AMERICAN MISSILE PROTECTION ACT (Senate - May 12, 1998)

[Page: S4640]

Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, let me say, first of all, that I appreciate very much the majority leader calling up the missile defense bill on yesterday. At his authorization and direction, a cloture motion was filed on the motion to proceed to consider that bill when an objection was raised by the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee and the ranking Democrat, Senator Levin, on the International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services Subcommittee that I chair.

Last year, we had a series of hearings looking into the growing proliferation problem in the development of weapons of mass destruction and missile systems to deliver those weapons by countries that many in our Nation probably weren't aware were developing the sophistication in long-range missile systems that were being developed.

I think yesterday the announcement in India of the detonation of a nuclear device as a test confirms once again what a dangerous environment we are in, in terms of proliferation of capabilities, of having nuclear weapons, of having missile systems that can deliver those weapons over a long range. To put that in context yesterday, Pakistan, just a few weeks ago, tested a new missile that our security analysts and our intelligence agencies weren't aware that they had--another example of how we cannot predict with any degree of certainty or accuracy how soon countries are going to develop missile systems, nuclear weapons with the capability of delivering those weapons systems over long ranges. The Pakistani missile that was tested was a 1,500-kilometer range missile--five times greater in capability than a report that was filed by the Defense Department said that Pakistan had in November of 1997. Think about that.

We get an annual report from the Defense Department using the intelligence capabilities of our CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency--all of the resources that our country has, to put together this report for the Congress. And in November of 1997 they said that Pakistan had in its inventory a 300-kilometer range missile, and then in April they test a 1,500-kilometer range missile. What has happened? They have had assistance from other countries. Some say it was China who provided the technology and wherewithal to come up with this new, longer range missile. Some say it was North Korea. Pakistan says it was developed from within with their own technology, their own scientists.

Whatever the reason and however this came to be, it is alarming, and now we see India reacting to that new development by testing a nuclear weapon that is twice as powerful as the atomic bomb that was used in World War II by the United States against Japan.

The point is, this is a very, very dangerous situation that we see developing in that part of the world, but in other countries, too. In Iran. We have seen demonstrated in Iraq the capacity to almost put a satellite in orbit with a missile launch vehicle 10 years ago. That surprised the United States. That surprised our intelligence-gathering agencies.

I am hopeful that the Senate will notice that the time has come for us to stop playing politics with missile defense and national security and work together in a bipartisan way to develop and deploy, as soon as technology permits, a national missile defense system to protect the security of the United States.

We will have that vote on cloture, as the majority leader pointed out, on Wednesday--cloture on the motion to proceed to consider the bill, not on the bill itself. It will still be open for amendment. It will still be open for debate by Senators who want to discuss this issue, but I hope the Senate will invoke cloture so that we can proceed to consider the bill, to discuss the issue further, particularly in view of these developing events that confirm what a dangerous proliferation situation we find ourselves in in the world today, and we are defenseless against long-range or intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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