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SEN. AKAKA: (Sounds gavel.) The committee will please come to order. I want to welcome all of you to our hearing today on the intelligence community's assessment of foreign missile threats to the United States. I would like to thank Mr. Robert Walpole, national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs at the National Intelligence Council, for being with us today. His report describes the threat posed to the United States by weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. It examines when a country could deploy an inter-continental ballistic missile based on technical, industrial and economic capabilities; as well as when they are likely to do so, based on potential technical problems, political developments and economic delays.
We last held a subcommittee hearing on the National Intelligence Estimate on ballistic missile threats in February 2000. At that time, senior North Korean officials were preparing to come to Washington to discuss the missile moratorium. In May 2001, North Korea extended their voluntary flight test moratorium until 2003, provided negotiations with the U.S. proceeded. But negotiations have not proceeded. Relations with North Korea have soured.
A key question for this hearing is the current status of North Korea's missile program. There are some notable differences between this report and the one discussed at our February 2000 meeting. The previous report listed Russia as a chief threat; an increase of an attack by North Korea, Iran and possibly Iraq, as well as the intelligence community's unanimous assessment that the Russian arsenal will decline to less than 2,000 warheads by the year 2015; have reduced the threat assessment from Russia. In fact, the report states that threats to the U.S. homeland will come from dramatically fewer warheads than today, owing to significant reductions in Russian strategic forces.
The estimate has also emphasized the threat from non-missile delivery means for WMD, especially from terrorist groups. While emerging ballistic missile states continue to increase the risks to U.S. forces, interests and allies throughout the world, the intelligence community judges that the U.S. territory is more likely to be attacked with WMD using non-missile means.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th have demonstrated that our enemies can strike American soil directly, without having to put the time and money into a ballistic missile with a return address. I am concerned about the growing interest of rogue nations and terrorist groups in unmanned aerial vehicles.
During our subcommittee hearing earlier this month on Iraq's WMD program, our witnesses described how Iraq is adapting trainer aircraft and specially modified spray tanks that could be used in a biological weapon attack. This information is quite chilling.
We all fear the spread of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. But our policy cannot be one of constructing moats against imagined threats. We must have a policy that counters real threats, in an effective and cost-efficient manner. Some of these dangers may in the medium to long term come from inter-continental ballistic missiles.
At this time I would like to call on my colleague Senator Collins.
A Senator from Maine
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for your leadership, and that of Senator Cochran, in this very important area. It is of the utmost importance for this subcommittee to continue to examine responsible methods for protecting against the threat of foreign missiles. Today's hearing will contribute substantially to our growing understanding of the threat, and assist us in developing appropriate policy responses.
I would note, Mr. Chairman, that I think it's particularly appropriate that you are holding this hearing exactly six months after the terrorist attacks on our nation. I don't think any of us doubt that had Osama bin Laden access to the kinds of missiles that we are discussing today that he would have hesitated in any way to use them.
The magnitude of the threat is extraordinary, and it is growing. As the estimate notes, because of reductions in Russia, the raw number of ballistic missiles that threaten our homeland will likely decrease substantially. The number of nations and non-state actors posing a threat, however, will likely increase. For example, North Korea's multiple-stage Taepo Dong missile, which is capable of reaching parts of the United States with a nuclear weapons size payload, may be ready for flight testing.
Looking more broadly, most intelligence community agencies project that before the year 2015 the United States most likely will face inter-continental ballistic missile threats from North Korea, Iran, and possibly from Iraq, bearing significant changes in their political orientation, in addition to the long-standing missile forces of Russia and China. And while the number of Russian missiles will likely decline, the intelligence community projects that Chinese ballistic missile forces will increase several fold by the year 2015.
Moreover, these are not the only nations that pose threats. Iran is pursuing long-range missile capabilities, and Iraq wants a long- range missile. And all agencies agree that Iraq could test different long-range concepts before 2015, if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Non- state actors also pose threats. According to the estimate, terrorist groups continue to express interest in obtaining chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials and the means to deliver them.
Threats to our homeland are also posed by short-range missiles launched from forward-based ships or other platforms. And according to the estimate, some countries are likely to develop such mechanisms before 2015.
In light of these very real and growing threats, I look forward to hearing Mr. Walpole's testimony. And, again, I appreciate your convening this hearing. Thank you.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much, Senator Collins, for your comments and statement.
I welcome our witness to today's hearing, and look forward to an interesting discussion later. At this time I would open any opening statement or comments you may have, Mr. Walpole.
MR. WALPOLE: Okay, thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Collins, for the opportunity to be able to testify before your subcommittee on the missile threats to the United States and its interests.
The ballistic missile remains a central element in the military arsenals in nations around the globe, and will retain this status for at least the next 15 years. States willingly devote often scarce resources to develop or acquire ballistic missile, build infrastructures to sustain development and production, and actively pursue technologies, materials, personnel on the world market to compensate for domestic shortfalls, gain expertise, and speed development.
As you know, the Senate requires that the intelligence community produce annual reports on the missile threat. These reports are also required to include a discussion of non-missile threats as well. Our most recent report was published in December of last year as a National Intelligence Estimate, or what we call an NIE. My testimony today is drawn from the unclassified summary of that NIE. In the interest of time, I will limit my opening remarks, but would like to submit for the record my complete statement and a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate.
SEN. AKAKA: The complete statement will be included in the record.
National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs,
National Intelligence Council
MR. WALPOLE: The summary of that estimate. Thank you.
Our NIE describes missile developments and our projections, as you noted, of possible and likely ballistic missile threats to the United States, our interests overseas and our military forces or allies, through the year 2015. It discussed the evolving proliferation environment, and provides a summary of forward-based threats and cruise missiles. To address the uncertainties associated with this work, particularly projecting out 15 years, we assessed both the earliest dates that countries could test various missiles, based largely on engineering judgments made by experts inside and outside the intelligence community, on the technical capabilities and resources of the countries in question, and in many cases on continuing foreign assistance. We also assess when the countries are likely to test such missiles, factoring into the earlier assessments potential delays caused by technical, political or economic hurdles.
I want to underscore that we judge that countries are much less likely to test by the hypothetical could dates than they are by the projected likely dates. Now, with that as a backdrop, I would note that most U.S. intelligence community agencies project that during the next 15 years the United States most likely will face ICBM threats from North Korea and Iran, and possibly Iraq. Of course that is in addition to the strategic forces of Russia and China. One agency assesses that the United States is unlikely to face an ICBM threat from Iran before 2015. That's different than the earlier estimate where it was unanimous.
I would underscore that short- and medium-range ballistic missiles already pose a significant threat overuses to U.S. interests, military forces and allies. Emerging ballistic missiles continue to increase the range, reliability -- I'm sorry, emerging ballistic missile states continue to increase the range, reliability and accuracy of their missiles, posing an ever-greater risk to U.S. forces, interests and allies throughout the world.
A decade ago the Scud was the emerging missile of concern. Today it is the Nodong. During the next few minutes, I will discuss the missiles of tomorrow.
The proliferation of ballistic missile related technologies, materials and expertise, especially by Russian, Chinese and North Korean entities, has enabled emerging states, missile states, to accelerate missile development, gain new capabilities, and expand their capabilities to acquire longer-range system. North Korea has assumed the role as missile technology source for many. The North Korean willingness to sell complete missile systems and components has enabled other states to acquire longer-range capabilities much earlier. The North has also helped countries to acquire technologies to serve as the basis for domestic development efforts. Meanwhile, Iran is expanding its efforts to sell missile technology. States with emerging missile programs inevitably will run into problems that will delay their development programs. Most emerging missile states are highly dependent on foreign assistance. But the ready availability of assistance from multiple sources make it likely that most emerging missile states will be able to resolve such problems, albeit with a slippage in development time.
All this leads us to assess that the probability that a missile with a weapon of mass destruction will be used against U.S. forces or interests is higher today than during most of the Cold War. And it will continue to grow as the capabilities of potential adversaries mature.
