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MR. VAN DIEPEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Cochran. It's my privilege to testify before you today on behalf of the State Department, on the important subject of multilateral nonproliferation regimes, which play a vital role in U.S. and international efforts to impede the spread of weapons of mass destruction, missiles for their delivery, and advanced conventional weapons.
Nonproliferation continues to be one of the most important and complex of America's foreign policy challenges. Preventing the spread of WMD and missiles is among the president's highest national security priorities. He has made clear that halting proliferation is a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy and that a comprehensive nonproliferation strategy is needed.
We are responding to this challenge with the active use of a broad range of tools: norms, export controls, interdiction, sanctions, counter-proliferation, deterrence, and direct diplomacy. Our tool kit also includes the multilateral nonproliferation arrangements or regimes: the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Zangger Committee, and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Members of these regimes agree as a matter of policy to control agreed lists of items according to agreed guidelines, implemented according to national laws.
The other key multilateral approaches are legally binding global treaties that establish basic norms: the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. These regimes and treaties have important contributions, in conjunction with the rest of our nonproliferation strategy, in slowing WMD and missile proliferation worldwide.
Through effective enforcement of comprehensive export controls, broad multilateral cooperation in halting shipments of proliferation concern, and active outreach to key non-members to increase their awareness of proliferation threats, the regimes and treaties have made it more difficult, more costly, and more time-consuming for programs of proliferation concern to obtain the expertise and material needed to advance their programs, compelling them to rely on older and often less effective technology. The treaties also have established a global political and legal barrier against the spread of WMD. The Chemical Weapons Convention and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, in particular, have international verification organizations that have a legal right to inspect and require other measures from state parties in order to promote compliance and provide a basis on which the international community can cooperate to enforce these norms.
My written testimony, which I hope to be entered into the record, describes the background, purpose and membership of each of these regimes and treaties.
Each of them continues to serve a vital role in the fight against proliferation. Each has recorded a number of successes and each faces unique challenges. I would like to review now the current effectiveness of the various mechanisms.
By the 1990's, the Australia Group had largely succeeded in removing its members as an inadvertent source of supply for nation state chemical/biological weapons programs. Since September 11th, the group has been focusing on revamping its controls to better address the terrorist threat. In 2002, the AG adopted licensing guidelines that include CBW terrorism as a reason for control, and became the first regime to require participants to have so-called catch-all controls, controls that cover non-listed items when destined for a CBW program, and the first regime to control intangible transfers of technology. The AG also agreed to control technology for the development and production of listed biological agents and equipment.
In recent years, AG members have begun to consider measures to address the cooperation between non-member countries on CBW programs. While the AG has been attacked in the BWC and CWC by some non-aligned countries seeking to abolish export controls, AG participants agree on the continued necessity and viability of the group, its compatibility with the conventions and the need to educate non-members on the regime. Dealing with a hostile environment in the BWC and the CWC will remain a priority.
Over the course of the Missile Technology Control Regime's 15- year history, the regime has persuaded most major suppliers to control responsibly their missile-related exports. We have reduced the number of countries with MTCR-class or category one missile programs, eliminating programs in Latin America and Central Europe. MTCR countries have cooperated to halt numerous shipments of proliferation concern. The MTCR has established a broad outreach program to increase awareness of the global missile threat. And the MTCR guidelines and annex have become the international standard for responsible missile-related export behavior.
In addition to the MTCR, the United States supports the wide acceptance of the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. Initiated by the MTCR countries in 1999, the code is intended to be a new, multilateral complement to the work of the MTCR. It will supplement, but not supplant, the MTCR. The code would consist of a small set of broad principles, general commitments and modest confidence-building measures. It is intended to be a voluntary political commitment to establish a broad multilateral norm against missile proliferation. It will complement the MTCR and other national missile nonproliferation efforts by establishing a widely subscribed consensus that countries should cooperate on a voluntary basis to impede missile proliferation. We hope the code will come into effect as early as the end of this year.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group's greatest successes included requiring full-scope safeguards as a condition of nuclear supply to non-nuclear states and controlling nuclear dual-use equipment and technology.
We've had notable success in gaining consensus within the Wassenaar Arrangement conventional regime on guidelines for the exports of man-portable air defense systems, expanding the arrangement's mandate to explicitly prevent terrorists from acquiring controlled items, and increasing categories for arms reporting. Wassenaar provides a useful forum for discussing developments that have a bearing on national export control policies, regional developments and possible mutual restraint.
