The NIE states that nations like North Korea and Iran would develop countermeasures and penetration aids by the time they flight test their long range ballistic missiles. Are the countermeasures you listed as sophisticated as we would expect to see in a Russian ballistic missile?
MR. WALPOLE: No.
SEN. COCHRAN: If countermeasures were present would they be rudimentary at first and then become more sophisticated over time, or would these nations be able to deploy the more sophisticated countermeasures and penetration aids from the start?
MR. WALPOLE: Now you're talking in terms of a different spectrum. Rudimentary has a lot of connotations to it. They'll be able to deploy what's available out there in technology today, which I think is a little better than rudimentary, and certainly not as sophisticated as what we, the Russians or the Chinese (have ?).
SEN. COCHRAN: The NIE does not say that these nations will deploy these countermeasures and penetration aids on their ballistic missiles. Do you think they're likely to deploy these systems?
MR. WALPOLE: That was the discussion we had earlier in terms of their countermeasures, so it's hard -- likely.
SEN. COCHRAN: In testimony last week the director of Central Intelligence said quote "Iran's emergence as a secondary supplier of this technology -- missile technology -- to other countries is the trend that worries me the most." I used that in my opening statement and quoted it. Why is that threat so worrisome in your opinion?
MR. WALPOLE: As I said a bit ago, because now you're getting the ones we don't have as much influence over. It's one thing with our Western allies, then with Russia and China, now we're moving to a group that we even have less influence over to try and get them not to share. Bleak.
SEN. COCHRAN: In addition to Iran's ballistic missile force I'm concerned about Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Recent press reports have claimed that the CIA cannot rule out the possibility that Iran has the ability to build nuclear weapons. Does Iran have the ability to build nuclear weapons?
MR. WALPOLE: There's another example of a leak that I would just as soon not have had occur. Iran has had a nuclear weapons program for some time and I'll make one other comment. There is a lot of information available in the open on how to put together a nuclear device, let's just leave my unclassified answer there.
SEN. COCHRAN: When was the last time you conducted an NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program?
MR. WALPOLE: Several years ago.
SEN. COCHRAN: Are you working on a new or updated NIE based on this new information?
MR. WALPOLE: We are, actually we have been for a little while, but when we end up with leaks like occurred, it makes it harder to pursue.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Thompson, do you have any --
Sen. Thompson: No further questions Mr. Chairman thank you very much. One observation, perhaps, in listening to you it reminds me of the policy decisions that Congress is going to have to address, in addition to the question of missile defense. It seems to me like three things are going on here. One, continuing, accelerating threat. Two, continuing aid and comfort by Russia and China. And third, our continuing to embrace and assist Russia and China without imposing any cost to them whatsoever for what they're doing.
We're spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Russia now to help protect the nuclear stockpile, and their scientists and so forth. We don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot by cutting that off. On the other hand, do we know where that money is really going? You know most people, especially those of us who are free traders, we've got to consider the WTO and normal trade relations with China now. We call them our strategic partners while they continue, and we continue to catch them, and they continue to deny or deny ad promise they won't do it again. Sign a new piece of paper.
That M-11 missile situation, we only can see the missile canisters in Pakistan. We're not sure the missiles are in the canisters. And other hoops the administration has jumped through in order to deny -- in order to keep from applying sanctions that our law requires. So, you know, it's a very complex situation, our relationship with Russia and China right now. But how in the world can we justify continuing down the roads that we're going with them, as much as we want normal relations with them in every respect, while they continue to arm people who are direct threats to this country?
Those are the things that we've got on our plate. Thank you.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Senator Cochran, further questions? Senator Levin, any other questions?
SEN. LEVIN: Just a couple more. On page ten of your report you indicate that there is a difference among analysts as to the likely timing of Iran's first flight test.
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. LEVIN: You've got some analysts are saying it's likely before 2010, very likely before 2015. You have another group saying no more than an even chance by 2010, better than even chance by 2015. And a third group says less than an even chance by 2015. I think you fall in the first group, personally, do you?
MR. WALPOLE: I do.
SEN. LEVIN: Which is the dominant or the majority view among the analysts, because those are three different assessments?
MR. WALPOLE: There isn't a dominant. I mean, at least the first two have the most analysts in it. And to be fair, all three are defensible, justifiable positions. The first one, the one that I'm in, looked at what Iran could do and then factored with that -- now we've been surprised by third stages, we've been surprised by people deploying things after only a few flight test -- so we'll take what they could do and add a few years for problems, and that's what we're going to put down.
The second group said wait a minute, this is still rocket science. This is rocket science, it isn't all that easy, so the problems are going to be more than you think they're going to be, so they add a little bit more.