More nations have ballistic missiles. They have already used missiles against the United States forces and allied forces during the Gulf War. Although those missiles did not deliver weapons of mass destruction, Iraq had weaponized ballistic missile warheads with biological and chemical agents, and they were available for use. Moreover, some of the states armed with missiles have exhibited a willingness to use chemical weapons with other delivery means. In addition, some non-state entities are seeking chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials, and would be willing to use them without missiles. In fact, we assess that the United States territory is more likely to be attacked with these materials from non-missile delivery means -- most likely from terrorists -- than by missiles, primarily because non-missile delivery means are less costly, easier to acquire, more reliable and accurate. They can also be used without attribution. Nevertheless, the missile threat will continue to grow, in part because missiles become important regional weapons in the arsenals of numerous countries. Moreover, missiles provide a level of prestige, of course diplomacy and deterrence that non-missile means do not.
In short, the intelligence community must work both threats. We do not have the luxury of choosing to work one at the exclusion of the other. Neither is a no-likelihood situation.
Let me turn now to some of the countries with missile forces or programs. First Russia, which maintains the most comprehensive ballistic missile force capable of reaching the United States, although force structure decisions resulting from resource problems, program development failures, weapon system aging, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and arms control treaties have resulted in a steep decline in Russian strategic nuclear forces over the last 10 years. warheads in 1990, Russia now maintains fewer than 4,000 warheads on its ICBMs and SLBMs. In the current day- to-day operational environment, with all procedure and technical safeguards in place, an unauthorized or accidental launch of a Russian strategic missile is highly unlikely. Russia faces ballistic missile program delays and the requirement to simultaneously extend the service lives of older systems while maintaining newer more capable systems. Unless Moscow significantly increases funding for its strategic forces, the Russian arsenal will decline to less than 2,000 warheads by 2015, with or without arms control.
Nevertheless, Russia has the most technologically evolved and best equipped, maintained and trained theater missile force in the world today, providing a rapid, precision-guided theater deep-strike capability.
Let's look next at China. We project that Chinese ballistic missile forces will increase several fold by 2015. But Beijing's current ICBM force, deployed primarily against the United States, will remain considerably smaller and less capable than the strategic missile forces of Russia or the United States. China's current ICBM force consists of large, liquid-propellant missiles armed with single nuclear warheads. China also has a medium-range JL1 submarine- launched ballistic missile.
Beijing is concerned about the survivability of its strategic deterrent of about 20 missiles against the United States, and has a long-running modernization program to develop mobile, solid-propellant ICBMs. We project that by 2015 most of China's strategic missile force will be mobile.
China has three new mobile strategic missiles in development: the rogue mobile CSSX-10, sometimes referred to as the DF-31, which is being flight tested; a longer range version of the DF-31; and the JL2 SLBM. This modernization effort, which dates to the 1980s, forms the foundation of Beijing's efforts to field a modern, mobile and more survivable strategic missile force. China could begin deploying the DF-31 ICBM during the next few years, and the DF-31 follow-on, and the JL2 SLBM in the last half of the decade.
We have differing projections amongst analysts on the overall size of the Chinese strategic ballistic missile force deployed primarily against the United States over the next 15 years, ranging from about 75 to 100 warheads. Deployment of multiple re-entry vehicles on missiles and missile defense countermeasures would be factors in the ultimate size of that force. China has had the capability to develop and deploy a multiple re-entry vehicle system for many years, including what we call multiple independently- targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. We assess that China could develop a multiple RV system for the CSS-4 within a few years. Chinese pursuit of a multiple RV capability for its mobilized ICBM and SLBMs would encounter significant technical hurdles and would be costly.
On the theater front, China maintains a robust CSS-5 medium-range ballistic missile force, and continues to increase significantly the capabilities of its short-range ballistic missile force deployed off at Taiwan. Beijing's growing SRBM force provides a military capability that avoids the political and practical constraints associated with the use of nuclear-armed missiles. That's because the SRBM force is conventionally armed. We project an SRBM force in 2005 of several hundred of those missiles.
Now to North Korea, which has hundreds of Scuds and 1,300- kilometer range Nodong missiles, and continues to develop the longer- range Taepo Dong II missile. In May 2001, as was already noted, Kim Jong Il unilaterally extended the moratorium until 2003. But it's a flight test moratorium. It hasn't stopped development, and development continues.
The multi-stage Taepo Dong II, which is capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear-sized payload, may be reading for flight testing. The North probably also is working on improvements to that current design. The Taepo Dong II, in a two-stage configuration, could deliver a several hundred kilogram payload up to 10,000 kilometers -- sufficient to strike Alaska, Hawaii, and parts of the continental United States. If the North uses a third-stage, similar to the one used in the Taepo Dong I launch of 1998, the Taepo Dong II could deliver a several hundred kilogram payload up to 15,000 kilometers, which is sufficient to strike all of North America.
The intelligence community judged in the mid 1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons. Since then the North has frozen plutonium production activities at Yongbyon in accordance with the agreed framework of 1994. North Korea also has chemical and biological weapon programs.
Let me turn now to Iran, which is pursuing short- and long-range missile capabilities. Iran's missile inventory is among the largest in the Middle East, and includes a few hundred SRBMs, some 1,300- kilometer range Shahab 3 MRBMs, and a variety of unguided rockets. Teheran's long-standing commitment to its ballistic missile programs for deterrence and war-fighting is unlikely to diminish.
Iran is likely to develop space-launched vehicles to put satellites into orbit, and establish a technical base from which it could develop ICBMs or intermediate-range ballistic missiles, capable of delivering nuclear weapons to Western Europe and the United States.
Iran certainly is aware of the North Korean space launch and missile program, and the benefits prosperity has tried to gain from the inherent ICBM capability posed by the Taepo Dong I and Taepo Dong II. All intelligence community agencies agree that Iran could attempt to launch an ICBM about mid decade; but believe Iran is likely to take until the last half of the decade to do so. One agency further judges that Iran is unlikely to achieve a successful test of an ICBM before 2015.
Iranian acquisition of complete systems, or major subsystems, such as a North Korean Taepo Dong II or Russian engine, could accelerate its capability to flight test an ICBM. If Iran were to acquire complete Taepo Dong II systems from North Korea, it could conduct a flight test within a year of delivery, allowing time for them to build a launch facility. Iran is unlikely to acquire a complete ICBM or space-launch vehicle from Russia.
Foreign assistance -- particularly from Russia, China and North Korea -- will remain critical to the success of the Iranian missile program for the duration of our estimate, which is 15 years. The intelligence community judges that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon. Most agencies assess that Teheran could have one by the end of the decade, although one agency judges it will take longer. All agree that Iran could reduce this timeframe by several years with significant foreign assistance. Iran has biological and chemical weapons programs.
Next, Iraq, which is constrained by international prohibitions, but probably retains a small covert force of Scud variant missiles with conventional, chemical and biological warheads. Baghdad also wants a long-range missile. Iraq's goals of becoming the predominant regional power, and its hostile relations with many of its neighbors, are the key drivers behind Iraq's ballistic missile program. Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had several programs to extend the range of the Scud SRBM, and became experienced working with liquid propellant technology. Since the Gulf War, despite U.N. resolutions limiting the range of Iraq's missiles to 150 kilometers, Baghdad has been able to maintain the infrastructure and expertise necessary to develop longer- range missile systems. We cannot project with confidence how long U.N.-related sanctions and prohibitions will remain in place. They plausibly will constrain Iraq during the 15-year period of our estimate. Scenarios that would weaken those prohibitions several years from now are also conceivable. They would allow Iraq to reconstitute its missile infrastructure and begin developing longer- range missiles before the end of the decade. Should U.N. prohibitions be significantly weakened in the future, Iraq probably would use the first several years to reestablish its SRBM inventory to pre-Gulf War numbers, and pursue medium-range missiles to keep pace with its neighbors. Once its regional security concerns are being addressed, Iraq may pursue a first-generation ICBM or space-launched vehicle.
Initially Iraq is likely to resume production of the pre-Gulf War 650-kilometer range Al-Hussein, the 900-kilometer range Al-Abbas, or other Scud variants, and it could explore clustering and staging options to reach more distant targets. Iraq could resume Scud variant production with foreign assistance quickly after U.N. prohibitions ended. With substantial foreign assistance, Baghdad could flight test a domestic medium-range ballistic missile by mid decade. An imported medium-range missile could be flight tested within months of acquisition.