The Biological Weapons Convention has served for nearly 30 years as an important international prohibition on nearly all activities associated with biological weapons. The BWC does not include a mechanism for checking compliance, as it is inherently unverifiable. Although the U.S. concluded that we could not support the approach embodied in the draft BWC protocol and that the protocol's flaws could not be fixed, we have proposed several important alternative measures to combat the BW threat. Such proposed measures include promotion of standards for biosafety and biosecurity, scientific and industrial codes of conduct, and improved disease surveillance. Our goal is to highlight compliance concerns and gain support from states parties for the U.S. package and other measures that would address the BW threat of today and the future. We hope that BWC parties can agree on measures that will effectively do so.
The Chemical Weapons Convention has helped reduce the threat from chemical weapons, resulting in international disclosure of chemical weapons programs in India, China and Iran. Stockpiles of chemical weapons, as well as chemical weapons production facilities, are being destroyed in Russia and a number of other countries.
Around the world, facilities that could be used for chemical-weapons- related purposes are subject to international inspection. The CWC demonstrates the value of properly designed multilateral agreements for placing constraints on potential proliferators. Our experience with the CWC demonstrates the need for supplementary mechanisms, such as the Australia Group, to assist like-minded states in coordinating national nonproliferation efforts. And it also demonstrates its critical importance to U.S. leadership not only in negotiating an agreement but also in ensuring that it is effectively implemented.
The nuclear nonproliferation treaties contributed importantly to stemming the tide of nuclear proliferation. States such as South Africa, Argentina and Brazil decided against nuclear weapons and joined the NPT. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, all former Soviet nuclear weapons were transferred to Russia. All other former Soviet states joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapons states. The NPT remains especially critical today, with the threat of nuclear terrorism. The periodic NPT review process called for in the treaty is an important means for addressing these issues, including strengthening the treaty's verification system.
As the key verification mechanism under the NPT, the International Atomic Energy Agency has performed well but has also been frank in recognizing its deficiencies and in proposing remedies. Over the past 10 years, the IAEA has taken several steps to improve its safeguard systems. Adoption by member states as a model additional protocol to existing safeguards agreements would strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the safeguard system.
After September 11th, the IAEA moved promptly to expand its programs to combat nuclear terrorism. The IAEA has served as an important source of assistance to developing countries which might otherwise not obtain the benefits of peaceful nuclear applications as envisaged for NPT parties in good standing. A strong, effective and efficient IAEA serves important U.S. interests. The IAEA must have sufficient and predictable funding resources to fulfill all aspects of its mission.
The Zangger Committee, the committee of NPT nuclear exporters, has taken the lead in developing supplier consensus to add enrichment, reprocessing and heavy-water-production commitment to the so-called trigger list that the group administers.
This talks about what we've done up until now, but nonproliferation faces a challenge in future. As the events of the past year have demonstrated, we face an increasing proliferation threat from terrorists and their state sponsors. The treaties face a continuous threat from states that would seek to violate them. We must scrutinize not only the nonproliferation regimes and treaties but all of our nonproliferation tools with an eye toward improving their effectiveness. These regimes and treaties have contributed greatly to international nonproliferation efforts, but we cannot become complacent.
As a starting point, rigorous, energetic and ever-vigilant enforcement is essential. Nonproliferation remains a perpetually unfinished project. More work always needs to be done. We must deal with continuing proliferation threats posed by countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, India and Pakistan. We must strengthen cooperation and cope with the impact of technological advances. We must continue to combat the terrorist threat. We must consider new potential threats, expand our nonproliferation tool kit and improve the efficiency of those tools we have.
My written testimony describes our ongoing and future efforts to address these challenges in some detail. To summarize, I would not the need for the regimes and treaties to focus on the following five priority areas:
First, regional nonproliferation -- focusing on steps beyond simply controlling our exports that we and our partners can take individually or collectively to impede proliferation.
Two, looking for ways these mechanisms can help deal with the threat of terrorism.
Three, continue to update control lists, to reflect technological advances and ensure that they keep pace with proliferation trends, including terrorism and the use of so-called dirty bombs or radiological dispersal devices.
Four, work to extend export controls in line with regime standards to all potential suppliers, as well as to those countries that serve as transshipment points.
And five, increase efforts to make non-members more aware of the threat and consequences of the proliferation, urge them to adopt policies and practices consistent with regime standards, and provide export control assistance as necessary.
In closing, multilateral nonproliferation regimes and treaties have an important role to play as two components of a comprehensive approach to advancing U.S. national security and nonproliferation policy. They must remain vibrant, active tools focused on their collective and individual core mission: impeding threatening weapons programs, especially by impeding the spread of weapons and related equipment and technology, and reinforcing and verifying treaty obligations against the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.