The third group says on top of being rocket science and real hard, there's a lot of political factors that could just dissuade them from going down this path. Now given what I've said about projecting 15 years out, I can't tell you which one of those is right. I've chosen one because I think it's more likely -- most likely, but they're all three defensible position.
SEN. LEVIN: And when you talk about would-do, could-do, you're always talking here about development and deployment. You're not talking about likelihoods of use. In all cases, you are not saying that there's a likelihood of use by any of these countries. Is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: No.
SEN. LEVIN: And finally, would you give us a list of countries that have assisted in the technical support and provision of technical information or of things to any of these three countries -- I'll call them rogue states, I don't mind, I'll use the term rogue states; including any of our allies that have provided technology, technical assistance or pieces or parts. Would you give us that for the record?
It's not just China or Russia. I mean we've got allies who have supported technology transfers of information which has assisted in the development of missile programs on the part of countries that we are worried about. So we ought to see a much more complete list than just China and Russia, although they have obviously been involved. So would you give us that list of countries?
MR. WALPOLE: Do you want that classified?
SEN. LEVIN: Either way.
MR. WALPOLE: Either way, okay.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you Senator. Mr. Walpole thank you so much for being here today and presenting the unclassified summary for us to discuss. We appreciate your cooperation and assistance to our committee very much. Thank you.
We now have a panel of two witnesses. Mr. William Schneider Jr. of the Hudson Institute and Mr. Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to discuss the assessment of the ballistic missile threat. We're going to ask Mr. Schneider to make whatever comments -- we have copies of statements that have been furnished to the committee by both witnesses which we appreciate very much and we will print them in the record of our hearing in full. And encourage you to make whatever summary comments you think would be helpful to our understanding of your views on this assessment of the National Intelligence Estimate.
Mr. Schneider you may proceed:
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER JR.
Adjunct Fellow, Hudson Institute
MR. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER JR.: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and I appreciate the privilege to appear before this subcommittee. I will truncate my remarks as you suggest and submit the copy of my remarks for the record. I just would like to emphasize a couple of points.
First I think the NIE as published is an excellent document and adds materially to the understanding of the phenomenon of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. And I think the most enduring contribution of this NIE has been the reflection the intelligence community has undertaken about the methodology by which they assess the evidence they have acquired. And the fact that the community has done such a thorough review, I think, will benefit many other areas of national security concern to the United States and not merely the question of foreign missiles.
Much of my information about this subject has been derived from my service on the Rumsfeld Commission and the conclusions obtained during that deliberation and the findings associated with it, I believe, still obtain.
And I have included a copy of the executive summary of that report if the committee cares to publish it, I will submit it.
Finally, just a few brief observations on some of the points in the commission's report. First on the question of motivation for the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Given the character of the effort that has been undertaken by North Korea and Iran in particular, while both countries are friendly to the use of terrorism and have done rather spectacular things through the use of terrorist techniques, I think the scale of the effort that has been undertaken suggests that these are intended for coercive purposes, for purposes of advancing their agenda as part of keeping the United States and other parties out of intervening in the regions of concern.
One other factor that I think is stimulating the trend towards the development of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that may not stop with Iran and North Korea is the enormous gains that the United States is making in advanced conventional weapons, to the point where the traditional conventional military power is of rapidly growing obsolescence. And this, I think, is pushing a lot of the poorer countries such as North Korea and Iran towards weapons of mass destruction.
They have always used the ballistic missiles because SCUDS have been available for many years. They were developed by the Soviet Union based on German V-2 rocket technology. But the idea of moving to ranges where they can directly threaten the homeland of the nation's that might intervene in regional disputes in which they have an interest, I think tips the scales in favor of a sustained interest in pursuing long range missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Finally on the question of foreign assistance, I think it's a question that deserves a good deal of understanding and study simply because the problem has changed radically since the liberalization of access to advanced technology since the end of the Cold War. One of the most prominent sources of information on nuclear weapon design comes from the United States because of the vast amount of material that has been declassified in recent years. Some of it's available on the websites of various organizations and it does provide material assistance on the design, manufacture, support and deployment of weapons of mass destruction.
Finally, I think this new NIE is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the scope and maturity of the missile threat. In the past two days we've seen press reports, or leaks, that suggests that there's still a substantial amount of energy left in the proliferation problem. The situation now is that the executive branch and the Congress need to move decisively to find a way to devaluing the investment that is now being made in weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery so that we can contain this first and try and diminish the likelihood that these weapons will be used.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you very much for your statement. Mr. Cirincione.
Director, Non-Proliferation Project
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
MR. JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I greatly appreciate the hard work that you, the other members of the committee, and the staff have done in tracking and documenting the threat of weapons of mass destruction, the single greatest national security threat that we face today. It's an honor to be here and testify before you.