After observing North Korean missile development the past few years, Iraq would be likely to pursue a three-stage Taepo Dong II approach to an ICBM, or space-launched vehicle, which would be capable of delivering a nuclear weapon-sized payload to the United States.
If Iraq could buy a Taepo Dong II from North Korea, it could have a launch capability within a year -- again, time to build a launch facility. It could develop and test a Taepo Dong I type system within a few years. If it acquired Nodongs from North Korea, it could test an ICBM within a few years of acquisition by clustering and staging those motors. If Iraq bought Taepo Dong II engines, it could test an ICBM in about five years. Iraq could develop and test a Taepo Dong II system within about 10 years of a decision to do so by itself. These are all presuming U.N. prohibitions have weakened and been eliminated.
Most agencies believe that Iraq is unlikely to test before 2015 any ICBMs that could threaten the United States, even if U.N. prohibitions were eliminated or significantly reduced. Some believe if prohibitions were eliminated in the next few years Iraq would be likely to test an ICBM -- probably masked as a space-launched vehicle -- before 2015 -- possibly before 2010 with significant foreign assistance. Iraq relied on foreign assistance before the Gulf War, and will continue to seek such assistance to expand its current capabilities.
Baghdad had a crash program to develop a nuclear weapons for missile delivery in 1990. But coalition bombing, and IAEA and UNSCOM activities significantly set back the effort. The intelligence community estimates that Iraq unconstrained would take several years to produce enough fissile material to make a weapon. Baghdad has admitted to having biological and chemical weapons programs before the Gulf War. We believe Iraq maintains those programs.
Now to Libya. The imposition of U.N. sanctions has impeded Libyan efforts to obtain foreign assistance for its longer-range missile programs. Nevertheless, Libya wants longer-range missiles, even beyond the Nodong class medium-range missile. Tripoli would be likely to continue to try for longer-range systems to increase the number of U.S. and NATO targets it can hold at risk. If a missile were offered with a range sufficient to strike 2,500 kilometers into Europe, Libya would try to obtain it. Libya's path to obtain an ICBM during the 15-year period of our estimate probably would be to purchase a complete missile system, or to set up a foreign assistance arrangement, wherein the scientists and technicians went to Libya, developed the infrastructure and developed the missile right there.
Libya has biological and chemical weapons programs. Libya would need significant foreign assistance to acquire a nuclear weapons, but Tripoli's nuclear infrastructure enhancements remain a concern to us.
Let's look briefly at Syria, which maintains a ballistic missile and rocket force of hundreds of Scud and SS-21 SRBM and (Frog ?) rockets. Syrian regional concerns may lead Damascus to seek a longer- range ballistic missile capability, such as North Korea's Nodong's medium-range missile. We judge that Syria does not have, and is unlikely to gain an interest in an ICBM capability during the next 15 years. Foreign assistance will remain critical to Syrian efforts to increase its production capabilities and to gain access to export- controlled components and technology.
Syria has developed chemical warheads for its Scuds, and has an offensive biological weapons program. We remain concerned about Syria's intentions regarding nuclear weapons.
Let me turn briefly to India and Pakistan. New Delhi believes that a nuclear-capable missile delivery option is necessary to deter Pakistani first use of nuclear weapons, and thereby preserve the option to wage a limited conventional war in response to a Pakistani provocation in Kashmir or elsewhere. Nuclear weapons also serve as a hedge against a confrontation with China.
Growing experience and an expanding infrastructure are providing India the means to accelerate both development and production of new systems. India continues to push toward self-sufficiency, especially in regard to its missile programs. Nevertheless, New Delhi still relies heavily on foreign assistance.
Pakistan sees missile-delivered nuclear weapons as a vital deterrent to India's much larger conventional forces and as a necessary counter to India's nuclear program. Since the 1980s, Pakistan has pursued development of an indigenous ballistic missile capability in an attempt to avoid reliance on any foreign entity for this capability, although foreign support for Pakistan's ambitious ballistic missile acquisition and development program has been and remains critical.
Several countries are technically capable of developing a missile-launch mechanism to use from forward-based ships or other platforms to launch SRBMs and MRBMs or land attack cruise missiles against the United States. Some of these are likely to develop and deploy such systems in the next 15 years. Nevertheless, long-distance strikes against the United States probably would be operationally difficult.
An SRBM or MRBM could be launched at the United States from a forward-based sea platform within a few hundred kilometers of U.S. territory. Using such a sea platform would not pose a major technical problem, but the accuracy of the missile probably would be reduced significantly because of the movement of the ocean.
One to two dozen countries probably will possess land-attack cruise missile capabilities by the year 2015 via indigenous development, acquisition or modification of other systems. Most of these cruise missiles will have a range of only a few hundred kilometers; again, sufficient to be used in a forward-deployed air or sea platform.
Non-missile means of delivering weapons of mass destruction, as I noted earlier, do not provide the same degree of prestige, deterrence or course of diplomacy associated with ICBMs. Nevertheless, concern remains about non-missile delivery means. Ships, trucks, airplanes and other means may be used.
In fact, as noted earlier, the intelligence community judges that U.S. territory is more likely to be attacked with weapons of mass destruction using non-missile delivery means, primarily because such means are less expensive than developing and producing ICBMs, can be covertly developed and employed to evade retaliation, probably would be more reliable, accurate and more effective for disseminating biological agent than ICBMs, and would avoid missile defenses.
Foreign non-state actors, including terrorist, insurgent or extremist groups, have used, possessed or expressed an interest in chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials. Most of these groups have threatened the United States and all of them have the ability to attack the United States or its interests. The events of September 11th and its aftermath have caused the intelligence community to focus significantly more resources on the threat from terrorism, and we have obtained more information on potential terrorist actions.
Let me close my opening remarks with that and take any questions you have.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much for your statement. At this time I'd like to ask my colleague, Senator Cochran, for any comments or statements he may have.
SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R-MS): Mr. Chairman, thank you. The CIA estimate in Mr. Walpole's statement, I think, is a very timely reminder that even as we fight terrorism, the threat of ballistic missile attack against our nation continues to grow.
The new estimate, as you described, suggests that the threat has in some ways worsened in the two years since the last estimate was issued. This is very troubling. And in the portion of my opportunity to ask questions, I will explore some of these changes, but I think it is significant to note that instead of getting better, the situation is getting worse.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you, Senator Cochran. I want to thank our witness for his statement, and I would like to proceed with some questions.
Experts say that to be effective, missile defense needs an accurate assessment of missile and countermeasures capabilities. The national intelligence estimate states that North Korea is nearly self- sufficient in developing and producing ballistic missiles. Do you have any intelligence on North Korea's countermeasure technology?
MR. WALPOLE: Since this is an open session, I don't want to walk through what intelligence we have on specific countries on that because of how important it is to ballistic-missile defense. But I do want to note that countermeasures are just that. They are counter to something else. So at this point, countries don't have to commit themselves to specific countermeasures they will employ.
Until they see what system the United States would deploy as a missile defense, they have the luxury at this point of pursuing multiple types of countermeasure options. And we've assessed and said in unclassified fora before that countries like China and Russia that have countermeasure technologies probably would be willing to sell some of those technologies to others.
SEN. AKAKA: Some have argued that countermeasures produced by emerging missile states will be crude and therefore not as much a concern as countermeasures deployed by Russia or China. Have you seen any activity on the part of Russia and China, as well as emerging missile states, to acquire more advanced countermeasures? Are Russia and China exporting countermeasure technologies?
MR. WALPOLE: Numerous countries have been looking at various options for dealing with missile defense, whether it's a theater- missile defense or a national missile defense. And, of course, ways to deal with that -- one simple way to deal with it is simply deploying more missiles; make sure you have more missiles deployed than the other side has defenses deployed.
But in addition to that, they have looked at other means for deploying those. Those means include such ideas as decoys or using jammers or making systems more accurate, other type of evasion technologies. Again, I don't want to get into specifics country by country in an open forum, but countries are looking at that. And we are working with the Department of Defense. We're letting them know what we're seeing specifically so they can plan for that.
SEN. AKAKA: The 1998 North Korean rocket launch was later determined to be a space-launch vehicle and a failed attempt to put an object in orbit. Do you believe North Korea's program has advanced sufficiently that it could orbit a satellite? And, if so, how could this be accomplished without operating testing -- operational testing?