At the same time, these multilateral instruments must also possess the flexibility to adapt to new challenges on the battlefield of proliferation. The continued exercise of strong U.S. leadership will play an indispensable role in strengthening these multilateral regimes and treaties to better combat proliferation.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much for your statement.
Mr. Billingslea, please proceed with your statement.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Chairman Akaka, Senator Cochran, as requested, today I will provide the views of the Department of Defense regarding the effectiveness of current multilateral nonproliferation regimes and organizations in preventing WMD and missile proliferation. I will discuss some of the emerging trends that we are witnessing and how these regimes are able or unable to address such developments. I will then conclude with a look at where we should go from here.
I'll start by characterizing the growing WMD threat. In terms of the terrorist dimension of the problem, we see an alarming pattern developing. With increasing frequency since the mid-1980s, we've seen a steady growth in the awareness of and interest in WMD by terrorist groups. These groups are aggressively trying to procure the necessary materials to conduct a WMD attack. For instance, Osama bin Laden has publicly announced his WMD aspirations. He has likened the acquisition and use of WMD to a religious duty.
Our friends and allies have on several occasions thwarted WMD acquisition efforts, whether we're talking about cyanide smuggling or trafficking in radiological materials. A few months ago, for instance, a terrorist cell was caught with a cyanide compound and a map of the U.S. embassy in Rome.
But though we've had some important successes, we know we are not completely blocking WMD procurement efforts by terrorist organizations. Part of the problem is that much of the equipment used to make and deliver WMD is commercially available from a large number of sources. It is very difficult to track dual-use technology and to stop it from falling into the wrong hands. The manufacturing equipment is generally small. It's generally portable. It is easily concealed.
For instance, this hearing room is big enough to house a complete nerve agent production facility, and even less sp[ace -- the anteroom -- would be needed for a biological weapons production program.
Likewise, terrorist groups have both used and are interested in a variety of delivery mechanisms for their WMD -- again, many of which can be constructed or adapted from commonly available materials or systems, such as pesticide sprayers. There are, in short, seemingly infinite ways that a determined terrorist group could conduct a WMD attack. As you can see, it is difficult to combat the spread of this capability through multilateral arms control instruments, such as treaties or export control regimes, though we believe that these regimes are generally helpful to the overall effort to block proliferation.
Terrorist WMD aspirations and threats are receiving a high degree of attention from the Bush administration because the results of a WMD attack by terrorist groups or by countries could be catastrophic. We are particularly intent on ensuring that these groups are not able to obtain highly contagious pathogens. Giving added emphasis to our efforts is a variety of excellent work being done by the medical and academic community regarding the various unconventional threats we now face. In particular, I would like to direct the attention of the subcommittee to the recent work done by Johns Hopkins University in an exercise called Dark Winter. I summarize the results of that exercise in my testimony.
In addition to the fact that many terrorist groups are known to harbor WMD ambitions, there is another worrisome linkage. Every country that is a "state sponsor of terrorism," quote-unquote, also is pursuing its own national level WMD and missile programs. In other words, every country that harbors, funds or otherwise assists terrorist groups as a matter of government policy also as a matter of government policy is pursuing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and missile systems to deliver these weapons. Countries such as Iran and Syria continue to support terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups such as the PFLP-GC.
Some of the groups, like Hamas, are exploring ways to utilize WMD. Hamas is working with poisons and chemicals in an effort to coat suicide bomb fragments. At the same time, both Iran and Syria themselves have robust chemical warfare programs and both are exploring biological weapons. Both countries can deliver these weapons by a variety of means, via short-range missile systems such as Scuds or by artillery shells, and Iran is making strides in developing the Shahab-3 medium-range missile and longer-range systems. We also believe that Iran is pursuing aggressively a nuclear weapons capability and we are concerned that the Bushehr nuclear power project is in reality a pretext for the creation of an infrastructure that is designed to help Tehran acquire atomic weapons.
The same worrisome linkage exists in other terror-abetting countries. Cuba, for instance, has a limited developmental research effort relating to biological weapons and also harbors terrorist groups such as the Basque separatist ETA and FARC and ELN operatives. Iraq, which stands in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions and which expelled international weapons inspectors several years ago, is believed to be rebuilding its WMD infrastructure. On the terrorism side, Iraq today continues to harbor several terrorist organizations and provides bases of operations for groups such as the PKK, MEK, Abu Nidal, and the Palestinian Liberation Front.
The linkage between terrorist groups and countries with WMD aspirations concerns us for several reasons. First, these countries give wide latitude to terrorist groups that operate within their borders. Terrorists are able to establish training and research camps where they are free to develop WMD and to perfect their plans for delivery. There also is a very dangerous potential that equipment and expertise meant for a state-level program could fall into the hands of terrorist groups, either unintentionally or by design. Finally, we are worried by the potential for our country to use terrorist networks to conduct a WMD attack.
