Ballistic Missile Threat and U.S. Policy
(7/14/98/ 7:40 p.m.)
- We understand the Rumsfeld Commission criticizes the methodology used by the Intelligence Community (IC) in making ballistic missile threat assessments -- specifically, that the IC excessively discounts the importance of foreign technology transfer of Scud missile technology in helping rogue states acquire and ICBM capability with little or not extended warning to U.S. intelligence.
- The IC will seek to incorporate many of the recommendations of the Rumsfeld Commission relating to improving the process by which it conducts intelligence analysis in this crucial area.
- The IC stands by its most recent assessment of Foreign Missile Developments, as provide to the Congress in March of 1998.
- In this regard, it remains the view of the IC that it is unlikely the countries other than Russia, China and perhaps North Korea, will deploy an ICBM capable of reaching any part of the U.S. before 2010.
- This assessment reflects several extremely challenging systems integration factors unique to ICBM development programs that would have to be overcome by proliferant states -- even if they already possessed short-range missiles such as Scuds and even if they were receiving foreign assistance in the form of expertise or hardware.
- As noted by the independent panel of experts chaired by former DCI Robert Gates that looked into the missile threat issue at Congress' request a year and a half ago, these include: propulsion, re-entry vehicles, guidance, staging, the technical challenges of moving from a Scud-based derivative missile to an ICBM and more.
- For these reasons, among others, the Gates Commission concluded: "the intelligence community has a strong case that for sound technical reasons the United States is unlikely to face an indigenously developed and tested intercontinental ballistic missile threat from the third world before 2010, even taking into account the acquisition of foreign hardware and technical assistance, and that case is even stronger than was presented in the  estimate."
- The IC does not maintain, however, that such a development is impossible or that there are no uncertainties in its judgements.
- That is why the Administration has structured its National Missile Defense (NMD) program to be responsive to the possible emergence of a new long-range ballistic missile threat from a rogue nation, and to account for uncertainties about when and where threats may emerge.
- The Administration's "3+3 NMD Deployment Readiness Program" will develop and test by the year 2000 an NMD system that could be deployed as early as 2003 -- years ahead of the IC assessment of when rogue states, with the possible exception of North Korea, might reasonably be expected to deploy a missile capable of reaching our homeland.
- Should a threat emerge sooner than 2002, the United States will have options available to it -- including the deterrent provided by conventional and nuclear forces -- to deal with this contingency.
- While we are committed to maintaining the option of deploying an NMD system as early as 2003, any decision to proceed with deployment of a NMD -- or a particular theater missile defense system -- must take into account the technical feasibility of the proposed system.
- Our NMD program is being developed as fast as it can prudently proceed and already entails very high programmatic risk. It would not contribute to our national security if we were to spend tens of billions of dollars prematurely to deploy an NMD that was not effective.
- For these reasons, our NMD policy continues to be that while we will develop and test by the year 2000 an NMD system that could be deployed as early as 2003, our decision in the year 2000 on whether to deploy that system in 2003 or any year thereafter will depend on both the technical feasibility of the NMD system and our assessment of the emerging threat of possible missile attacks against the United States.
- We believe that this approach is the best way to ensure that any NMD deployment is responsive to, and effective against, actual threats to the American people.
- In the meantime, as the IC has made clear, it will act on the constructive criticism provided by the Rumsfeld Commission, together with the recommendations of Admiral Jeremiah following the Indian nuclear test, to ensure that whenever NMD deployment decisions are being considered, we have the most accurate and reliable assessment of the threat possible.
- We will also continue our efforts to impede the proliferation of missile technology -- a key U.S. policy objective for over 15 years.
- Energetic U.S. efforts have reduced the number of countries willing to supply technology to missile programs, and the number of ballistic missiles in existence. All of these steps have, in turn, impeded ballistic missile proliferation.
- Fewer Possessors. Ballistic missile programs have been eliminated from Argentina, Hungary and most other Central and Eastern European countries, and South Africa. These countries, as well as Brazil, have committed not to establish such programs in the future.
- Fewer Suppliers. The 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) resulted from a 1982 U.S. initiative. The U.S. has always played the leading role in strengthening the MTCR and in making sure U.S. technology is not used in proliferant missile programs. The Regime's 29 members -- including the 15 European Union countries, Russia, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa -- control the export of a comprehensive list of missile-related equipment and technology -- the MTCR Annex -- according to common Guidelines. Several other countries, including Israel, South Korea and Ukraine, abide by the MTCR Guidelines unilaterally.
- Fewer Missiles. The U.S. also has been the driving force behind the INF and START Treaties, which: eliminated ground-based missiles of 500-5500 km range from the U.S. and the former USSR; eliminated longer-range missiles from Belarus and Kazakhstan and are eliminating them from Ukraine; and have been reducing drastically U.S. and Russian inventories of strategic missiles.
- Dealing with remaining suppliers. North Korea is the only country selling complete missile systems -- based on 1940s/1950s-vintage Soviet Scud technology -- to rogue states. The U.S. has had a near-total trade embargo on the DPRK for over 45 years; works to stop individual shipments of North Korean missile technology; and has imposed sanctions on Iranian (1992 and 1996), Pakistani (April 1998), and Syrian (1992) entities buying that technology. We have also made missile nonproliferation a prerequisite for normalizing bilateral relations with the DPRK, and have held two rounds of talks (April 1996 and June 1997) with the DPRK on missile issues.
- China has not sold complete ballistic missiles since and October 1994 agreement to that effect with the U.S., but Chinese companies continue to sell technology to missile programs in Iran and Pakistan. The U.S. has pressed Beijing at the highest levels to tighten up its export controls; in addition, we work to stop individual shipments of missile technology and twice (June 1991 and August 1993) imposed trade sanctions on Chinese and Pakistani entities trading in missile technology.
- Russia has not sold ballistic missiles since the breakup of the USSR. After we sanctioned a Russian firm in 1992 for selling technology, Russia committed in a 1993 agreement with the U.S. to abide by the MTCR Guidelines. Russia joined the MTCR in 1995. The reduced central control and increased economic dislocation created by the USSR's breakup has made it easier for countries like Iran to evade Russian export controls and obtain missile technology. Pressing Russia to improve its controls and assisting it in doing so -- for example, through the Nunn-Lugar program -- have been a top U.S. priority over the past 18 months. Russia has enacted new regulations, stopped some deals, and arrested some technology smugglers. But enforcement problems continue, as do our efforts to resolve the issue.
- Bottom Line. The U.S. has been working hard against missile proliferation for over 15 years, and our efforts have concretely and significantly reduced the potential ballistic missile threats to U.S. territory, forces, interests and allies. Challenges remain in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia where deep-rooted antagonisms and authoritarian regimes limit opportunities to eliminate missile threats. But even here our efforts have slowed missile programs and made them more costly -- and less effective -- than would otherwise have been the case.