MR. WALPOLE: You're correctly -- you're completely accurate in saying that we later discovered it was a space-launch vehicle. We had expected a missile launch. We had expected a two-stage missile launch for the Taepo Dong I. We had been following that program for some time and it went off. We thought something went wrong; we couldn't figure out what. And it took us a while to sort out what was happening.
Meanwhile, North Korea announced they'd put a satellite in orbit. Well, that made us relook at the data to figure out what it was we had missed. I point that out and go over that painful memory of what had happened just to show that we're getting a little insight into these programs and we have to make projections as to where they're going.
But it also underscores there is very little difference between a space-launch vehicle and a missile. The difference is you put a satellite up with a space-launch vehicle and you attack somebody with a missile. Otherwise the booster is identical. And so we couldn't discern it immediately.
It also underscores that we did not know about the existence of the third stage until that launch. So when you ask me a question, "Could North Korea have progressed from 1998 four years later, three and a half years later, to where we are now, to where they could put a satellite into orbit?" my answer would have to be yes on the "could" front, and even on the "likely" front would have to be yes, since we didn't see that third stage until it was flown. And it almost put the satellite into orbit even then. It would be hard for me to argue that they probably -- that the likelihood of success is slim. I think the likelihood of success would be much higher now.
SEN. AKAKA: Iraq continues to work on converting L-29 jet trainer aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles. These refurbished aircraft are believed to have been modified to deliver chemical or biological weapons. Will future estimates be expanded to include unmanned aerial vehicles?
MR. WALPOLE: There are actually two estimates at play, and we are looking at a way to either merge them or link them better, minus the ballistic missile estimate, and we mentioned a few comments about cruise missiles.
The national intelligence officer for conventional military issues, General John Landry, does the cruise missile estimate, and he would look at that. But I think next year's ballistic-missile NIE will even have more of that in it. But that type of issue is definitely being looked at.
SEN. AKAKA: Ballistic missiles receive top priority because they are already widely available, while land-attack cruise missiles have only begun to emerge as a threat. Have you seen an increase in the number of states interested in cruise missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, it's fair to say that we have. Part of the reason for the continued interest in ballistic missiles is the range. In order to reach the United States, Iran and Iraq would need 10,000- kilometer range -- 9,000, 10,000 kilometers. That's a pretty hefty cruise missile. And a ballistic missile is going to be easier for that.
No one's really deployed a 10,000-kilometer-range cruise missile before. It's doable. The United States could certainly create something like that if it wanted. That's why you're going to see continued interest in ballistic missiles. That said, cruise missiles, particularly giving yourself several-hundred-kilometer range, is an alternative that countries are looking at.
SEN. AKAKA: What is the likelihood that terrorists acquiring -- of terrorists acquiring ballistic missiles with the intent of using them against the United States?
MR. WALPOLE: That's hard to calculate the likelihood on, in large part because the infrastructure required to launch a ballistic missile generally implies nation-state. So if you're talking about a terrorist that's supported by a nation-state, then acquisition may not even be the right word; you're still talking about the nation-state itself.
If you're talking about a terrorist group that's not getting nation-state support, then they would need somewhere to either develop or store the missile and then some platform. Even if the platform is a Scud on a Scud-launcher, putting it on a surface ship, bringing it to the United States, that still requires some steps along the way that -- it's not the same as getting a shoulder-launched missile you could then try to shoot an aircraft down with.
SEN. AKAKA: I will yield to my friend, Senator Cochran, for any of his questions.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. One of the significant differences between this estimate that you describe today and the one previously described two years ago is the way you word the threat, the description of the threat from Iran.
The previous estimate in '99, 1999, said that we would face ICBM threats most likely from North Korea and probably from Iran, but now the estimate says we will most likely face ICBM threats from North Korea and Iran. Could you explain why that has changed? And what significance does that wording change have?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, it's significant. Before we had -- let's call it three tiers. We had most likely North Korea, probably Iran, possibly Iraq. What has happened is Iran has moved up with North Korea. There's most likely North Korea and Iran. Iraq is still possibly. There's nobody in the probably category, which is fine.
So the significance is Iran has moved up. I would rather not go into the details for our moving it up in open session, but simply to say that our concerns about Iran pursuing an ICBM have gone up enough to move that.
SEN. COCHRAN: One other significant change that we have noted is that, in connection with the range of the North Korean missile capability, the 1999 estimate suggested that the Taepo Dong II, the two-stage missile, was capable of delivering a large payload to Alaska and Hawaii, which is a range of from 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers.
Now that missile is assessed as having a 10,000-kilometer range with the same-size payload, which would not only put them in position to strike Alaska and Hawaii but much of the western United States. Is that, in your estimate, a significant change?
MR. WALPOLE: That's significant as well. That takes into account -- as I said before, even though a flight-test moratorium is in place, development of a moratorium is not. And so it takes account for different things they could do to structure, materials and even payload lightening to give it an increased range for the system.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is this change in your assessment the result of things that North Korea has done to improve its missile or because you have a better understanding of the performance of the missile?
MR. WALPOLE: I know the answer to that. I'm trying to think of what to do in open session. Let's just say both.
SEN. COCHRAN: In assessing the Taepo Dong II, is this meant to suggest that if Iran would acquire that missile, would it be able to strike the United States with a nuclear-weapon-size payload? So how does this change the new assessment of Iran's ability, if any, to strike the United States if it were to acquire a Taepo Dong II?
MR. WALPOLE: Definitely with a three-stage, it could strike the United States; maybe with a two-stage. I don't know if I mentioned to this committee two years ago, but North Korea has the advantage. I mean, we all know the earth rotates. But because of the rotation of the earth, North Korea is launching in the direction that they get the benefit of that rotation to strike the United States.
Iran would be launching over the pole and they don't get that benefit. So a 10,000-kilometer-range missile would go -- it almost sounds silly -- but it will go longer launched from North Korea to the United States than it would from Iran. But I think it would still be able to reach parts of the United States.
SEN. COCHRAN: You mentioned that North Korea continues to develop technologies and capabilities in this ballistic-missile area, even though they haven't had flight tests. They've adhered to, I suppose, according to your estimate, the moratorium that they announced --
MR. WALPOLE: For the flight test, yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: -- for the flight testing. But are they likely to conduct other tests that could improve the reliability of their missiles without flight testing?
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, I would expect so, yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: So there's no moratorium on improving their technologies or enhancing the performance capabilities of the missiles they have without flight testing.
MR. WALPOLE: No moratorium, and we expect they're doing just that.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is the North Korean missile program more advanced today than it was two years ago, when you testified before our subcommittee?
MR. WALPOLE: I would say so, yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: Could you spell out ways it is different or has been improved?
MR. WALPOLE: Not any more than I've already done, again, in open session.
SEN. COCHRAN: Okay. There's been some discussion about delivering weapons of mass destruction using non-missile delivery means; truck bombs. People say that's more likely than the development and use of a ballistic missile for that purpose. And that's in your estimate, as a matter of fact.
Does this mean we shouldn't proceed with an acknowledged assessment that the capabilities continue to grow in these states that do have ballistic missiles, of using the missile, the capability of using the missile to deliver weapons of mass destruction?
MR. WALPOLE: No. In fact, as I said, we feel that we have to work both. Neither is a no-likelihood situation. And we've got to cover both threats.
SEN. COCHRAN: If these other ways of delivering a weapon of mass destruction are easier to build and maybe less costly, why would the nations who do have ballistic missiles continue to spend resources and efforts to develop longer-range ballistic missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: The non-missile delivery means don't provide the prestige, course of diplomacy, deterrence that the long-range missile does. You can let people know you have it or hint that you have it with the space-launch capability, and you gain that. The non-missile means are primarily terrorist-type weapons. You have to surprise somebody by using it.
If you surprise the United States and say, "We've got a ship right out there that's got a Scud pointed at you," I would hope that we would do something about it pretty quickly. It's a different type of threat. In fact, threat is not even the right word. It's more like just a use situation. That's why the nation-states go after the missiles.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is it a part of your estimate, then, that nation- states like North Korea, Iran, will continue these programs? They will not abandon these ballistic-missile programs in their efforts to increase the range and even the lethality of their weapons of mass destruction?
