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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 213-98
May 06, 1998

SECRETARY COHEN FORWARDS CUBAN THREAT ASSESSMENT TO CONGRESS

Secretary of Defense William Cohen today sent Congress an intelligence assessment of the threat that Cuba poses to U.S. national security.

In letters transmitting the report, Secretary Cohen said: "While the assessment notes that the direct conventional threat by the Cuban military has decreased, I remain concerned about the use of Cuba as a base for intelligence activities directed against the United States, the potential threat that Cuba may pose to neighboring islands, Castro's continued dictatorship that represses the Cuban people's desire for political and economic freedom, and the potential instability that could accompany the end of his regime."

Cohen also said that he is concerned about Cuba's potential to develop and produce biological agents and the environmental health risks posed to the United States by potential accidents at the Juragua nuclear power facility.

The assessment was prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency to meet a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998. The DIA, working with the Central Intelligence Agency and other elements of the intelligence community, analyzed Cuba's military capabilities and the threat it presents to the United States.

The assessment addresses unconventional threats, such as the potential for encouraging mass migration and attacks on U.S. citizens engaged in peaceful protests in international waters or airspace. The intelligence community also looked at the potential for Cuban development of chemical and biological weapons and reviewed the potential for internal strife in Cuba that could involve citizens or residents of the United States or the U.S. armed forces.

In his letter to Congress, Secretary Cohen said that "the Defense Department remains vigilant to the concerns posed by Castro's Cuba. I have reviewed our contingency plans, and they are appropriate for the level and nature of the Cuban threat to U.S. national security."

Secretary Cohen's transmittal letter and the DIA assessment are attached.

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