I'll turn now to an assessment of the nonproliferation regimes. President Bush has placed a high priority on combatting the spread of WMD and their delivery systems. We've moved rapidly to counter imminent terrorist threats and to identify and thwart future ones. In countering these urgent threats, President Bush has stated that traditional Cold-War concepts such as deterrence and containment may no longer be appropriate in every situation. The international security situation has changed and we must adapt our nonproliferation and defense strategies to recognize these changes.
Over the past 50 years, we have achieved important success in stemming the proliferation of WMD through a variety of mechanisms, ranging from treaties to multilateral technology control mechanisms, such as the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Domestic export controls and transshipment laws and regulations designed to control the movement of sensitive goods and technologies also are very important.
That said, while the traditional nonproliferation policy instruments the U.S. has used to combat the proliferation of WMD -- again, international treaties, multilateral export control regimes, and so forth -- these continue to have value in the collective international nonproliferation framework, but they also have limitations. One of the limitations is enforceability. At this stage, for instance, several countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Cuba, seem able to violate their obligations under treaties such as the Biological Weapons Convention with relative impunity. The United States continues to employ treaty compliance as an issue at annual or biannual review conferences associated with these treaties and regimes, but we have not received a great deal of support from even our closest allies.
In the case of multilateral export control regimes -- the MTCR, the Australia Group, Wassenaar -- these are voluntary, non-binding agreements, and an underlying assumption has been that members are like-minded and would implement voluntarily controls in a like-minded fashion. Unfortunately, in some instances, that has not always been the case.
Domestic export control laws and multilateral export and transshipment controls continue to be a vital part of the various successes that the United States and other allies have had, but with the global economy becoming more and more interconnected, dual-use items and technologies used to develop weapons of mass destruction cannot be effectively controlled without better cooperation among exporting and transit countries. Moreover, export controls and transshipment controls are only as good as the capability of those who adopt the measures in terms of their ability to enforce their laws and regulations. This is an area where the Department of Defense sees an opportunity for improvement. We need to look at ways to bolster our interaction and cooperation with key transit countries, most of whom are friendly to the United States, but who lack the technical capacity themselves to monitor and seize dangerous cargo. We also need to work on countering the ability of WMD states and terrorist organizations, denied an item by one country, to obtain the same item from other sources outside the reach of traditional nonproliferation treaties and regimes.
Finally, we're seeing new patterns in WMD-related trade developing that existing export control regimes are currently unable to address, but which I think can be expanded and adapted to address this problem. Increasingly, trade in WMD and missile-related items is occurring between countries outside of the regimes. This a new trend in secondary proliferation; that is former importers are now becoming exporters to other states of concern. And most troubling of all is the nexus that I've described between WMD state-sponsors of terrorism and terrorists themselves seeking these capabilities.
So as a result, the picture I paint today is a threat that is increasingly diverse, increasingly unpredictable, dangerous, and difficult to counter using traditional measures. But while these dangers are growing, the U.S. and our allies, the international community, are formulating ways to improve our ability to deal effectively with these new threats. We'll continue to use existing diplomatic and economic tools to engage with countries involved in proliferation activities to urge them to constrain, halt or reverse those activities; to encourage them to desist. And we will continue to work with and assist friends and allies in developing and implementing their own mechanisms, domestic export control regimes. But to meet the threat head-on and stop it is going to require a new definition of nonproliferation, a stronger global nonproliferation architecture and strenuous national efforts.
On the international front -- and here I will echo much of what my State Department colleague has said -- we need to expand and enhance and enforce existing international nonproliferation treaties and regimes.
This includes pursuing adoption of the IAEA's additional protocol. This is the protocol developed in the wake of Desert Storm and the discoveries of how Iraq was exploiting the existing protocol at that time. The new protocol plugs those loopholes. To encourage countries to adopt that treaty and to encourage other countries to fully comply with their obligations, both to the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. Naming names is a very powerful diplomatic tool that we will continue to use at these annual review conferences for these treaties.
The United States has also proposed an amendment to the 1988 Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea Treaty, the SUA convention. We've proposed to expand the coverage of that treaty to include a wider range of additional offenses, including terrorist acts. The proposed amendment that the United States is pushing will make it a criminal offense to carry or transport or cause to be carried or transported items that are in violation of the CWC or the BWC or the NPT. If adopted, this proposal would effectively transform the SUA Convention from an after-the-fact extradite-or-prosecute treaty to a proactive treaty where military forces could board ships in international water if they were carrying dual-use WMD-related materials.
