July 15, 1998


WASHINGTON, D. C. --- U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a long-time advocate of a ballistic missile defense system and the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a report issued today confirms that the U. S. Intelligence Community is ill-prepared to provide the United States with a timely warning of missile threats. The report, entitled the Rumsfeld Commission Report, was named for Commission Chairman and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It concluded that the emerging missile threat is greater and can develop much more rapidly than previously estimated by the U. S. Intelligence Community.

Sen. Shelby said, "The Rumsfeld report confirms that the U. S. Intelligence Community, under the direction of the Clinton Administration, is ill-prepared to provide timely warning to the people of this nation before some type of missile attack occurs. Released on the heels of the intelligence community's recent failure to predict India's nuclear tests, this disturbing report underscores not only the need for change in the way the United States collects and analyzes information, but also a significant change in our nation's policy toward the full deployment of a national missile defense system.
Despite the need that I believe has existed for many years, this Administration has chosen to bury its head in the sand while refusing to acknowledge missile threats against the American people, and our nation's inability to defend against such an attack. Truly, the need for ballistic missile defense system has never been more important----whether we are talking about U. S. troops stationed around the globe, or the protection of Americans at home.
Sec. Rumsfeld and his colleagues on the Commission have joined many of my colleagues and me in concluding that this threat is real and is growing more ominous each day. I commend Sec. Rumsfeld for his leadership in producing this important report, and I strongly urge Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and this Administration to heed the warnings issued today. We must work to address this serious problem before it is too late.
As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I will ensure that the Commission's report is carefully scrutinized and that appropriate actions are recommended. We simply cannot afford another intelligence surprise or failure---especially in an area that threatens the lives of millions of Americans."

The Rumsfeld Commission was established pursuant to Public Law 104-201 to assess the ballistic missile threat to the United States. The group's findings and recommendations were unanimously approved by the bipartisan commission. Among other things, the report concluded that:

* concerted efforts by a number of overtly or potentially hostile nations to acquire ballistic missiles with biological or nuclear payloads pose a growing threat to the United States, its deployed forces, its friends and allies. These newer, developing threats in North Korea, Iran and Iraq are in addition to those still posed by the existing ballistic missile arsenals of Russia and China, nations with which we are not now in conflict but which remain in uncertain transitions. The newer ballistic missile-equipped nations' capabilities will not match those of U. S. systems for accuracy or reliability. However, they would be able to inflict major destruction on the U. S. within about five years of a decision to acquire such a capability (10 years in the case of Iraq). During several of those years, the U. S. might not be aware that such a decision had been made.

* the threat to the U. S. posed by these emerging capabilities is broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in Intelligence Community estimates and reports.

* The Intelligence Community's ability to provide timely and accurate estimates of ballistic missile threats to the U. S. is eroding. This erosion has roots both within and beyond the intelligence process itself. The Community's capabilities in this area need to be strengthened in terms of both resources and methodology.

* the U. S. can expect less time to prepare for a new threatening ballistic missile deployment. Under some plausible scenarios -- including re-basing, or the transfer of operational missiles, sea-and air-launch options, shortened development programs that might include testing in a third country, or some combination of these -- the U. S. might well have little or no warning before operational deployment.

* U. S. analyses, practices and policies that depend on expectations of extended warning of deployment be reviewed and, as appropriate, revised to reflect the reality of an environment in which there may be little or no warning.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Shelby, has also received and is presently reviewing a comprehensive, classified report prepared by the Rumsfeld Commission.