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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Thursday, April 11, 1996 -1:30 p.m.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
April 11, 1996 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, April 11, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.

(Also participating in this new briefing is Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA)

Mr. Bacon: We have three briefers today for the presentation on the newproliferation report which I hope you've had a chance to read. Secretary Perrywill start, and then General Hughes, the head of the Defense IntelligenceAgency, followed by Ashton Carter, the Assistant Secretary of Defense forInternational Security Policy. Secretary Perry will not be able to take anyquestions, but General Hughes and Secretary Carter will.

Secretary Perry: During the Cold War, the Soviet Union created a massive anda deadly arsenal of nuclear weapons, including what we call the SS-18 and theSS-19 ICBMs. These created a truly dangerous threat to the United States. Inthe '60s we talked about the missile gap; in the '70s we talked about thewindow of vulnerability; in the '80s we were talking about a nuclear hairtrigger. I bring this up to remind you of the legacy of nuclear weapons whichhave concerned us for decades.

This threat was described during the '80s in a publication called SovietMilitary Power. I have spent most of my career one way or another trying todeal with these threats. During the '70s when I was the Under Secretary ofDefense, I initiated programs to enhance deterrence against this threat. Therewere programs to be deployed in the United States -- the MX, the ALCM, the B-2.We were deploying programs at sea -- the Trident submarine, the Trident I, theTrident II missile; programs in Europe, weapon systems in Europe -- the GLCM,ground launched cruise missile; the Pershing II with a penetrating nuclearwarhead.

Recalling this may make some of you nostalgic, but those are the kind ofthreats we were facing in those days. Those were the kind of defenses,deterrence threats that we were designing to deal with them.

During the '80s, President Reagan tried to supplement our deterrence programsby initiating a missile defense program called a Strategic DefenseInitiative.

All of these together, these deterrence programs, the defense programs, tookup a significant amount of the time and resources of this Department and itsleadership.

Today, with the Cold War over, the threat of nuclear holocaust is dramaticallyreduced, and our programs and our investments have been dramatically changedand correspondingly reduced. But another threat, in the mean time, hasincreased in intensity, and that threat, is the one of the proliferation ofweapons of mass destruction -- nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biologicalweapons -- proliferating to countries all over the world.

That threat, and the perception of that threat, has led us to develop acounterproliferation program which we're going to be describing to you today.This is described in a report which could be considered as the counterpart tothat red document, the Soviet Military Power document. Let me show you the tworeports we're talking about.

For those of you who are nostalgic, this is the 1985 version of SovietMilitary Power; and this is the report we've just released called Proliferation-- Threat and Response.

The achievement of this report is to pull together and make available to thepublic comprehensive information on proliferation threats, just as the oldSoviet Military Power did about the old Soviet missile threat, and ourresponses to those threats.

As the previous document, this is a basic tool for government officials, forjournalists, and for the interested public. This report gives clarity anddefinition to a subject that has defied it in the past and has been very hardfor the public to understand.

We break the report into two different sections. The first talking about thethreat itself; and the second talking about our response to the threat.

When we describe the threat, we talk about the countries that are acquiringnuclear, biological and chemical weapons and delivery systems; countries thatare supplying that technology. We talk about what we call transnationalthreats such as organized crime. And it provides information about weapons,delivery systems, and what we believe to be the acquisition strategies of theproliferants. All of that is in the first section of this proliferationreport.

The second part of it deals with the full range of the Department of Defense'sresponse to those threats. This counterproliferation effort of ours is amongour highest priority programs at the Department of Defense.

I want to show you in this first chart why we rate this as our highestpriority.

As this chart makes clear, we are trying to preserve our U.S. militarysuperiority. We start off observing that the U.S. conventional forces are thebest in the world, and we believe that they are quite capable of deterring anddefeating any other armed force with which we might be confronted. But a wildcard in this are the weapons of mass destruction -- the nuclear, chemical, andbiological. So we want to make sure that no one believes or tries todemonstrate that weapons of mass destruction can be used as an equalizeragainst U.S. conventional forces. That is our first reason.

The second is recognizing simply a new geopolitical development -- thedisintegration of the former Soviet Union has the potential of creating abuyer's market for weapons of mass destruction. We've gone from, simply withthe disintegration of the former Soviet Union, we now have four instead of onenuclear state there; we have chaotic conditions which make it harder to predictweapons and material; and we have economic pressures to sell expertise,materiel, and technology.

Finally, we have new technological developments. One way of expressing thisis that no matter how backward a country economically, today it can still havethe capability to build reactors and to generate plutonium, as was demonstratedby North Korea. Also we observe that some technology and some products thatwere once controlled, are now available, essentially by mail order from RadioShack. So for both of those reasons, the pace in technological change andgrowth has made much more difficult our problems in trying to controlproliferation.

So what do we do about this problem? Our response to it is first to try toprevent it; secondly, to deter the threat that we cannot prevent; and finally,if necessary, to defend against those threats.

The tools that we have for prevention are the reduction of the weapons of theformer Soviet Union through arms control. We'll talk about that today. But Iwould point out to you that the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program is one ofthe key tools we have for effecting that.

