[Presidential Decision Directives - PDD]

Counterproliferation Initiative
Presidential Decision Directive PDD/NSC 18
December 1993

In December 1993, pursuant to Presidential Directive, Secretary of Defense Aspin launched the Department's Counterproliferation Initiative. No White House factsheet was released concerning this policy initiative. However, outlining a new US approach to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction on Pearl Harbor Day [07 December] 1993, Defense Secretary Aspin said the post-Cold War threat of nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile systems posed by irresponsible states or terrorist groups necessitates a five-point counter-proliferation drive. Aspin told the National Academy of Science that the five points are:

Following is the text of Aspin's remarks [minus a chart not reproduced here]:

(begin text)

Thanks you very much, Dr. Alberts, and thank all of you for coming this morning. I'm particularly pleased to be able to talk about this important topic before this audience because I know many of you have thought about this. It's something that's going to take all our best efforts.

The national security requirements of the United States have undergone fundamental change in just a few short years. We won the Cold War. The Soviet threat that dominated our strategy, doctrine, weapons acquisition and force structure for so long is gone. With it has gone the threat of global war. But history did not end with that victory, and neither did threats to the United States, its people and its interests.

As part of the Bottom Up Review we began to think seriously about what threats we really faced in this new era. We came up with four chief threats to the United States. First, a new danger posed by the increased threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Second, regional dangers posed by the threat of aggression by powers such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Third, the danger that democratic and market reforms will fail in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. And finally, we recognize an economic danger to our national security. In the short run our security is protected by a strong military, but in the long run it will be protected by a strong economy.

Of these dangers, the one that most urgently and directly threatens America at home and American interests abroad is the new nuclear danger. The old nuclear danger we faced was thousands of warheads in the Soviet Union. The new nuclear danger we face is perhaps a handful of nuclear devices in the hands of rogue states or even terrorist groups. The engine of this new danger is proliferation.

Let us recall briefly how we dealt with the old nuclear danger -- the nuclear danger of the Cold War era. We had three approaches -- deterrence, arms control and a nonproliferation policy based on prevention. They worked.

Our policy of deterrence was aimed primarily at the Soviet Union. Our aim was to guarantee by the structure and disposition of our own nuclear forces that a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies would bring no profit, and thus deter it.

We sought to stabilize these arsenals through arms control and eventually to shrink them through arms reduction. Our nonproliferation policy was aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons by persuading most nations not to go nuclear, and denying the materials and know-how to make bombs to those who pursued them. And in fact, these weapons did not spread as quickly as many suggested.

But that was then and this is now. And now we face the potential of a greatly increased proliferation problem. This increase is the product of two new developments. The first arises from the break-up of the former Soviet Union. The second concerns the nature of technology diffusion in this new era. Each of these developments profoundly changes the nature of the proliferation problem.

Let's look at the former Soviet Union. The continued existence of the former Soviet Union's arsenal amidst revolutionary change gives rise to four potential proliferation problems.

First, and most obvious, is that nuclear weapons are now deployed on the territory of four states. Before, there was one. The safe and secure transport and dismantlement of these weapons is one of the U.S. government's highest priorities.

Second, we have the potential for what I call "loose nukes." In a time of profound transition in the former Soviet Union, it is possible that nuclear weapons, or the material or technology to make them could find their way to a nuclear black market.

Third, nuclear and other weapons expertise for hire could go to would-be proliferators.

Fourth, whatever restraint the former Soviet Union exercised over its client states with nuclear ambitions, such as North Korea, is much diminished. Regional power balances have been disrupted and old ethnic conflicts have re-emerged.

The other new development that exacerbates today's proliferation problem is a by-product of growth in world trade and the rising tide of technology everywhere.

The world economy today is characterized by an ever increasing volume of trade leading to ever greater diffusion of technology. Simply put, this will make it harder and harder to detect illicit diversions of materials and technology useful for weapons development.

Moreover, many potential aggressors no longer have to import all the sophisticated technology they need. They are "growing" it at home. The growth of indigenous technology can completely change the nonproliferation equation.

Potential proliferators are sometimes said to be "several decades behind the West." This is not much comfort. If a would-be nuclear nation is four decades behind in 1993 then it is at the same technological level as the United States was in 1953. By 1953, the United States had fission weapons. We were building intercontinental range bombers and were developing intercontinental missiles.

Realize, too, that most of the thermonuclear weapons in the United States arsenal today were designed in the 1960s using computers that were then known as "super computers." These same "super computers" are no more powerful than today's laptop personal computers that you can pick up at the store or order through the catalog.

These new developments tell us a couple of very important things. The first, of course, is that we face a bigger proliferation danger than we've ever faced before. But second, and most important, is that a policy of prevention through denial won't be enough to cope with the potential of tomorrow's proliferators.

In concrete terms, here is where we stand today. More than a score of countries -- many of them hostile to the United States, our friends and our allies -- have now or are developing nuclear, biological and/or chemical weapons -- and the means to deliver them. More than 12 countries have operational ballistic missiles and others have programs to develop them.

Weapons of mass destruction may directly threaten our forces in the field, and in a more subtle way threaten the effective use of those forces. In some ways, in fact, the role of nuclear weapons in the U.S. scheme of things has completely changed.

During the Cold War, our principal adversary had conventional forces in Europe that were numerically superior. For us, nuclear weapons were the equalizer. The threat to use them was present and was used to compensate for our smaller numbers of conventional forces. Today, nuclear weapons can still be the equalizer against superior conventional forces. But today it is the United States that has unmatched conventional military power, and it is our potential adversaries who may attain nuclear weapons. We're the ones who could wind up being the equalizee.