I appreciate the hard work that Mr. Walpole and others bring to this assessment and I strongly agree with many parts of this assessment, particularly his often over-looked remarks that are in here, that Senator Levin referred to, that they project that in the coming years the US territory is probably more likely to be attacked by a weapon of mass destruction from a non-missile than from a missile. A very important finding, one that most experts share.
He also emphasizes in the report that the Russian threat, though significantly reduced, will continue to be the most robust and lethal -- considerably more than China's -- and orders of magnitude more than the potential posed by the other states mentioned in the report. Unfortunately the report doesn't spend too much time on either the ballistic missile threat from Russia or China, and that is one of several methodological flaws that I think reduces the value of this assessment for policy makers.
If I could just briefly summarize, knowing that my testimony will be entered into the record, I will just briefly summarize my comments on the methodological shortcomings of the report. I believe the 1999 unclassified NIE portrays no missile programs in several developing countries as more immediate threats than previous assessments have in the past. While there have been several significant tests of medium range over the past two years, this new assessment is more the function of lowered evaluative criteria than of major changes in long range missile capabilities.
The change from the previously established intelligence agency criteria should be more clearly established in the report so policy makers can understand why this assessment is different from all other assessments. In particular, the three assessments I'm talking about is the one that Mr. Walpole alluded to, they changed the criteria from when a country was likely to deploy a system to when it could first test it. This represents a time change of about five years.
In addition, they've changed the target set. All previous assessments looked at attacks on the 48 continental states. This now looks at all 50 states and all territories of those 50 states. That represents a geographical shift of about 5,000 kilometers, that is the difference from Seattle, for example, to the tip of the Aleutian Island chain.
Finally and most important are the adoption of the "could" standard. This, I think, is the deepest methodological flaw in the report because it makes the report very mushy. It's very hard to find here what analysts really believe is likely to happen.
So when Senator Levin, for example, is asking is it likely that Iran will have an ICBM in the next 5, 10 years, what you get is a range of opinion, no coherent intelligence community assessment. Everybody agrees that anything is possible. Certainly in the next ten years Iran could have an ICBM. Many things could occur in the next five years. But what's most likely? What's most probable?
Previous assessments have tried to have that predictive value. I think it's a shame that predictive value has been obfuscated, obfuscated in the report. Finally sirs, let me suggest there are several other things one might consider here. The assessments of these projected changes take place independent of significant political and economic changes. That results, I believe, in the over- estimation of potential ballistic missile threats from Iraq, Iran and North Korea; and under-estimates the dangers from existing arsenals.
They assume that Russia and China will maintain status quo paths. If in fact the international nonproliferation regime collapses, if the international security (structure ?) is fundamentally altered by poor relations by the United States and Russia, poor relations between the United States and China, we could be facing a much more dangerous threat from those existing arsenals than we are likely to encounter from the potential arsenals of these three small states.
And by focusing on developments in a small number of missile programs in developing states, the NIE neglects a dramatic decline in global ballistic missile totals. That is, it simply isn't true that globally the ballistic missile threat is increasing. When you look at the global ballistic missile situation, and I've tried to detail this on page ten of my report, there has been over the last 15 years a significant decrease of many important criteria of the ballistic missile threat.
For example, the numbers of ICBMs in the world have been cut almost in half in the past 15 years. The number of intermediate range ballistic missiles in the world have been all but eliminated, a 99 percent decrease in the last 15 years. The short range ballistic missile programs, largely consisting of short range SCUDS that is 1950s technology which is aging and declining in military utility. Even the number of nations ballistic missile programs has decreased over the last 15 years.
There were eight countries we were worried about, primarily eight years ago, there are only seven now. They're different countries, and they're poor and less technologically advanced than the countries we were worried about 15 years ago. And finally, most importantly, the level of damage that could occur to the United States as a result of ballistic missiles is vastly decreased from what it was 15 years ago when we were worried about global thermonuclear war.
We were worried about an attack that would destroy the nation.
There are still significant threats which should be worried about a possible ballistic missile attack on the United States over the next 15 years, but it would be one of terrible, but still limited damage to what would have occurred over the past years.
So I think if we look at the global context of this we can see that the threat from ballistic missiles is serious, deserves our urgent consideration, but it is much less dramatic than is sometimes portrayed by advocates of deploying a national ballistic missile system. And I will end by urging the Congress to conduct an outside review of this NIE to see if there are methodological flaws that I have identified and whether they could be corrected. And to consider an objective assessment of the technologies that exist for ballistic missile defense to filter out political agendas, contractor (influences ?) and other considerations on the critical national (issue ?) to see whether in fact the technology exists to provide an effective defense of the United States.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you very much. We appreciate both of your attendance at today's hearing and your participation and assistance to our understanding of your views on the estimate and assessment of the National Intelligence Estimate.