We also need to continue to strengthen the multilateral export control regimes themselves to better equip them to combat the evolving global nonproliferation threat. Sensitive dual-use items and technology cannot be controlled effectively unless there's broad cooperation among exporting and transit countries. We've made an important start in this effort with the decision taken by the Australia Group to broaden the number of dual-use items that it controls.
But all of these steps taken together, unfortunately, are not going to be enough, given that yesterday's recipients of WMD-related systems and technologies are today's purveyors of WMD-related systems and technologies to other countries. As President Bush said in June at the West Point commencement ceremonies, "We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put faith in the word of tyrants who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties and then systematically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy. In the world we've entered, the only path to safety is the path of action."
So, in conclusion, from our standpoint, the future is ours to lose. In preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, there's no excuse for inaction. The U.S. and the international community must act and act decisively. As long as there are would-be proliferators or groups seeking WMD, we must remain vigilant and resolute, and we need to take the initiative away from these groups so that they're not able to choose the time and place of such an attack.
I thank the committee.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much, Mr. Billingslea, for your statement.
Mr. Billingslea, I just want to mention to you, since you mention Dark Winter, that we had some witnesses from Johns Hopkins who were with Dark Winter, and it was interesting to hear you mention that.
Mr. Van Diepen, according to an article in today's Washington Post, there was discussion among some of the administration about a preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear reactor before it becomes operational. Others argue that the reactor would be under International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards and does not pose a security risk.
My question is, what are we doing now to ensure that the IAEA has the financial and personnel resources to safeguard this facility?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Well, Senator, first of all, overall, we've been doing a lot to assist the IAEA in improving its safeguards system. Through the direct U.S. contributions, so-called voluntary additional contributions that we make, we provide a lot of assistance in terms of technology and expertise to help them boost their overall level of safeguards capability.
As Mr. Billingslea indicated, we have serious concerns about the Bushehr facility, and while certainly, you know, if and when that facility becomes operational, the IAEA will safeguard it and do the best job possible, our real concern runs to the -- sort of the cover that the existence of that facility and the large amount of equipment and technology and personnel attendant to it could provide for a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program. And IAEA safeguards of the reactor itself really would not deal effectively with that problem.
SEN. AKAKA: In your statement, you mention that -- and I quote -- "the IAEA must have sufficient and predictable financial resources to fulfill all aspects of its mission," unquote.
The IAEA has determined that it will need an additional $40 million to fulfill all the safeguard activities that it is being asked to do. The U.S. share amounts to $10 million. Is the U.S. providing this additional funding?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Senator, I don't know the exact answer to that particular question. I do know, again, that we've been making additional contributions, so-called voluntary contributions, that go beyond our assessed contribution. And we've been working both internally and with other countries to try and boost the overall level of funding for the IAEA safeguards activities. If you wish, we could provide you an answer for the record that specifically addresses that question.
SEN. AKAKA: Will you please do that?
And this next question is for both of you. The pledge by the U.S. and other nuclear states to never use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state were a significant factor in winning a consensus for an indefinite extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Administration officials openly state that we should expand our options for nuclear attacks and widen the number of targeted nations.
The question is, has the U.S. changed its policy? If so, do you think that this change will have any effect on compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty? (Pause.) Mr. Billingslea?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Senator, I think that the policy of the United States has been clearly articulated by both the president, by the national security adviser. It very much tracks with other statements for record under the previous administration. Secretary Cohen, for instance, made clear that any use of WMD against the United States, its friends, it allies, our troops overseas would be met with an overwhelming and devastating response. We would not specify in advance the nature of that response, but there should be no doubt in that fact.
SEN. AKAKA: Would you have any comment, Mr. Van Diepen?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Just, Mr. Chairman, that I'm certainly not aware of any change in policy in this area.
SEN. AKAKA: And to both of you: Has the administration engaged in any new discussions with either India or Pakistan concerning a possible resolution to bringing them into nonproliferation-treaty compliance?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: We've got extensive dialogues with both countries that include extensive nonproliferation discussions. And certainly, in those discussions, we made clear our desire that those countries restrain their programs to the maximum extent possible. And of course, our ultimate objective would be to see them -- (inaudible) -- would be necessary to sign up to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapons states. But the current reality is that there's no near-term prospect that those countries would take that step.
SEN. AKAKA: Would you have any comment to that, Mr. Billingslea?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: No, sir, I would agree with that assessment.