MR. WALPOLE: Not only do we not see them abandoning those; we project that they will not abandon those.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much, Senator Cochran. I would like to yield to Senator Domenici for any statement or any questions you may have.
SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R-NM): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Cochran, it's good to see you this morning -- this afternoon. The day's already gone by. Did you eat lunch?
SEN. COCHRAN: No, I haven't.
SEN. DOMENICI: I haven't either. I have a statement, but I think, in the interest of time, I'll ask you to put it in the record.
SEN. AKAKA: Without objection, it will be included in the record.
SEN. DOMENICI: Have there been questions on Iran and Iran's contribution in this area already? I don't want to repeat them.
SEN. AKAKA: Yes, we're completing the first question --
SEN. DOMENICI: Oh, I mean, has somebody asked questions about Iran's participation in this area? Well, let me -- there was a two- part article in the Post that suggested that Iran -- they have a drive to obtain long-range missile capability, and this article said that that drive and what they had accomplished was overstated. It cited interviews with Russian missile technologies who had been in Iran, and it described their missile program as modest at best.
This has been echoed by some U.S. experts who say that the Russian assistance is only at the basic research level and that the Iranian capability has been overestimated in the intelligence community. It concluded that Iran may be shifting its emphasis away from long-range missiles to short-range solid-fuel missiles to use against regional threats -- Israel, U.S. forces and the like.
It's pretty obvious to me that their intentions are pretty murky, not clearly defined. But let me just ask, as you know, there's been defense experts in this country that dispute this estimate finding concerning the capabilities of Iran. They say Russia's assistance to Iran in the area of technology and missiles is low-level at best and that the Iranian program is highly disorganized, as I indicated. Can you give us a sense of the veracity of these reports, that is, on the level of Russia's assistance to Iran as well as the (stated?) focus of the Iranian program?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah. First, I don't know which Russian experts are talking now, but I had some tell me in mid-'98, right after we'd done the March 1998 missile report, that we were overestimating Iran's and North Korea's capabilities. Of course, then in August '98, North Korea almost gets a satellite into orbit.
So the next time I met with those experts I said, "You know, the Taepo Dong I moved the North Korean threat from hypothetical to real," because they were telling me before that all I was doing was talking about hypothetical, what could happen.
Well, when North Korea did that, it became reality. So I guess I would say they tend to underestimate both what North Korea and Iran could do, and I'm not surprised there.
Secondly, I don't think Russia is going to want to tell us the extent of their assistance with Iran because they don't want us to know. And that's disconcerting on both fronts, both because of what Iran is getting and what Russia is doing, or at least Russian entities.
And the third point is one that we did discuss before. Without getting into details, the intelligence was sufficient this year in the estimate that we moved Iran in the hierarchy. Two years ago we said most likely North Korea, probably Iran, possibly Iraq, for an ICBM threat to the United States. Now we've moved Iran up with North Korea and say most likely North Korea and Iran, possibly Iraq.
And I told Senator Cochran that I couldn't give the details in an open session, but it was sufficient for us as a community to say that Iran has moved up. And even the agency that took the alternative view is not viewing that Iran hasn't moved up in concern. They're just saying they don't think they'll be successful. So I think that the experts that are looking at this aren't looking at everything I'm looking at.
SEN. DOMENICI: Well, on the countries that have this capability, which ones are disseminating the most anti-ballistic-missile technology from themselves to others? Who are the leaders in transferring? Is Russia one of them?
MR. WALPOLE: Transferring -- you mean counter, countermeasures?
SEN. DOMENICI: Helping another country enhance its capability.
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, its ballistic-missile capabilities.
SEN. DOMENICI: Yes.
MR. WALPOLE: I don't know what -- we rank three right up at the top, and it's Russia, China and North Korea. I don't -- I have not tried, and I'm not sure that we have tried to pick one out, because they have different clients. There's different ways they go about it and different things they're helping with. But I would rather just keep all three right there of top concern.
SEN. DOMENICI: Without going too far afield and just asking this one question in this regard, it is being said that the risk to the United States is far greater from somebody carrying in a missile of mass destruction or driving it in or bringing it over on a boat or assembling it here, one of the three.
Which is easier for the intelligence community to detect, the evolution of an interballistic missile system that can carry weapons of mass destruction or the technology and activities that would lead to a portable weapon of mass destruction?
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, the development of ballistic-missile capability would be by far easier to follow.
SEN. DOMENICI: The development of nuclear weapons in any traditional sense would be easier than those that are mobile, that you carry around? Is that correct?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah.
SEN. DOMENICI: So in our homeland defense, we have a more difficult job of homeland defense versus the potential for a weapon of mass destruction being used here - our job is more difficult versus the carry-on mobile type than it is from countries that might have a missile that could deliver --
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, yeah. And for these types of weapons, whether it's just manufacturing the weapon here in the United States and putting it in a water supply or something -- I mean, those are the types of scenarios we're looking at. And those are very hard for intelligence to track, whether it's domestic intelligence, FBI doing it, or whether we're trying to do it overseas.
SEN. DOMENICI: Well, over the years, in speaking with the national laboratories experts, Sandia and Los Alamos and Livermore, they always were of the impression that we could do more to put ourselves in a position of being able to discern activities in the weapons-of-mass-destruction area and that they thought there were some things we could, even homeland-wise, with reference to mobile activities that we weren't doing. Are you familiar with what they're talking about and what things we might be doing in our homeland defense in that regard, versus what we are doing now?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, I don't know exactly what they would be talking about today, other than -- I know, on the nuclear front, which is where I -- I work mostly the nuclear and the missile side, in terms of sensors and things like that. I'm sure that, thinking the same situation on biological and chemical, and even post-use, the capability to identify exactly what the agent was or whether there was an agent there, you would not want to have an incident occur that you thought was simply a conventional explosive and then find out four days later that it released something and people are starting to get sick. So you want to have those kind of detection capabilities. If that's what they are referring to, I'm familiar with that, but it could be much more than that that they're thinking of.
SEN. DOMENICI: I thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. AKAKA: Mr. Walpole, our forward-deployed forces and overseas interests face threats from both short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Which do you believe is the greater threat today?
MR. WALPOLE: What are the two that I'm comparing? The forward- based threats or --
SEN. AKAKA: The ballistic -- medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, ballistic versus cruise?
SEN. AKAKA: Yes.
MR. WALPOLE: Well, there's more ballistic missiles, so I guess I would have to throw in with the ballistic missiles. But I want to qualify the answer a little bit, in that when we're talking about short-range missile-use, whether it's cruise missile or ballistic missile, within their own region, these countries develop these for war-fighting purposes. They plan on using them. They're almost an extension of artillery, whether it's a cruise missile or a ballistic missile. So the likelihood of use in a conflict is higher than a missile they would develop for deterrence or diplomacy purposes.
North Korea would be more likely to launch a short-range system in a conflict, I would think, than it would to be launching an ICBM against the United States, particularly if the short-range system was conventionally armed. It would be a conventional conflict. With a long-range missile, it would be probably be nuclear. You've just crossed a lot of thresholds. And so that kind of factors into that likelihood there.
But the short-range systems are our system developed for use where the longer-range systems are systems developed for threat. Does that make sense? You get the course of diplomacy out of one and you have the war-fighting capability out of the other.
Now, if there was a major conflict and the country's going down the tubes fast, those lines all of a sudden blur. Does that help with that question?
SEN. AKAKA: Yes.
MR. WALPOLE: Okay.
SEN. AKAKA: One agency participating in the estimate judges that Iran is unlikely to achieve a successful test of an ICBM before the year 2015. Does this agency base its conclusion on technical capabilities or political conditions?
MR. WALPOLE: It's both. It's both. We all have to look at the track record and then try to forecast where that track record would go. That includes foreign assistance, so on, and difficulty getting foreign assistance and what it translates to. And most of the agencies have looked at that and said, "Yeah, they're moving down this path, and this is about when we see that they'll be flight testing this system. And even given a couple of failures, we expect there to be something to happen about this time frame." The other agency looked at it and said, "No, they're going to have more failures than that along the way, and we think it's going to be longer." I mean, that's really what it comes down to. But both are looking at technical and political factors.
SEN. AKAKA: The national intelligence estimate states that Iran is expanding its efforts to sell missile technology. To whom are they trying to sell missile technology? And have you identified the next- generation missile states?