There seems to be still a disconnect between what Mr. Walpole said was the goal of this 1999 estimate as compared with the 1995 one, and that is not only to suggest what is likely or expected to happen in future years, but what could happen in future years, and that he put in italics the fact that they were also going to include what their expectation was for the future. What would be likely to happen.
And now we here Mr. Cirincione repeating the same criticism saying that this estimate includes only what is possible, what could happen in the future. So there seems to be the continued disconnect between what the NIE says it says and what Mr. Cirincione says it says. Beyond that, I guess my question is what are your views, each member of this panel, about the effect of the vulnerability of the United States in the absence of a missile defense system. What is the effect of the vulnerability of the United States at this time on the likelihood that foreign nations like North Korea, Iran, Iraq, would develop long range missile systems to threaten the United States?
Would it be more likely that they would develop these systems if we had a national missile defense system, or less likely?
Dr. Schneider, would you go first.
MR. SCHNEIDER: In my view, the vulnerability is a factor that stimulates the development of the various means of delivering weapons of mass destruction. The one area for which we have no defense, at this stage, is defenses against ballistic missile attack. We do have some defenses against cruise missile attack and we have a $10 billion counter-terrorism budget. So in terms of where the effort gets allocated by those who seek to pose a threat to the United States for purposes of coercive diplomacy, they are likely to follow the path of least resistance, which is today in ballistic missiles.
I suspect that if we deploy national missile defense that they will try and shift effort to some of the other areas where we already have undertaken some defensive effort such as cruise missiles or the terrorist delivery of WMD.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Cirincione.
MR. CIRINCIONE: Yes sir, I don't believe that this "could" issue, by the way, is a disconnect. In the body of the assessment itself, it notes that some of the analysts involved in the assessment objected to the adoption of this standard, a standard that was introduced by the Rumsfeld Committee that I think is detrimental to good, predictive analysis. Particularly on the question that you ask, however, I believe that countries will continue to pursue ballistic missile programs independent of whether the United States attempts to build a missile shield or not. Remember we had a ballistic missile shield for some time, it didn't seem to effect ballistic missile programs at that time.
SEN. COCHRAN: Senator Akaka.
SENATOR DANIEL AKAKA: Mr. Cirincione, you mentioned in your testimony where you disagree with the Rumsfeld Commission report. Are there conclusions which you agree with?
MR. CIRINCIONE: Well there's lots of words in the Rumsfeld Commission report, I'm sure I could find some that I agree with. The basic thrust, you see, is that they concluded -- and this is what made the headlines -- that a country could field a ballistic missile that could strike the United States with little or no warning. That is tomorrow we could wake up and find that Argentina had a missile that could attack the United States. I just believe that isn't true, fundamentally untrue, and has resulted in a certain hysteria about the ballistic missile threat. So fundamentally and at its core, I disagree with the commission's assessment.
SEN. AKAKA: How would you like to see the intelligence community address developing threats in the future? Is there a need for a new alternative such as Team B approach which would look at other factors effecting likely threats?
MR. CIRINCIONE: Well this current assessment is the result of exactly a Team B approach so I wouldn't recommend that approach. We have this 1999 assessment because Congress strongly disagreed with 1995 National Intelligence Assessment, and so it convened a special panel, the Gates Panel, headed up by the former director of the CIA. And that panel reviewed the 1995 assessment and in 1996 found out that it completely agreed with the assessment.
Director Gates, former director Gates, testified here in the Senate in December 1996, agreeing with the 1995 assessment and thought the case was even stronger than had been presented publicly. Certain members of Congress didn't like that finding so they convened another report, this is the Rumsfeld Commission, which finally gave them the answer that many members wanted, which is that the ballistic missile threat was more robust than had been found by the intelligence community. And the intelligence community has responded by basically adopting the Rumsfeld Committee standard and finally presenting to Congress an assessment that they agree with.
SEN. AKAKA: Dr. Schneider, before the House Armed Services Committee on October 13, 1999 one of your colleagues of the Rumsfeld Commission, Dr. William Graham, criticized the NIE for placing quote "too much weight on intentions without trying to evaluate how they might change," unquote. It said, it's particularly important to be cautious of intelligence community estimates that on the one hand focus on capabilities and on the other state that they do not consider major changes in government policy. Would you agree with this statement?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well, it is difficult when making a 15 year assessment to manage as Mr. Walpole suggested the vagaries of international politics and how that might effect it. So I'm sympathetic with the point of view that suggest that somehow while this very important factor is difficult to incorporate, but that being said, I do think that the intelligence community has got the right balance in the way they have come to assess this. And this issue of the methodology about how it's assessed, was one of the more detailed efforts of the Rumsfeld Commission, and three of our members are particularly well identified with a position that's skeptical of ballistic missile defenses and have a powerful advocacy position with respect to arms control.