SEN. AKAKA: Mr. Van Diepen, last year the GAO produced a report that showed minimal emphasis by the State Department in recruiting and placing Americans in international organizations. We understand that the number of Americans employed by the IAEA has been decreasing. Could you tell us what efforts are being made to make it more attractive for Americans to accept employment at the IAEA?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Frankly, Senator, I don't know the answer to that question. I'll have to take that one for the record.
SEN. AKAKA: Oh. I'm not surprised at that answer, because we -- on this committee, Senator Voinovich and I have been pursuing what we call workforce or human-capital issues. And we find by some of the reports we're receiving that our country is going to be in critical need of people to work in our workforce. And we know that by next year, the baby boomers are going to be eligible to retire. And that goes on until the time when they will have to retire. And by then, we'll be in deep trouble if we don't begin to plan to recruit and hire people for the jobs.
Mr. Van Diepen, since September 11th, the IAEA has moved to expand its programs to combat nuclear terrorism. Did the emergency appropriations supplemental include a request for programs for the protection against nuclear terrorism through IAEA? If not, does the State Department still support the programs proposed by IAEA?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Senator, I don't know what was in the supplemental, but we are certainly strong supporters of the IAEA's efforts to deal with nuclear terrorism. We've been providing a lot of direct assistance in that effort. They're trying to come to help deal with this program of radiological dispersal devices, trying to locate and secure so-called "orphan" sources -- nuclear sources that could provide the basis for radiological dispersion devices that, particularly in the former Soviet Union, have literally been misplaced and can't be located. And so they're in the process of doing a lot of good work to deal with this problem. We are certainly very supportive of it. But I'm not aware of what was or was not in the supplemental.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank very much.
I want to yield for questions to Senator Cochran.
SEN. COCHRAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought it was fortuitous that in the morning's paper there was such a detailed discussion of the construction of the nuclear power reactor in Iran, where Russia is actively involved in the construction of that facility. Why is it, in your opinion -- and so we'll have this in the record -- why is it there's so much concern about the construction of that nuclear power plant, and why does it pose a threat, in the views of some, to our security and the security of other countries in that region of the world?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Well, we should start with examining the Iranian claim that the power reactor is to help bolster Iran's energy grid. The truth of the matter is that Iran is a major natural-gas producing company but they're flaring or venting six times more natural gas than any other major gas-producing nation. Now, the energy equivalent of the gas that they're venting or flaring off is three times what they're going to get out of that one reactor at Bushehr. So they could, for a fraction of the cost of the Bushehr plant, simply capture three times as much energy if they wanted to. So there's clearly something else going on here.
What's going on is Iranian recognition that possessing the Bushehr reactor will allow them to argue to have all of the other bits and pieces of a domestic nuclear infrastructure that ostensibly is designed to support the civil power plant, but in reality, we feel, is designed to support nuclear weapons ambitions. It also puts them in proximity to Russian firms and allows them to continue to try to obtain materials and expertise for what is, in effect, a violation of their NPT obligations.
SEN. COCHRAN: Is it true, as the paper suggests, that we still have five or six years left within which to decide how we're going to react to this, or do you think we're operating under a much shorter time constraint than that?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Senator, I think that -- I read the press story this morning and I think that there's -- I don't want to be overly alarmist, but I would also say that this is a pressing matter that has very much got the administration's attention. We have a tendency in the nonproliferation business to be overly sanguine that we can predict when windows, red-line thresh lines (sic/may mean thresholds) are crossed, and frequently find ourselves surprised. Often we only learn how wrong we were after the fact. So the only surprise here is that we keep allowing ourselves, as Secretary Rumsfeld says, we keep allowing ourselves getting surprised. We shouldn't do that. So I wouldn't want to debate five years, seven years. It's an ongoing matter of the highest priority for the administration. We're dealing with the Russians on this issue.
SEN. COCHRAN: Judging from press accounts, our president has been in active discussions with President Putin and others about this situation and has expressed our concerns, and requests that Russia take steps to see that this activity, the proliferation aspects of it, come to a halt. Do you have any indication now whether progress is being made in that area? That's diplomacy, and that's an effort to persuade and convince our friends in Russia that they have an obligation to take some positive steps here to ensure that security interests here and elsewhere, even in Russia, aren't threatened by the development of this nuclear capability in Iran.
What's your reaction to that, Mr. Van Diepen? Could you give us the status on that? What's the latest?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Well, this continues to be an issue that's discussed with the Russians regularly and at the highest levels. It was discussed at the recent summit and it's been discussed in every significant meeting of U.S. and Russian officials. And I think the honest answer is that it's a mixed picture.