MR. WALPOLE: I don't want to do that in open session. We almost -- we had to work real hard even to get that line in the unclassified piece because we were worried about that. We thought, "Now, we ought to be able to say this much," but that's about as far as we can go.
SEN. AKAKA: The estimate uses space-launch vehicle programs as an indication of an increased ICBM threat. While I appreciate that much of the technology is the same, is there a documented case of a nation converting a space-launch vehicle system to an ICBM?
MR. WALPOLE: It's probably generally been the other way around, but that does -- that doesn't undermine the judgment any.
The Chinese CSS4 ICBM -- the ICBM that I've talked about that they can put multiple RVs on top, that they have about 20 of -- that booster is the same as the Long March III, the mainstay of their space program. Our Titan ICBM was not a whole lot different than our Titan space-launch vehicle. When we did the arms-control negotiations with Russia -- with the Soviet Union and then Russia, we were both looking at options to, rather than waste ICBMs, converting them for space- launch purposes. That's because we all recognize the booster is basically the same. Conversion is not even so much the issue.
That said, we look at these issues -- part of it is in terms of hostile intent. Japan has a space-launch vehicle, but you don't see our estimate talking about a Japanese ICBM. And the reason is obvious.
India -- even though we talk about India and Pakistan's missile forces, India has an ICBM -- a space launch vehicle that could be flown on an ICBM trajectory if they wanted. It would be really big and wouldn't work the way we would want an ICBM to work, but it could do that. We don't include that in here because of the intent situation.
So a country that has space-launch capabilities has an inherent ICBM capability, but we factor hostile intent into our -- or just hostile feelings, anyway -- into our assessments. But rest assured that the boosters for space-launch vehicles and ICBMs are so close to identical that if you see a country with hostile intent developing a space-launch vehicle, you'd better be worried.
SEN. AKAKA: Did your assessment consider whether or not Russia might choose to maintain their nuclear-weapon production capability or to include multiple reentry-vehicle warheads to keep up with the sizeable responsive force proposed by the administration in its recent nuclear-posture review?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes, we factored all of that in, and we're still getting them coming down. That's why I say "with or without arms control."
SEN. AKAKA: Missiles are just a delivery mechanism. So the threats we face are not due to missiles but from the payloads they carry. What we need to address is the WMD threat. How have our non- proliferation and assistance programs to the former Soviet Union factored into your threat assessment?
MR. WALPOLE: Non-proliferation programs to the former Soviet Union.
SEN. AKAKA: Yes. Non-proliferation and assistance programs to the former Soviet Union. How did that factor --
MR. WALPOLE: You mean keeping Russian fissile material secure and things like that or -- I mean, it all factored in, yes. We --
SEN. AKAKA: And their assistance programs, and how did that factor into your threat assessment?
MR. WALPOLE: It -- as far as controlling fissile material or their nuclear warheads for that matter, it factors in our calculations for how quickly countries could get a nuclear weapon. As far as non- proliferation efforts to try to convince Russia not to help some of these other countries, the best case is Iran, where, again, Russia doesn't want us to know how much they're helping Iran, but they're helping Iran more than Russia is willing to admit. So obviously that factors in, as well, because we're seeing this foreign assistance continue, and we track that out for our projections 15 years.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you. I will yield to Senator Cochran for any questions.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, on that subject, it is perplexing when you discuss this issue with Russians. You come away with a real realization that they want us to believe that there is no official approval or participation. There is no nation-state program of assistance to Iran. But they know there are people or other entities -- and you used the phrase "entities" a while ago -- that are based in Russia or that are from Russia that are involved, clearly, in assisting in the missile-development program and maybe weapons-of- mass-destruction development programs. To what extent does your estimate try to point out the difference or, if there is a difference, and if there is a differences, does it matter if there is a difference, if it's an officially endorsed or sanctioned or aided-and- abetted program or if it's one that just involves other entities but they're based in Russia? Does it make any difference?
MR. WALPOLE: Generally it does not make a difference for the threat assessment whether it's a Russian entity or -- Russia, officially -- or Chinese entity, China officially. I say "generally," because you might get better assistance from some official source, because you're going to get, perhaps, access to others. But generally it's not. We don't really go into a big distinction there. I use the word "entity" in the estimate because that's what we're getting from the non-proliferation experts. In fact, I've used the word "entity" more in the last several years in these type of estimates than I've ever used in any other job before.
There are experts that are trying to look at that specific problem -- for Russia, for China, for North Korea, for that matter -- and that's in the WINPACC, Weapons Intelligence Proliferation and Arms Control Center that was organized a little over a year ago -- to try to sort out what tools could help slow or stop the proliferation. There, it makes a difference -- if it's just an entity, as opposed to official, how you go about getting it stopped. But for the threat estimate, it's not a big difference.
SEN. COCHRAN: Okay. You were talking a little while ago about the value of a long-range missile capability in terms of the threat, in terms of the coercive nature of that power. In that connection, is it necessary for a country to actually threaten us in order for the capability to be valuable to them as a matter of national policy or influence?
MR. WALPOLE: Do they actually have to --
SEN. COCHRAN: Or just the existence of the capability, is that the threat?
MR. WALPOLE: A couple of answers to that. Secretary Rumsfeld, while he was chairman of the Rumsfeld Commission, had pointed out that had Iraq had either an IRBM capable of striking Europe, London, or an ICBM capable of striking the United States prior to the Gulf War, how would votes on the Hill have gone? How would public support have gone? Even if Iraq had not done any overt threat, the mere existence of that system could have changed people's feelings. The first point that I make.
The second one is, look at how much mileage North Korea has gotten out of a failed Taepo Dong I launch and an un-flown Taepo Dong II system. Now, I'm one of the players in this, because I have to write intelligence assessments on what this thing is capable of doing. They haven't had to threaten anybody with it. They still claim it's a space-launch vehicle. So you can -- I mean, the answer to your question, I think, is built in in both of those situations. That's why we lay out in our estimate both what could happen and what we judge is likely to happen, because I can't -- we were surprised by that third stage. I don't want to be surprised again, but I don't want to have readers think that our "coulds" are the only judgments we have. I think that would be wrong, if all we published was the "could" judgments. We have to publish our best estimates, but we have to tell you, "We might be wrong in that, and this thing could go faster, and this is where it could fall."
SEN. COCHRAN: In comparing the value of a long-range missile threat with a more primitive way of delivering a weapon of mass destruction, do you think North Korea could have achieved the same benefits if it had developed a non-missile means of delivering its nuclear weapons, if it has nuclear weapons?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah. Only if you don't know about it -- (chuckles) -- you can't feel threatened by it. So if they developed a non-missile delivery means, they would have to have somehow let the world know they have it so that you could feel threatened by it. And it would have to be secure enough that you couldn't eliminate it -- you know, so I -- I mean, all of it depends on intent. If your intent is simply to kill a lot of people, there are easier ways to do that than a ballistic missile. If your intent is to hold a policy or a doctrine or a group of people hostage to a potential strike, then the missile has some value that the other does not.
SEN. COCHRAN: One of the changes in the estimate this year from two years ago suggests that proliferation has been enhanced between these two dates. There's more foreign assistance flowing to the countries that are trying to improve their capabilities, so the estimate concludes that a substantial decrease in assistance would delay an Iranian ICBM program, for example. Has there been any change, in terms of halting or slowing down or reducing foreign assistance to Iran in the last two years?
MR. WALPOLE: I don't think so. What has changed significantly in this is that you're now getting the second-tier proliferators -- North Korea stepping out as a proliferator; Iran stepping out as a proliferator -- so that all of our efforts to try to get first our allies, then Russia and China to back off -- we're now having the next tier come along and sharing.
SEN. COCHRAN: It's kind of like the cat's out of the bag, sort of thing. Or is that a good analogy?
MR. WALPOLE: That's how some people would put it.
SEN. COCHRAN: But even if this assistance were halted today, do you think Iran would still be able to develop an ICBM?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes. It would just take a lot longer.
SEN. COCHRAN: You want to tell us how much longer? Is that something you can tell us?
MR. WALPOLE: If it -- it's hard for me to even think hypothetically that all of it stops, because I guess I don't see that happening. I get asked that sometimes, and I -- you know, I struggle with it because it's hard for me to fathom. But let's just assume that all of it stops completely. I think you're pushed into the next decade and perhaps well into the next decade.