Dr. Richard Garwin, for example, now Secretary Albright's advisor on arms control and counter-proliferation; General Lee Butler who has advocated abandoning nuclear weapons entirely; and Dr. Barry Blechman, who's a well-known arms control expert. All of these specialists looked very carefully at the methodology about what is the most constructive way to get a grip on the threat, and they shared the perspective that's reflected in the Rumsfeld Commission report. So I think this is a good way to do it.
SEN. AKAKA: In your testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 20, 1999 you stated, and I quote, "The use of surface ship launched missiles may be especially attractive to Iran in attacking with weapons of mass destruction." How useful would our NMD system be against such an attack?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well it would depend on the range of the missile used for a ship-borne attack.
If they used a short range missile with less than 2,000 nautical mile range, the national missile defense system is constrained from being effective at those ranges, under the terms of the ABM Treaty. So it would not have any effect on those, you would have to deploy theater type systems such as THAAD as a way of engaging missiles that had a shorter range that could not be engaged by the national missile defense system.
SEN. AKAKA: The administration has talks underway with North Korea to restrain their missile exports and development. If the administration is successful how do you think that progress should effect our national missile defense program?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well first North Korea is not the only country that poses a potential threat to the United States so I think that if the negotiations are successful and relations improve with North Korea that it should be addressed as a bilateral matter rather than a question of world-wide policy. However, if the news story in the Washington Times today about the shipment of Rodong engines to Iran turns out to be correct, then I think the effectiveness of the efforts with North Korea are clearly in doubt.
SEN. AKAKA: A last question, Mr. Chairman, what if we were to convince the Iranians to suspend their ICBM program. How should that effect our NMD program?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well, again, the question of missile defense is most recently driven by developments in Iran and North Korea, however those are not the only countries that are getting this technology. And those who do have it, have expressed a readiness to export their missiles to other countries. So the missile threat is not resolved solely by improved bilateral relations with either Iran or North Korea. Our vulnerability to ballistic missiles needs to be addressed in the same way that we deal with other security vulnerabilities, through our defense establishment.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you Senator. Senator Levin.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me ask both of you whether you agree with the statement of Mr. Walpole and the finding of the National Intelligence Council relative to non-missile delivery means. And the statement is this, "We project that in the coming years US territory is probably more likely to be attacked with weapons of mass destruction from non-missile delivery means, most likely from non-state entities, than by missiles, primarily because non-missile delivery means are less costly, more reliable and accurate. They can also be used without attribution." I'm wondering, Mr. Cirincione, do you agree with that?
MR. CIRINCIONE: Yes sir I do, I strongly agree with that.
SEN. LEVIN: Doctor Schneider to you agree with that?
MR. SCHNEIDER: yes I do because there's 300 calls a week with crank calls on Anthrax scares, so yes, if you score them that way. But I think if you disaggregated the number into state actors, that is if you're considering only states as countries that would manipulate or actually engage in the use of weapons of mass destruction, then I think missile delivery is probably a more likely scenario in the short term, unless the phenomena I described earlier where missile defenses were deployed, and then I think they would try and follow the path of least resistance.
SEN. LEVIN: So in terms of states, you do not agree with that finding?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Correct.
SEN. LEVIN: So you both disagree with parts of this intelligence estimate. Dr. Schneider, would you agree that the Rumsfeld panel made no finding relative to the deployment of missile defenses?
MR. SCHNEIDER: No, it was not in our charter.
SEN. LEVIN: That's really been so misunderstood. I'm looking at an editorial in a highly respected newspaper, The Washington Post, that say's the following, "A well respected Congressional advisory panel in 1998 urged the deployment," that is not accurate.
MR. SCHNEIDER: That is not correct.
SEN. LEVIN: And I think it's really important that those of you who were on the panel continue to do what was done when the panel report was presented, which is to indicate that on that issue, whether or not deployment of a national missile defense system should occur, that the panel itself took no position even though they found that the North Korean threat was closer than had previously been expected.
MR. SCHNEIDER: That's correct and I proposed to the chairman, including the executive summary, that I think will make that clear.
SEN. LEVIN: I think it's very important that everybody -- whatever side of the issue they're on on that panel, of the deployment issue -- make it clear the panel did not address the issue, reached no conclusion on the issue relative to the deployment of missile defenses. Because there is, I think, some misunderstanding about what the panel found and what they didn't find. And that misunderstanding can have an effect on the debate so thank you for that clarification.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you very much Senator Levin. Let me ask both of you this question. The NIE says acquiring long range ballistic missiles armed with WMD will enable weaker countries to do three things that they otherwise might not be able to do: deter, constrain and harm the United States. Do you think there is utility for rogue states to merely possess ICBMs even if they're not used? Mr. Cirincione.