On the one hand, because of the high-level U.S. efforts, since about mid-1997, the Russians have taken a number of important steps to help them deal with this problem. They've put in place very good export control legislation, including so-called "catch-all" controls, to deal with items not on multilateral lists. They have investigated some entities. They've taken some level of action. But the unfortunate truth is that Iranian, in particular, entities still continue to have substantial success in obtaining missile- and nuclear-related technologies from Russian entities.
So we are far from satisfied with the level of performance from the Russians. And so we continue to engage, we continue to try to get them to realize that this is a serious, ongoing problem that they need to devote the necessary resources and priority to because it's happening in their territory, so it's fundamentally their responsibility to get it fixed.
SEN. COCHRAN: We're also at a disadvantage with respect to discussions with Iranian officials because we don't have diplomatic relations, we don't have people there. Is that true? I mean, we have an impediment to our efforts to discuss this directly with Iranians.
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Well, I guess potentially implicit in your question is, is some assessment of the effectiveness of having such discussions. Certainly our European friends and others have had direct discussions with the Iranians on these matters, and the answers either range from, "We're not doing anything," to, "Hey, we live in a tough neighborhood." So it's not clear to me that the addition of a direct U.S.-Iranian dialogue on the subject would necessarily be all that helpful, given where they are. I think, frankly, that our other range of nonproliferation activities is more effective in impeding Iran's activities than a direct dialogue would be.
SEN. COCHRAN: There's a suggestion that the Iranians will agree that this reactor, and others that may come afterwards, would be subject to International Atomic Energy safeguards and inspections. What's your assessment of that, and will that help assuage our concerns, or should it, that there's no plutonium being converted to nuclear weapons?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Well, by treaty, the Iranians must subject reactors to IAEA inspections. So that's not an extra offer on their part; that's part of their current obligation as being a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And likewise, the Russians in this case also are obligated under the treaty to subject reactors to those kinds of safeguards.
I think the real issue is less with the reactor itself than with, as Marshall indicated, what having the reactor and the reactor project in place may allow the Iranians to do under the surface, and the sort of covert assistance that that could facilitate to a nuclear weapons program.
SEN. COCHRAN: It was also suggested in this article that the Russians plan to sell equipment -- or the Iranians plan to build four or five additional reactors after this project is over. Do you have any assessment of whether that's true or not? And what, if anything, does our administration intend to do to convince them they shouldn't do that, or take steps to dissuade them from it?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: My -- Marshall, you may correct me. But my recollection is there's been talk off and on for years about potential additional units at Bushehr.
And it remains to be seen to what extent that may eventuate. But, by definition, you know, our concerns about the current ongoing project would extend to any additional units, and additional units would simply make it easier to use the infrastructure of this project to try to facilitate a covert nuclear weapons program.
SEN. COCHRAN: Mr. Billingslea, anything to add on that?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Well, Senator, all I would say is that if we're upset about one reactor at Bushehr, you can imagine how upset we would be over the prospects of five or six. There --
SEN. COCHRAN: This is considered to be a very serious matter, as far as this administration is concerned?
MR. BILLINGSLEA: This is a very serious matter. We've had -- and the concern over Bushehr goes -- pre-dates this administration as well. There's been a great deal of success in turning off cooperation with the Bushehr project in terms of other countries. But the quest to obtain Russian cessation is ongoing and has not produced the kind of results we want yet.
SEN. COCHRAN: There was some talk at one time about our offering lucrative incentives to Russia to help them understand that it would be in their own interests if they took steps to stop this proliferation of technology and information that could be converted to weapons use. Has there been any indication that that has proven to have been a positive contribution to getting the Russians to do what we hope they will do?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Well, certainly, some of the progress we've seen out of the Russians, for example, legislation, actions against specific entities, has come in the context of previous efforts to use sort of a carrot-and-stick approach. For example, we in 1998 and 1999 used discretionary authorities to put penalties on certain Russian entities that were involved with Iran's missile or nuclear programs. And in the wake of that activity, there was a noticeable upsurge in Russian efforts on the legislative front. So, certainly, there's a generic understanding that the carrot-and-stick approach is helpful in getting progress, but we still have a substantial ways to go and the exact path ahead to get to where we want to go is sort of unclear right now.
. . .
SEN. COCHRAN: Another anomaly seems to me to be the situation with another missile system like the Theater High-Altitude Air Defense System. It's a long, slender missile, doesn't have the capacity really to accommodate a 500-kilogram payload, but because of the amount of energy and thrust it has and the capability to propel objects long distances in space -- long distances, it would probably be classified the same as the Arrow in terms of violating the -- or reaching the Category I definition.