SEN. COCHRAN: There appears to be a difference of opinion within the intelligence community about the timing of -- the maturation of the ICBM program. Is there any debate about whether Iran is attempting to acquire or develop an intercontinental ballistic missile?
MR. WALPOLE: No. No that's why I underscore the agency that said they dissented was only on success, not on intent.
SEN. COCHRAN: Do you think there is consensus in the community that Iran could develop and flight-test an ICBM before the year 2010?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes -- again, with the caveat of success.
SEN. COCHRAN: All right. So the debate appears to be over whether Iran will have a successful flight test by 2010 or 2015.
MR. WALPOLE: Right.
SEN. COCHRAN: So how difficult is it, then, to predict whether a nation will or will not have a successful flight test?
MR. WALPOLE: Well, now you've hit on the -- on the crux of the matter.
I have a hard enough time projecting when a country could and is likely to test; I don't know how I'd project whether it's successful or not. Again, you look at the Taepong Dong I. We were looking at that and thinking it was failed two-stage test, then we thought, no, it was a failed space-launch vehicle, but gee, the first two stages worked just fine. I mean, and that's looking at data after the fact. So projecting 15 years out, 10 years out, I would have trouble projecting success or failure. We tend to think in terms of success, because we're not just writing an estimate and and saying, "Oh, well, all of our dates are based on failures; we don't think there's really a threat out there, we're just projecting failure." We are trying to project success. So to be fair to that other agency, that's where we're leaning. But they then cut that line a little bit thinner and said, "But everything that happens before 2015 will be a failure." I don't have confidence in making that judgment.
SEN. COCHRAN: My last question about Iran is that your estimates suggest that Iran is expanding its efforts to sell missile technology; does Iran have technology that other countries would be interested in acquiring? And could it become a supplier of ballistic missile technology?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, I have a few more questions about Russia and China. Should I go ahead and do those, or do you want to -- or would Senator Domenici like to ask some more questions?
SEN. AKAKA: Let me yield to Senator Domenici.
SEN. COCHRAN: Fine.
SEN. DOMENICI: I have two questions, Senator Cochran, and I'll be finished.
You know, we're now concerned, in our war against terrorism, with determining who has weapons of mass destruction and under what conditions. And it would appear to this senator that we're not doing that just to find out, but we're doing that to find out who it is that has them. It seems to me we have made a calculation that it's one thing for India and Pakistan to have nuclear weapons -- which they have now. We didn't try to take them out. We didn't say to them, as we saw them develop -- and surely we did; they didn't just come dropping out of the sky, you all told us about them on a regular basis as they evolved from the trucks building an area and cleaning it up and getting it ready, to 12 years later a missile in a -- I mean, a nuclear weapon.
Today you look at the world, you who help a president make a decision, and you must try to calculate not only who has them, not only where they are, but who is it that controls them, and there must be a distinction by our leadership as to what we should do about who holds them or who is about to develop them.
So that if you listened to the president's speech today in the While House Rose Garden -- and I happened to be there -- I think it's a very, very important speech for people that keep talking about Iraq and what are you going to do about that to read. I came away with the impression, that I thought myself, but that was that we can't let a country that has no conscience and has a record of not caring about human life -- we can't sit by and watch them develop weapons of mass destruction.
That's paraphrasing, but that's pretty close.
Can you tell me who makes the decision -- how does that process take place in the United States, the determination that that country's not the right one to have weapons of mass destruction, but maybe this one is okay; we don't want that to happen, but it's okay -- do you help in that? Does the CIA help in that?
MR. WALPOLE: We prepare estimates of where various countries are in their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. We've given short summaries in this unclassified paper, but you can imagine, while I can talk more openly about ballistic missile developments, it's going to be really hard to talk about countries' nuclear weapons developments, just because of the fragility of the intelligence.
But we do assess --
SEN. DOMENICI: They need to go together in some instances. They may go together --
MR. WALPOLE: Oh, they may go together.
SEN. DOMENICI: But go ahead.
MR. WALPOLE: But tests -- flight testing, infrastructure, and so on, for ballistic missiles are --
SEN. DOMENICI: I understand.
MR. WALPOLE: -- they're harder to hide and so on. It's just easier for me to do that openly and not lose sources. If I start talking about some of the ins and outs of our nuclear analysis, then I -- we wouldn't be able to do the work anymore.
But we do those assessments. Those -- some of those conclusions are factored into what I've even covered today for the various countries. So we submit that information -- how long it would take Iran to get a nuclear weapon, how long Iraq, you know --
SEN. DOMENICI: Yes.
MR. WALPOLE: -- all the way down all the countries, what they've got in terms of infrastructure, in terms of aspirations, and so on, and the same with chemical. Larry Gershwin does biological. John Landry, other national intelligence officers do chemical weapons. All that information is forwarded to the policy committees that work through those questions. I don't know who makes that decision, but part of our assessment in India and Pakistan, in Iran, wherever, where we can discern who in that country would control those weapons, what type of nuclear doctrine they would have, command and controls, security, and so on -- all of that's factored in. You can imagine that we were constantly covering requests, some of them coming from the Hill, on Pakistan's command and control, and the security of those weapons --
SEN. DOMENICI: Right.
MR. WALPOLE: -- given what was taking place. So that all gets generated with the intelligence community for others to make that decision.
SEN. DOMENICI: Well, it seems to me that it's almost a political decision in the end, and it's a decision on what kind of person -- people are going to control the weapon. And that's not a decision that's made based on total objectivity; it's also based on some subjectivity as to what they are apt to do with a weapon, right?
MR. WALPOLE: I would imagine it would be, yes.
SEN. DOMENICI: I would assume there's no other way to do it.
Now let me just ask my last question, with reference to Russia. I didn't for today add up the money we are giving to Russia for programs that we are calling nonproliferation, everything from Nunn- Lugar to other programs that we have put in the appropriation process to help them make sure that the proliferation ingredients are not spread all over and that they can take inventory of them and that they can better police them, and money to pay scientists, so they aren't just running around selling the secrets.
But in essence, they get quite a few billions of dollars from all of that combined each year. What -- what would you say the impact on Russia's continuation -- continuing to supply information supplies and the like regarding nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles or other weapons of mass destruction? What would you say about the relationship of us giving them this money and them doing those kind of acts in the world in a clandestine manner? Should there be a relationship? Should we say, "Why should we keep on?" That's going to come up, and it would be nice to hear what -- somebody in the intelligence field thinks about it.
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah. The question's going to come up. The question has come up, and I think what you have to do in looking at those types of calculations is what would it be -- it's not a "This much money's going to this, and they're doing this much to help over here; they ought to cancel each other out." It ought to be, "What would the situation be if we weren't doing this? What would the situation be if Russia's weapons were not as secure as we have helped them to be -- if Russia's materiel was not as secure we had helped it to be?"
When you make that sort of comparison, then what's going on in helping Iran, while still not something that you want to see happen, takes on a different light, and I think you've got to make a comparison that way. The world's not a perfect place, and we have to set up schemes that will make it better. We probably won't make it a perfect place but make it better. And that type of calculation is essential to that.
SEN. DOMENICI: It would seem to me, though, that there is some relationship that's a little more than that, and that -- that might be how much is all of the aid they receive -- which we are saying, "That aid's good for us, not for Russia." We wouldn't be giving it to them, right? But you get to a point where the aid and the activity that is -- that we don't want them to do may become quid pro quo. It may be that it could bad enough where we would say, "Look: We know about it. You continue to do it, we're just not going to have any of these programs." Now if it isn't that, what leverage do we have? Certainly what we give them by way of this exchange of resources under Nunn-Lugar, like -- would have no relevancy unless they knew that we might, at some point, cut it back if they didn't so-called "behave." Is that not true?
MR. WALPOLE: I think that would factor in, as well. And of course, all of that is what I would expect the policy makers are doing. We give them our assessments on where the programs are going, how the money is being used, as far as security of the weapons and what proliferation activities we're seeing made. And then somebody, thank goodness, at the other end, has to figure out what to do with all that.
SEN. DOMENICI: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much.