MR. CIRINCIONE: Actually sir I disagree specifically with that statement. I think this confuses weapons of mass destruction delivery vehicles. That is a nation, and I do believe it's more likely that a nation state that wanted to threaten the United States with weapons of mass destruction would do so not with missiles, but by finding another delivery means. So a nation that has secreted a nuclear weapon in Washington or Fairbanks and said that it was there and would detonate it unless so and so, would be just as able to deter, constrain and harm the United States as a country that claimed it had a nuclear warhead on top of a missile.
I don't believe the possession of ballistic missiles offers a unique capability to deter, constrain or harm.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider.
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well I do believe long range delivery is a much more (difficult ?) dealing with it than the notion of an attempted terrorist delivery. We had a recent example over the Christmas holiday and immediately thereafter of a terrorist group that was trying to infiltrate the United States through a very clever scheme involving multiple points of entry. They were apprehended by law enforcement organizations and the case is being continued.
The probability of detection of terrorist organizations is one of the successful results of the $10 billion program that we have. And the risks that would be taken for the use of trying to sneak a WMD device into the United States where culpability could be ascertained, is extremely high. On the other hand, the manipulation of WMD threats could be very powerful, and I call your attention to a colloquy that took place between Secretary Rumsfeld and Senator John Kerrey in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the Rumsfeld Commission hearing where Secretary Rumsfeld had the rare perspective of being both the White House chief of staff and a secretary of defense.
And he went through a very interesting thought process that's derived from that experience about the impact say an Iraqi possession of a long range ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction would have had on the White House if they were contemplating intervention in a Gulf region security crisis. And I can't reproduce the colloquy as effectively as I would like, but it was a very compelling one suggesting that the possession of this could have a very powerful impact on the opportunities for coercive diplomacy in these kinds of scenarios.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Cirincione though the NIE discusses the value of ICBMs to rogue states, some have suggested that ICBMs are actually of little value for rogue states.
Do you agree with that?
MR. CIRINCIONE: Oh no, I think they're of some value. If I was a rogue state I would like to have an ICBM. The trouble is it's not easy to do. If it was easy everybody would do it. It's technologically demanding, extremely expensive, a very risky enterprise.
There's a reason that only two other nations in the world have ballistic missiles that can hit the United States: that is Russia and China. This is a very difficult and demanding technology to master. So I expect it's going to take a very long time before any other country has an ICBM capable of delivering a warhead on the United States.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider, what do nations like North Korea, Iran, Iraq gain by developing missiles like ICBMs or longer range missiles?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Take the case first of North Korea. I think they gain several things. One is they are the largest US aid recipient in Asia, which is testimony to their management skills on the manipulation of their WMD and ballistic missiles. But also, they have been able to equalize their status with South Korea despite the fact that South Korea is a much richer state, it's a democratic state, it's a state with whom we've had good relations, largely because -- as a consequence of the threat they are able to manipulate.
And I think this is replicated in Iran as well, where their ability to deploy weapons of mass destruction and deliver them at great ranges through ballistic missiles has made them the most (feared ?) state in the Gulf region. And certainly in the security arena, has obliged the United States to revisit it's policies concerning how it would deploy forces in the future in a Gulf region security crisis. So I think there's a lot of incentives for them to go down this path and since they are, that is North Korea and Iran, are moving incrementally to an ICBM capability, it's clear that they wish to have this ace in the hole of an ability to threaten the territory of the United States.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider you've brought to our attention the fact that we have this $10 billion effort underway to deal with threats such as terrorist attacks on the United States. But some claim that we're paying too much attention, spending too much money on ballistic missile threats and defending against them. Do you think we're paying too much attention to the ballistic missile threat over the other threats?
MR. SCHNEIDER: No and I think it's important to view the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction in a holistic way, that there are several ways in which it can be delivered. Terrorism is one means, cruise missiles and manned aircraft are another means, ballistic missiles are yet another means. And we need to be able to engage all of these.
I strongly support the effort that the President has proposed for this $10 billion terrorist effort. I think we will probably need to do more in the way of cruise missile defense, especially national cruise missile defense in the future. And I think the Congress initiated such a program just last year.
But ballistic missile defense is the area where for a variety of reasons we have not engaged, and as a result, just as if electricity were present, the path of least resistance has been taken by those for whom it is important to maintain a threat against the United States. I think the effort that we make to invest in national missile defense program -- and this is a personal view not the view of the Rumsfeld Commission -- would have the effect of devaluing the investment in ballistic missiles, make it worth less, simply because it's much less likely to have the desired effect, either in terms of coercive diplomacy or in actual use.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Cirincione in a recent Los Angeles Times article you criticized the NIE as being less useful to policymakers because it avoided the issue of whether threats might actually disappear. In this article you noted that under some scenarios North Korea may collapse before the fielding of a national missile defense system. Do you believe that all of the threats described in this NIE will probably disappear before the fielding of a national missile defense system?
