1997 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


Statement of

Senator Dick Lugar
U.S. Senator for Indiana

Thank you Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to appear before your subcommittee on this most critical issue.

Recent statements by former Russian National Security Advisor General Alexander Lebed on "60 Minutes" regarding the lack of accountability for a number of suitcase "atomic demolition munitions" points to the dangers of loose nuclear weapons and materials that were set in train with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This is not a new phenomenon but a rather old one that we have been seeking to address through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

At this time, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for all of your efforts to ensure that this vital national security program continues in order to reduce the WMD threats to the American people. I would be remiss if I did not also publicly thank several of your colleagues for their valuable work in this area: Congressman Dellums, Congressman Spratt, and Congressman Thornberry, among others.

But Mr. Chairman, if the dangers about which General Lebed warns are not new, the circumstances in which those warnings were uttered is new -- rampant and increasingly organized crime in Russia, and a disaffected Russian military, reeling from lack of pay and loss of pride, seeking a mission and moonlighting to make ends meet. Whether the General's comments reflect smoke or fire, when so influential an individual as General Lebed focuses on the issue of "loose nukes", it raises questions about the security and safety of the Russian nuclear custodial system and whether disaffected elements in Russia will take such comments as an incitement to exploit the system or as a warning to fix it!

As a consequence of the collapse of the Soviet totalitarian command and control society, a vast potential supermarket of weapons and materials of mass destruction has become increasingly accessible. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and the subsequent decay of the custodial system guarding the Soviet nuclear, chemical, and biological legacy has eliminated this proliferation chokepoint. States and even religious sects, organized crime, and terrorist organizations can now buy or steal what they previously had to produce on their own.

The prevailing view that there is, today, no direct threat to U.S. national security is dead wrong. If General Lebed and others are correct, the danger is here and now. Indeed, the defining danger of nuclear proliferation is not Iran's purchase of civilian nuclear reactors that may assist Iranian nuclear ambitions a decade hence. It is the threat, today or tomorrow, that Iran, Libya, or Hamas will purchase nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or materials from some fragment of the current or former Russian military. Like General Lebed, I have long pointed to the fact that a ballistic or cruise missile is not the likely delivery vehicle a terrorist or rogue nation would use in employing such weapons. Rather, a suitcase or a Ryder truck, already proven forms of delivery, is much more likely.

Mr. Chairman, it is only common sense to attempt to deal with the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction at as great a distance from our borders as possible.

The Nunn-Lugar program at the Department of Defense, along with its companion programs at the Department of Energy - namely, the Materials Protection Control and Accounting Program (MPC&A) - are the tools the United States is employing to reduce this threat to the American people at the source, the former Soviet Union.

The Nunn-Lugar program's impact on the threat posed by former Soviet weapons of mass destruction can be measured in the 129 ICBMs destroyed, 165 ICBM silos eliminated, 20 bombers destroyed, 80 SLBM launchers eliminated, 99 nuclear test tunnels sealed, and the 4,700 warheads taken off strategic systems aimed at us -- let me repeat that, 4,700 former Soviet warheads which were pointed at the United States have been removed with the assistance of the Nunn-Lugar program -- all at a cost of less than one-third of one percent of the Department of Defense's annual budget. Without our Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Ukraine, Kazakstan and Belarus would still have thousands of nuclear weapons. Instead, all three countries are nuclear-weapons-free.

The posters I have brought with me this morning provide a graphic demonstration of these accomplishments.

More specifically Mr. Chairman, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program is attempting to address the very shortcomings General Lebed encountered when he undertook his inventory of the suitcase nuclear devices. The Russian inventory system is so antiquated and inefficient that the Russians do not have an accurate accounting of nuclear weapons or materials. Part of the Nunn-Lugar program will furnish the Russian military with an Automated Inventory Control and Management System for their nuclear weapons and materials. This on-going project will automate the existing Russian system, which currently depends on manual accountability. The project will establish 10 regional tracking stations and up to 100 field sites. The Russian inventory system was largely handwritten and decentralized. According to Princeton physicist Frank von Hippel: "until recently, the only basis for an inventory of the quantity of weapons-usable fissile material at the (Kurchatov) institute was boxes of old paper receipts in a dusty room."

It goes without saying that Russian confidence in the numbers and whereabouts of their nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is of extreme importance to the national security interests of the United States.

Mr. Chairman, most Members can appreciate the direct benefits to our security from assisting in the elimination of strategic weapons systems targeted on the United States. Perhaps more difficult to comprehend is the threat posed by the potential leakage of tactical nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials.

The Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Program seeks to secure hundreds of tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the Former Soviet Union and elsewhere which are inadequately stored and are at risk of falling into the hands of criminal elements, terrorist organizations and rogue states. In short, this programs works to prevent the theft or diversion of weapons-usable materials - plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

The Department of Energy, in cooperation with Russia and the Newly Independent states, has put in place equipment at 18 sites to safeguard plutonium and weapons-usable uranium, and agreements are in place to enhance safety and security at over 30 additional sites, including research laboratories and storage sites. In short, after a slow start in the early 1990s, MPC&A improvements are now underway at over 50 sites in Russia, the newly Independent States, and the Baltic States.

But while the Energy Department, through this program, has enhanced the security surrounding hundreds of tons of nuclear-weapons material, much still remains poorly secured.

Mr. Chairman, in my opinion, the Nunn-Lugar and MPC&A Programs are two of the most critical programs the U.S. government conducts for ensuring the strategic national security of this country. They rank along side the equally critical Stockpile Stewardship Program for maintaining the credibility and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Even with the successes the Nunn-Lugar program has enjoyed, Americans are still threatened by weapons of mass destruction. I held a series of hearings over the past two years dealing with the threats posed by the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. The results of those hearings may be summarized in three basic propositions:

1. Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials, and know-how are now more available to terrorists and rogue nations than at any other time in our history;

2. Several nations and subnational groups are actively seeking a nuclear, chemical, and biological capability for potential use against the United States or its allies; and

3. Domestically, we here in the United States are not equipped to manage the crisis posed by the threatened use of such weapons or to manage the consequences of their use against civilian populations.

Let me repeat that: We here in the United States are not equipped to manage the crisis posed by the threatened use of such weapons or to manage the consequences of their use against civilian populations.

This threat is real and we must be prepared. That preparation must take the form of help to local "first responders" -- the firemen, police, emergency management teams, and medical personnel who will be on the front lines if deterrence and prevention of such incidents fail. Mr. Chairman, I know this is an issue in which you have a very strong interest. Your leadership in this area has been farsighted, constant, and effective.

Much of the expertise in defending against and acting in response to nuclear, chemical and biological threats and incidents resides in the Department of Defense, which has worked to protect our armed forces against these attacks.

That is why the 1996 Nunn-Lugar-Domenici "Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction" legislation directed the professionals from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency to join into a partnership with local emergency professionals in cities across the country. These enhanced domestic preparedness efforts must be coupled with our international programs to create a "defense in depth" against such threats beyond our borders.

Mr. Chairman, what must be emphasized is the complementary nature of the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici domestic preparedness programs and the original Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs -- that is, the organic relationship between domestic preparedness programs to cope with potential terrorist actions at home, and the original Nunn-Lugar programs designed in part to prevent and deter terrorist acts abroad by dealing with the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction at the source. This is an international problem that defies an exclusively domestic response. One makes no sense without the other. Together, they make a major contribution to our national security.

Mr. Chairman, to oversimplify, there are three main lines of defense against these emerging WMD threats. Individually, each is insufficient; together, they help to form the policy fabric of an integrated defense-in-depth.

The first is prevention and this entails activities at the source. The second is deterrence and interdiction and involves efforts to stem the flow of illicit trade in these weapons and materials. The third line of defense is crisis and consequence management and involves greater efforts at domestic preparedness. The United States needs to do more in all of these areas.

The real question, Mr. Chairman, is whether there exists sufficient political will, particularly in the Congress, to devote the requisite resources not only to domestic preparedness but to the first two lines of defense -- namely, to prevention and deterrence against these threats. As we have explored the weapons material leakage and "loose nuke" problem, one point has become increasingly clear. If the United States is to have any chance of stopping the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction on our soil, prevention must start at the source -- the weapons and material depots and research institutes in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.

Mr. Chairman, we cannot realistically hope to cope with the threats of weapons of mass destruction at home without a further "bounding" of the threat abroad. Only by shoring up the first two lines of defense abroad -- that is, prevention and deterrence -- can we hope to successfully prepare for the threat at home and employ effectively our domestic preparedness programs in our third line of defense. This is what an integrated "defense in depth" against this threat is all about.

If we are not willing to devote the requisite resources, the time, and the international leadership necessary to controlling, regulating, and otherwise circumscribing this threat -- in the command and control centers of the Russian military, at dismantlement, disassembly and storage sites in the states of the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, at the borders between current possessors and eager purchasers of such weapons and materials -- then the task of defense at home is made both more unmanageable and probably ultimately impossible.

Mr. Chairman, we have the tools and expertise to tackle these threats. What we need now is for Congress to supply the will and the resources!

In my view, absent Congressional support of a U.S. response to this threat as focused, serious, and vigorous as America's Cold War strategy, Americans may have every reason to anticipate acts of nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism against American targets before another decade is out. Thank you.