And it's not just nuclear weapons. All the potential threat nations are at least capable of producing biological and chemical agents. They might not have usable weapons yet, and they might not use them if they do. But our commanders will have to assume that U.S. forces are threatened.

So the threat is real and it is upon us today. President Clinton directed the world's attention to it in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September. He said, "One of our most urgent priorities must be attacking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whether they are nuclear, chemical, or biological; and the ballistic missiles that can rain them down on populations hundreds of miles away.... If we do not stem the proliferation of the world's deadliest weapons, no democracy can feel secure."

To respond to the president, we have created the Defense Counterproliferation Initiative. With this initiative, we are making the essential change demanded by this increased threat. We are adding the task of protection to the task of prevention.

In past administrations, the emphasis was on prevention. The policy of nonproliferation combined global diplomacy and regional security efforts with the denial of material and know-how to would-be proliferators. Prevention remains our preeminent goal. In North Korea, for example, our goals are still a non-nuclear peninsula and a strong nonproliferation regime.

The Defense Counterproliferation Initiative in no way means we will lessen our nonproliferation efforts. In fact, DOD's work will strengthen prevention. What the Defense Counterproliferation Initiative recognizes, however, is that proliferation may still occur. Thus, we are adding protection as a major policy goal.

The chart shows how the two -- prevention and protection -- combine to make a complete attack on the problem. We have the policy instruments for prevention and the steps we take to protect if proliferation occurs. What's new is the emphasis that the Defense Department has a special responsibility.

At the heart of the Defense Counterproliferation Initiative, therefore, is a drive to develop new military capabilities to deal with this new threat. It has five elements: One, creation of the new mission by the president; two, changing what we buy to meet the threat; three, planning to fight wars differently; four, changing how we collect intelligence and what intelligence we collect; and finally, five, doing all these things with our allies.

Let's look at each in turn. First point; new mission. President Clinton not only recognized the danger of the new threat, he gave us this new mission to cope with it. We have issued defense planning guidance to the services to make sure everyone understands what the president wants. I have organized my own staff to reflect the importance of the new mission with the new position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Security and Counterproliferation.

Second point; what we buy. We are reviewing all relevant programs to see what we can do better. For example, we're looking at improved non-nuclear penetrating munitions to deal with underground installations. Saddam Hussein, you'll recall, was building a lot of underground refuges because normal structures were totally vulnerable to our precision air strikes. We cannot let future Saddams escape attack. We're also working hard on better ways to hunt mobile missiles after our difficulties in finding Scuds during the Gulf War. And of course, we have reoriented the Strategic Defense Initiative into the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization so that it concentrates on responding to theater ballistic missile threats that are here today.

We've also proposed a clarification in the ABM treaty. It would allow us to develop and test a theater missile defense system to meet a real threat without undermining an important agreement. This is an essential element of our counterproliferation strategy.

Third point; how we fight wars. We are developing guidance for dealing with this new threat. We have directed the services to tell us how prepared they are for it. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our regional commanders in chief -- our CINCs -- are developing a military planning process for dealing with adversaries who have weapons of mass destruction.

And our concerns are by no means limited to the nuclear threat. We have a new Joint Office to oversee all DOD biological defense programs. This is the first time the department has organized its collective expertise to deal with the tough biological defense problems we face.

Fourth point; intelligence. After the war with Iraq, we discovered that Saddam Hussein had a much more extensive nuclear weapons program going than we knew. Moreover, we learned during the war that we had failed to destroy his biological and chemical warfare efforts. We do not want to be caught like that again, so we are working to improve our counterproliferation intelligence.

As a first step, we are pursuing an arrangement with the director of central intelligence to establish a new deputy director for military support in the Intelligence Community's Nonproliferation Center. And we're tripling the number of Defense Department experts assigned to the center. We're looking for intelligence that is useful militarily, not only diplomatically.

Fifth point; international cooperation. Our allies and security partners around the world have as much to be concerned about as we do. We have tabled an initiative with NATO to increase alliance efforts against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

We are also cooperating actively with the Japanese on deployment of theater missile defense systems there, and possibly on developing such systems together.

We are paying special attention to the dangerous potential problem of weapons and nuclear material proliferating from the Soviet Union. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, we are helping Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan with the safe and secure dismantling of their nuclear weapons. And we're helping them improve the security of fissile material in both weapons and civilian nuclear facilities by helping them set up material control and accounting systems.

We are even including Russia in our attempt to reshape export controls on sensitive technology. The control system used to be aimed at the Eastern Bloc. Now we are incorporating former Eastern Bloc countries in our efforts to impede would-be proliferators. The Defense Department can play a constructive role in balancing economics and security here. In this effort, we have been guided by the excellent work conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.

To sum up, we've undertaken a new mission. For many years we planned to counter the weapons of mass destruction of the former Soviet Union. Now, we've recognized a new problem and we're acting to meet it with counterproliferation. At the same time, our initiative complements nonproliferation in three important ways. It promotes consensus on the gravity of the threat, helping to maintain the international nonproliferation effort. It reduces the military utility of weapons of mass destruction, while nonproliferation keeps up the price, making them less attractive to the proliferator. And it reduces the vulnerability of the neighbors of those holding these weapons, further reducing the motive to acquire them in self-defense.

We are in a new era. We have released our Bottom Up Review that provided a blueprint for our conventional forces for the years ahead. Our Defense Counterproliferation Initiative will allow us to deal with the number one threat identified in the BUR, and it will help provide the real strength America needs to meet the dangers we face. The public expects nothing less from its Department of Defense than the right responses to the new world.

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