MR. CIRINCIONE: It depends on when you think we're going to field a system. Also I based that comment on testimony given to the Congress by the director of the DIA, General Patrick Hughes (sp), who testified that North Korea was probably terminal -- two years ago. And I think many analysts believe that it's probable that North Korea could collapse of the next -- in the short term -- the next five or ten years.
And I think that is just as important a "could" possibility that should be considered, the possibility that North Korea could, or Iran could, field an ICBM. And that's why it's so urgent, when you make these kinds of assessments to the greatest extend possible, to bring in the political, economic and diplomatic factors, so you have a net assessment. We do that all the time. You know, we don't worry about Japan for example, in this assessment, because we judge that even though Japan could develop an ICBM, they're unlikely to do so.
That actually could change dramatically if the situation in Asia spiraled out of control. If relations with China deteriorated, if India fielded large numbers of ballistic missiles Japan may decide that they actually should deploy a ballistic missile, that they should become a nuclear nation. That's the kind of political variable that's very important for intelligence agencies to bring into their assessment.
It's lacking here and I would hope that Congress would help encourage the intelligence agencies, to the greatest extent possible, to integrate their assessments and really give Congress the kind of predictive tool that they need. So that was the basis of my statement.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. William Perry, who is as you know our former Secretary of Defense and is now serving as the coordinator for US- North Korea policy said in his review of US policy that the United States needs to deal with the North Korean government as it is because, and I quote here, "There is no evidence that change is imminent," end quote. So my follow up is should the United State deal with North Korea's long range missile programs as if no change is imminent? Is he right or is he wrong?
MR. CIRINCIONE: Well frankly I believe he's wrong. I think all indications are that change is fairly imminent, that is five to ten years away. I do not believe that that regime can survive.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider, looking at the August 1998 Taepo Dong launch by North Korea, what technologies for developing ICBMs did North Korea demonstrate by that launch?
MR. SCHNEIDER: The most important was the ability to have successful stage separation, that is when the first stage of the missile carried aloft the second stage, it was able to separate the two stages without damaging the other stage or otherwise inhibiting its ability to perform. And then the third stage also separated successfully. So this is the core capability necessary to develop an ICBM. Ultimately if you can put a payload in orbit, you have an ICBM capability.
SEN. COCHRAN: We've seen a clear pattern in rogue state programs where they begin their programs with SCUD-type technology. Do we need to be concerned about not only North Korea but other countries leveraging this SCUD technology to develop longer range ballistic missiles?
MR. SCHNEIDER: Yes I think it is a source of concern for a number of reasons. One is that it's a highly mature technology, more than a thousand -- in fact several thousand -- launches have been undertaken using this technology. This contributes to a need for less testing because of the maturity of the technology.
Second, the technology is very cheap to manufacture and hence North Korea is able to have as one of its core competencies the ability to cheaply manufacture liquid fuel technology based on relatively simple evolutions of the underlying SCUD technologies. So I think it is a source of concern because it does create a direct path to an ICBM.
SEN. COCHRAN: Let me ask both of you about the NIE assessment of the likelihood of an unauthorized or accidental launch of ballistic missiles from Russia or China. It describes this as highly unlikely. Mr. Cirincione do you agree with the NIE on that point?
MR. CIRINCIONE: I don't believe it's highly unlikely. I do believe it's unlikely. But I also agree with the 1995 NIE which cautioned when it made a similar prediction, quote "We are less confident about the future in view of the fluid political situation in both countries, Russia and China.
If there were severe political crisis in either country control of the nuclear command structure could become less certain, increasing the possibility of an unauthorized launch."
I think the political situation in both those countries remains very fluid. I am deeply pessimistic about the future of Russia, which is why I tried to stress in my testimony that much more of our attention has to be focused on the here and now, on the 5,000 nuclear warheads that sit atop ballistic missiles in Russia. That is what we really should be worried about, and I'm afraid that situation is going to be less stable over the next five or ten years, increasing the probability not just of an accidental loss, but the possibility of a fragmentation of Russia where we see new nuclear-armed nations emerging and the possibility of the transfer or sale of those assets to third parties.
That's the real danger. That's the real threat that we would face from a third nation getting a ballistic missile. They would simply buy it.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider.
MR. SCHNEIDER: There was an important caveat in the NIE that suggested that an unauthorized launch was highly unlikely if existing procedural safeguards remain in place. The Russians have inherited the command and control system of the former Soviet Union and I am persuaded that that is a good system. However, if there is deterioration in the state control of the assets, that is the nuclear weapon delivery systems and it causes the breakdown in the procedural safeguards, then of course it would be possible for an accidental launch or an unauthorized launch to take place.