Secondly, we have ad hoc agreements that we can make, and the North KoreaFramework Agreement was a good example of that.

Third, we have sanctions -- sanctions that we have imposed, for example,against Iran and Iraq.

Finally, export controls. But we have to understand that, in this world, wehave to find new ways of preventing this technology from reaching the would-beproliferants. We have to focus these export controls in order to get thegreatest effectiveness.

In deterring this threat, we depend both on a strong conventional militaryforce and a smaller but still powerful nuclear force. In our nuclear posturereview, we reaffirmed the importance of maintaining nuclear weapons as adeterrent. But I would like to point out that both our conventional andnuclear force, as deterrents, not only must be strong, but they must beperceived that the United States has the will power to use that strength.

Finally, defense. Defense can be thought of as both passive defense andactive defense. Two years ago we started our counterproliferation initiative,and that put a major emphasis on organizing the efforts for passive defense, toget new defense equipment and training to our troops. Dr. Carter will talkmore about that today.

In addition to that, we started an active defense. We refocused our activedefense program through the ballistic missile defense effort. The firstpriority on that effort has been the theater missile defense to deal with thethreat which is here and now, which are the tactical ballistic missiles, suchas the SCUDs.

The second priority of that was to develop a new generation of systemsrepresented by THAAD and the Navy Wide Area System, which can deal with thelonger range tactical missiles when they emerge as threats. Then finally thenational missile defense program is laid out to meet the threat to the UnitedStates as it emerges. The present program is laid out in what we call theThree Plus Three program -- three years to develop the system, and then at theend of that time if it seems appropriate to deploy it, another three years toproduce it and deploy it.

I'm not going to discuss these proliferation challenges in much detail. Wehave listed numerous challenges here, but I want to point out, those are notour only challenges. These are simply the ones we expect to make significantprogress on this year.

For example, both the Fissile Material Protection and the Comprehensive TestBan Treaty will be discussed at the Nuclear Summit that's coming up in Moscow,and we expect progress to be made on those. We expect progress to be made onexport controls. And we expect a ratification of the Chemical WeaponsConvention Treaty.

Dr. Carter will talk more about these, but these are all challenges in whichwe expect significant progress this year.

I want to conclude my comments with a statement about the achievements thathave been made in the last few years. First on the list here is thedenuclearization of Ukraine, Kazakstan and Belarus. We have gone from fournuclear nations down to three because Kazakstan is now non-nuclear. By the endof the year we expect Ukraine and Belarus to be non-nuclear as well. Thatsimply reduces the problem of trying to control proliferation.

Parenthetically, I might say that during the same period of time we have taken3,400 nuclear warheads out of service.

The second item on this is Project Sapphire which is the purchase of thehighly enriched uranium which had been held by Kazakstan. We've talked aboutthat before in this group so I won't repeat it. We think that's a significantdevelopment.

The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has made very significant progress inprotecting the warheads -- protecting, controlling, counting the warheads inRussia. We think that is a significant achievement, and we are hoping andexpecting to extend that achievement this year to provide that same sort ofprotection and control to the fissile material which goes into thesewarheads.

The North Korea Framework Agreement -- that is an example of not onlycontrolling nuclear weapons but rolling them back. This is a program that waswell underway, has been rolled back, and for almost two years now, has beenstopped dead in its tracks by that framework agreement.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty extension that occurred a few months ago. TheDefense Counterproliferation Initiative which Dr. Carter will talk more abouttoday. Also he'll talk about this NATO Defense Group on Proliferation.

Finally, the potential, the achievements in export control and the potentialfor getting even more achievements this coming year. These have been realsuccesses. No reason to be complacent about these successes, but I've culledthem out because these are the successes on which we want to build in thiscoming year.

I'm going to be followed in my discussion by General Hughes, who will talkabout the threat; and then by Dr. Carter who will describe in more detail theprograms that we have to deal with these threats.


Q: Dr. Perry....

Q: Dr. Perry, can you tell us more on Libya...

Q: ...American...

Q: ...directly or indirectly through an intermediary, that they face apossible attack if they produce chemical weapons in that undergroundfacility?

A: Hold that for a minute. What was your question? (Laughter)

Q: Given the possibility of U.S. lives in jeopardy in Liberia, if you couldjust say how you think the operation there is going.

A: On the first question, you know the announcement, the statement that I'vemade on that. That has described whatever... If you would like to considerthat a warning to Libya, you can so consider it. I have not made any otherefforts to try to communicate this to them, either directly or indirectly.

In terms of the situation in Liberia, we have provided, I think, a quiteadequate lift capability to move out any of the American citizens who want toleave that area. Quite a few have already been brought out. Most of thoseAmerican citizens have gathered at the embassy and we're lifting them out fromwithin the embassy compound. Quite a few citizens are still at other locationsin the city, and those who want to be lifted out are now redeploying to theembassy, and we will be prepared to lift them out from there.

Q: Mr. Secretary, are you concerned about the Americans who are pinned down bythe hostile fire from the factions that are fighting in the capital city?

A: The American citizens who do want to move out are being moved at this timeto the embassy. I believe the programs for doing that are probably adequate.They've had very careful attention in the planning of them.