The French have opened negotiations, we understand, with South Korea about providing French rocket technology for future South Korean space-launch vehicles.
There have been concerns in the past regarding South Korea's missiles program that would be seen as violations of the Missile Technology Control Regime. Do you still have concerns that the South Korean program might violate the MTCR?
MR. WALPOLE: I'll leave the policymakers to determine violations and so on. But as I've said before, we view space-launch technology as directly applicable to missile technology. And whether France is helping South Korea or whether France is helping Iran or Iraq -- you see where I'm going with this -- it doesn't matter what country it is; we have got to view space-launch technology as aiding and abetting a ballistic missile program. And so from an intelligence perspective, of course we're concerned.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, there was a report released recently on the safety and security of Russia's nuclear weapons and materials by the intelligence community. Is it the view of the intelligence community that the Russians retain adequate security on their operationally deployed nuclear warheads?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: Could Russia retain more deployed warheads without an increased risk of nuclear weapons proliferation?
MR. WALPOLE: (Laughs.) I think Russia's going to have trouble retaining more warheads, proliferation notwithstanding. That was why the laugh. I was thinking the problem for Russia is maintaining the warheads, not that they're trying to do it in a secure manner. And it's really the delivery systems for the warheads. When we say that they'll fall below 2,000 with or without arms control, the problem is aging systems, economic constraints. They got out of cycle with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I mean, all of those things have gotten them to the point where they're going to have a difficult time maintaining those.
So the best way to answer your question is, I don't think they can maintain more, but if they could, they could do it without causing proliferation problems. Does that make sense?
SEN. COCHRAN: Yes.
MR. WALPOLE: Okay.
SEN. COCHRAN: Are you aware of any instances of an attempted theft of Russian nuclear weapons?
MR. WALPOLE: Other than what was in the paper?
SEN. COCHRAN: I'm just -- well, that's an instance, if it's in the paper or not. I mean, are you aware of any attempted theft?
MR. WALPOLE: Yes.
SEN. COCHRAN: Could you tell us about it, and how serious that would be in terms of endangerment, whether or not we should be concerned and try to take steps to protect ourselves?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, in the paper, we cite two -- two examples. One was weapons-usable material seized in Bulgaria in 1999, and the other was one that wasn't independently confirmed, but it was reports of a theft in '98. The claim was sufficient material to produce an atomic bomb. Didn't have any corroboration of that type of thing.
Our concern, as we note in the paper, and I want to confirm that we did this in the unclassified. Yes. I just want to make -- because I -- we published both the classified and the unclassified version of this report -- that we said, weapons-grade nuclear materials have been stolen from some Russian institutes. We assess that undetected smuggling has occurred, although we do not know the extent or magnitude of undetected thefts. Nevertheless, we are concerned about the total amount of material that could have been diverted in the last 10 years.
Our point in putting that together, and there's similar words in the classified version, but our point in putting that together was, look we're only detecting what we're detecting. We can't tell you what we're not seeing. And we're concerned, based on what we are seeing, that over a 10-year period of time, perhaps enough could have gotten out that somebody could do something with.
SEN. COCHRAN: You're talking about theft of nuclear materials. Do you know of an instance where there's been an attempted theft of a Russian nuclear weapon?
MR. WALPOLE: No, not confirmed. I mean, you've seen the reports. We all see the reports all the time. They end up in the press.
SEN. COCHRAN: But you're not aware of any attempted theft of a Russian nuclear weapon?
MR. WALPOLE: No.
SEN. COCHRAN: The estimate that you have described to us today says that China is modernizing its strategic missile forces. Can you tell us how long this modernization effort has been underway?
MR. WALPOLE: Yeah, since the mid-1980s. China became concerned about the survivability of its silos when the U.S. deployed the Trident II-D5, because it could then hit those silos.
SEN. COCHRAN: What do you think are the factors that are behind China's desire to modernize its military forces, and strategic military forces?
MR. WALPOLE: Largely to move to mobile, more survivable systems.
SEN. COCHRAN: Do you think they will expand their forces beyond the 75 to 100 assessed in your estimate now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty?
MR. WALPOLE: Our 75 to 100 takes into account U.S. decisions toward missile defense.
SEN. COCHRAN: So, do --
MR. WALPOLE: And we look at them doing multiple different options, but the 75 to 100 really reflect two different approaches. Seventy-five is more missiles, no multiple RVs on missiles. One- hundred is fewer missiles but multiple RVs on the CSS4s. And we don't know which way they would go, and so we're only speculating. In fact, when the report came out, one of the Chinese leaders had said that it was just baseless speculation. One out of two's not bad. (Laughs.) It's speculation. We are speculating. But it's far from baseless.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is there any relationship or correlation between our withdrawal from the ABM treaty on what they're doing?
MR. WALPOLE: I think there's a relationship. I think the relationship would be both the numbers of weapons they would put together and the types of weapons, because they would want to carry countermeasures on these that they would use. But the modernization program to develop the two mobilized CBMs and the one SLBM that I talked about -- they go back the 1980s.
SEN. COCHRAN: The estimate also says that China's development of a multiple reentry vehicle capability for its mobile ICBMs and its new SLDN -- BM -- would encounter significant technical hurdles that could be costly. How many missiles will China be able to place multiple reentry vehicles on?
MR. WALPOLE: In the near term, it would be the -- about 20 CSS- 4s that they have -- the big, large ICBM. The mobile ICBMs are smaller, and it would require a very small warhead for them to put multiple RBs on that.
SEN. COCHRAN: My final question is, do you think that China will attempt to develop multiple-warhead capability for its new missiles?
MR. WALPOLE: Over time, they might look at that. That would probably require nuclear testing to get something that small. But I don't think it's something that you would see them focused on for the near term. They might look at developing a larger mobile ICBM. I mean, we had the MX at one point. We were looking at the Peacekeeper, looking at being mobile. Russia has the SS-24 mobile. Those lent themselves to MIRV-ing because they were so large. That's an option, but then, neither of those systems were very mobile.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, while I don't have any more questions, I think this is really a very timely hearing, and I commend you and the staff of the subcommittee for scheduling this. Ironically, we're having this hearing on the six-day -- six-month anniversary of the attacks by the terrorists on our nation. Senator Collins made that comment in her opening statement. And while a lot of our attention is focused on the war against terrorism, what this hearing has shown and the estimate has shown is that we have to be reminded that the threat of ballistic-missile attack against our nation continues to get more serious, and this new estimate shows that in some ways, the situation has gotten worse since we had the hearing two years ago to talk about the intelligence community's assessment of the threat. So it's been a very important exercise for us, I think -- I know I've learned some new things, and our subcommittee will learn new things. And the Senate will be better prepared to recommend ways that we can protect ourselves against these new threats.
Thank you very much.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you for your comment, Senator Cochran.
I want to thank our witness, Mr. Walpole, for testifying this afternoon. There's no question that this has been stimulating and useful to this subcommittee.
I must say that I am concerned over the greater sophistication in both missiles and weapons by the countries that continue to develop them. Yes, fewer countries are developing missiles, but the ones that do so are devoting considerable effort to expanding their range and capability. And this is a compelling reason for continuing a missile defense program.
It is also a compelling reason to continue using diplomacy to enhance our international arms control agreements.
At the same time, we have to keep focus on present and future threats. We need to rank these dangers, prioritizing our precious time, energy, and resources in a comprehensive national strategy.
Today, as has been noted, is the six-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil. Unfortunately, this marks a tragic and all too real example of how the greatest immediate threat we face is from terrorists using means other than missiles or weapons of mass destruction to attack America. Mr. Walpole's testimony supports this disturbing conclusion. As we confront the implications of the range of possible threats against the United States, we must balance the resources needed to confront immediate enemies against those needed against future enemies.
This hearing has contributed to the public debate that is needed in this country as we formulate our national security policy. I appreciate the willingness of Mr. Walpole and his colleagues from the Central Intelligence Agency to discuss this topic with us publicly.
Mr. Walpole, we have no further questions at this time. However, members of the subcommittee may submit questions in writing for any of the witnesses. We would appreciate a timely response to any questions. The record will remain open for these questions and for further statements from my colleagues.
Again, I want to say thank you very much for your responses today. This hearing is adjourned. (Strikes gavel.)
MR. WALPOLE: Thank you.