American Forces Press Service

DIA, CIA Chiefs: Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat Grows


 By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON -- Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, 
 including the means to launch them, constitute the greatest 
 single threat to vital U.S. national interests, the directors of 
 the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency said Feb. 9.
 CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services 
 Committee the "emblematic" issue today is the proliferation of 
 weapons of mass destruction. In 1998, India and Pakistan both 
 exploded nuclear devices. The United States has continuing 
 concern over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, and 
 intelligence officials are worried about Russian weapons of mass 
 destruction security, Tenet said.
 DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes said the international 
 security environment remains "volatile, complex and very 
 difficult." He said he expects global turmoil to continue 
 through the next decade and possibly worsen because its 
 underlying causes -- political, economic, social, technological 
 and demographic issues -- will remain in place.
 Tenet said the U.S. intelligence agencies are looking at these 
 and many other threats, but "there is a continued and growing 
 risk of surprise."
 The United States is concerned about continuing weapon 
 proliferation problems in the former Soviet Union. While Russia 
 has new controls on missile technology exports, it hasn't 
 followed through on enforcing them, Tenet said, noting Russia 
 has been exporting technology to Iran.
 "This assistance is continuing as we speak," he said. "And there 
 is no doubt that [this assistance] will play a crucial role in 
 Iran's ability to develop more sophisticated and longer-range 
 Russia's continuing societal and economic woes threaten to 
 worsen making the situation more threatening, he said.
 Hughes said he, too, was concerned that countries like Iran and 
 North Korea will develop weapons of mass destruction and the 
 means to launch them. He said the threat would first be felt 
 regionally. "This more diverse and complex strategic nuclear 
 threat affects post-Cold War thinking about nuclear deterrence, 
 strike-and-response policy, force posture and strategic 
 targeting," he said.
 Tenet said China's situation "is a mixed picture." It has 
 tightened exports of sensitive technology, but neither he nor 
 Hughes could assure Congress those controls have been effective. 
 "In short,  our guard remains up on this question," Tenet said. 
 As North Korea's economy deteriorates, the impetus increases for 
 it to sell its know-how in weapons of mass destruction. "North 
 Korea's sales of such products over the years have dramatically 
 heightened the [weapons of mass destruction] threat in countries 
 of key concern, such as Iran and Pakistan," Tenet said. 
 The North Koreans have been instrumental in helping Iran and 
 Pakistan leap-frog technologies to develop their own missiles. 
 Through North Korea's help, he said, India, Iran and Pakistan 
 also have become technology exporters.
 Tenet said the United States is concerned North Korea may be 
 developing a covert program to produce plutonium -- a key 
 ingredient in nuclear weapons. "The key target for us to watch 
 is the underground construction project at Kumchangni, which is 
 large enough to house a plutonium production facility and 
 perhaps a reprocessing plant as well," Tenet said. "The [North 
 Korean] missile story is no more encouraging."
 North Korea's launch of the Taepo Dong I in August showed it 
 could deliver a very small payload over intercontinental ranges, 
 Tenet said. He said they're working on the Taepo Dong II, a two-
 stage design believed to have the range to reach the United