MR. BILLINGSLEA: Senator, I wouldn't -- let me ask for us to go away and come back to you with the technical parameters on that, because I'm not -- I'm not certain that the THAAD system --
SEN. COCHRAN: That that's a correct analysis?
MR. VAN DIEPEN: Yeah, I also --
MR. BILLINGSLEA: My working assumption is --
SEN. COCHRAN: It would be good to know. Because if we are adhering to a standard that's really going to get us in deep trouble in terms of our own security interests and our allies' security interests, then we need to rethink it. That's all I'm saying. And that's why in my opening statement, I wondered aloud, what do we need to think through and what do we need to assess as serious challenges in this area? We're all in favor of doing everything we can to keep down the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles and that kind of thing, but in the effort to do that and adhering to the MTCR, we at the same time putting ourselves in jeopardy by our own interpretations and our own policies and our cooperative efforts with our friends around the world. I just don't want us to go off down a trail that ends up putting us in jeopardy.
MR. VAN DIEPEN: And there's certainly no intention to do that, Senator. And I think the -- you know, what we were able to work out with our Defense Department colleagues on UAV's is very much proof of the idea that we can, in fact, think ahead --
SEN. COCHRAN: Yeah, you're telling me -- these are the unmanned aerial vehicles that we are seeing now? The Global Hawk, Predator --
MR. BILLINGSLEA: But that's a good example, I think, of -- there's a lot of analogies to be drawn from that experience. When you look at Operation Enduring Freedom, you see what systems worked really well, what systems didn't, you come to the conclusion that there's a real future for UAV and weaponized (UAV ?) platforms. Now, the UAV family of systems have a lot of technical ties to basic cruise missile technology, and therefore do, in fact, potentially get caught up in the whole Missile Technology Control Regime effort.
But we were able to work out with the Department of State -- recognizing this fact, but also recognizing that we want to work with our NATO allies and our other allies to bring them along to capitalize upon this new generation of technology -- we were able to work out a regime that lets us cooperate with allies, but again in a way that does not jeopardize the effective functioning of the MTCR, which in and of itself, I have to say, is a valuable regime.
When you look at a lot of the threat missiles that we're dealing with today, one thing that can be said of a lot of it -- now, this is not perfectly true because you have a lot of Russian and Chinese technology increasingly mixed in -- but a lot of this stuff is based on Soviet-era Scud technology that's been configured and reconfigured in new and interesting ways to give longer and longer and more dangerous range.
So we've effectively channeled some of the foreign missile programs and the MTCR gets a lot of credit for that, but that's only part of the picture, and both active and passive defenses have to be brought into the equation here.
And in the case of India, Arrow -- with India -- Israeli cooperation with India, the jury is still out on that. The administration is working the issue. But we also need to hear from the Indians in terms of what they need, what they want, what kind of missile defense systems do they want to have, and for what ends. And we're pursuing that.
SEN. COCHRAN: Well thank you very much. I think your testimony today and your participation in this hearing have been very helpful to our depth of understanding and appreciation of the challenges that we face in trying to help support the administration's good efforts in this area.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you very much, Senator Cochran.
Mr. Van Diepen and Mr. Billingslea, thank you very much again for being with us today and for your statements. No question it will be a big help to this committee.
As your testimony indicates, without help from the states with weapons of mass destruction, terrorists will have significant difficulty in acquiring a WMD capability. We need to work on both ends of the problem; discouraging state WMD programs, as well as destroying terrorist organizations. We also need to strengthen current nonproliferation regimes.
As Mr. Van Diepen indicated, an activist agenda must use a broad range of tools -- and I like that tool kit description -- to limit proliferation. These tools include our bilateral assistance programs. We must be careful about the impact that weakening one of these tools will have on our overall nonproliferation goals.
For example, the administration froze funding for all Cooperative Threat Reduction programs because of Russian non-compliance to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Is America more secure after several months of stalled projects in the former Soviet Union? Is Russia more open to U.S. pleas to end their assistance to Iran's nuclear power plant? These issues are linked and must be answered.
Press reports indicate that Russia is proposing to construct five additional nuclear power plants in Iran. Where our bilateral efforts are insufficient, we should strengthen multilateral regimes. A fully funded IAEA is a good way to ensure a new Iranian nuclear reactor is not being used to advance a weapons program. Preventing terrorists from acquiring WMD is a complicated task, however, it is easier than the alternative of responding to a WMD terrorist attack.
Gentlemen, we have no further questions at this time. However, members of this 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, if my friend doesn't have any more statements --
SEN. COCHRAN: I have nothing further.
SEN. AKAKA: -- I would like to express my appreciation to all witnesses for their time and for sharing their insights with us. The hearing is adjourned.