Similarly, a source of concern is the degradation in the effectiveness of the warning systems, where they may mistake a phenomena they see for a launch and try to respond. We've had some concerns about an incident five years ago and I think those concerns remain.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Cirincione in your opening statement which we put in the record in full you characterize the Rumsfeld Commission's conclusions as hysterical. What do you mean by that?
MR. CIRINCIONE: My exact phrase is somewhat hysterical.
SEN. COCHRAN: Oh, I'm sorry.
MR. CIRINCIONE: That's quite alright. I believe it's somewhat hysterical to assert that the United States could have little or no warning of a new ICBM. I simply don't believe that's true. I think that's an extreme view, that we could wake up tomorrow -- and I heard members of Congress take to the floor and say things like this after the Rumsfeld Commission report -- we could wake up tomorrow and find out that Libya had deployed an ICBM.
I simply don't think our intelligence capabilities are that poor. I don't think that building an ICBM is that easy. I don't believe missiles pop in and out of existence like virtual particles. There is a trail, there's a way to ascertain this. I think we have a very good grasp on who has what kind of a program. I don't think we're in for those kinds of gigantic surprises that Vanuatu suddenly (fields ?) an ICBM, even though by consistently applying the "could" standard of the Rumsfeld Commission, that is a "could" possibility.
SEN. COCHRAN: Dr. Schneider, what's your -- do you agree with the conclusions of the Rumsfeld Commission that they were somewhat hysterical?
MR. SCHNEIDER: No, I think they were very restrained and offered with the sobriety that the subject requires. I think part of the confusion is to equate a threat to the United States with an ICBM capability. There are a number of ways, including some mentioned in the NIE, in which a ballistic missile can be delivered to the United States without it being an ICBM.
One example is a launch from a surface ship. This technology is not at all new. The Germans demonstrated it during World War II. The Russians have frequently launched ballistic missiles from surface ships. We launched a Polaris missile from a merchant ship in the early 1960s. This is not rocket science, this is navigation.
And as a consequence, the possibility that a ballistic missile threat could be posed to the United States without warning is a very real one. A SCUD missile on a transporter erector launcher, which is similar to a logging vehicle -- an off-road logging vehicle -- can be hold of a merchant ship and the merchant ship sail the first 9,500 kilometers of the voyage needed to get to the United States. And the last 500 or so are managed by the short range ballistic missile launched from the ship.
The usual problems that have been referred to in the past were of command and control problems and navigation problems, have largely been dispensed with because of the availability of high-quality commercial communications such as INMARSAT and high quality commercial navigation such as that available from the Global Positioning System. So this is practical. Its been widely demonstrated and it should be counted as part of the portfolio of ballistic missile threats that can threaten the United States.
MR. CIRINCIONE: But sir, if you're going to have a merchant ship, why bother with a ballistic missile, why don't you just continue sailing those last 100 miles into the harbor and detonate the devise then? That's way before Customs is going (look ?). You don't need the ballistic missile to make that kind of threat.
SEN. COCHRAN: I guess you blow yourself up, that's the answer.
MR. CIRINCIONE: Well we have a lot of evidence that people are willing to do that.
MR. SCHNEIDER: Yeah, but there probably would be a low volunteer rate for that duty.
MR. CIRINCIONE: There's been a very high volunteer rate for exactly those kinds of missions.
SEN. COCHRAN: Let me ask the questions here. Let me ask both of you this, how much warning time, for example, do you think the intelligence community would be able to provide if Iran decided to develop an ICBM like the three-stage Taepo Dong-I? Dr. Schneider.
MR. SCHNEIDER: Well it could be done by the weekend if the missiles were put on a 747 and flown to Iran where they would just set them up. We had a circumstance in the 1980s when China delivered the CSS-2 missiles to Saudi Arabia. We didn't know about it until after the transaction was implemented. So it's quite possible that we could be surprised because there are a number of ways in which an adversary state can acquire ballistic missiles other than going to engineering school and starting to mine the aluminum and steel out of the ground. It's possible to just buy these things off the shelf.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Cirincione.
MR. CIRINCIONE: If they tried to build it themselves, years. If they smuggled in in piece by piece and assembled it, very little warning time.
SEN. COCHRAN: I think this has been a very helpful hearing. I appreciate very much your both being here to help us understand this national intelligence estimate, and Mr. Walpole's participation in the hearing, his presentation of the unclassified summary for our review, and the participation of Senators. I think, its been an excellent afternoon, interesting and informative as well.
Thank you very, very much.
MR. CIRINCIONE: It was an honor to be here.
MR. SCHNEIDER: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. COCHRAN: This concludes our hearing and we stand in recess.