SEC. 1031. REPORT ON THE PEACEFUL EMPLOYMENT OF FORMER SOVIET EXPERTS ON WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION.
(a) Report Required: Not later than January 31, 1999, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the need for and the feasibility of programs, other than those involving the development or promotion of commercially viable proposals, to further United States nonproliferation objectives regarding former Soviet experts in ballistic missiles or weapons of mass destruction. The report shall contain an analysis of the following:
(1) The number of such former Soviet experts who are, or are likely to become within the coming decade, unemployed, underemployed, or unpaid and, therefore, at risk of accepting export orders, contracts, or job offers from countries developing weapons of mass destruction.
(2) The extent to which the development of nonthreatening, commercially viable products and services, with or without United States assistance, can reasonably be expected to employ such former experts.
(3) The extent to which projects that do not involve the development of commercially viable products or services could usefully employ additional such former experts.
(4) The likely cost and benefits of a 10-year program of United States or international assistance to projects of the sort discussed in paragraph (3).
(b) Consultation Requirement: The report shall be prepared in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Energy, and such other officials as the Secretary of Defense considers appropriate.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I want to thank the managers of this bill, the senior Senators from South Carolina and Michigan, for their willingness to work with me on non-proliferation issues and to accept two amendments that I proposed in this regard. There is a critical need to guard against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or related technology from the former Soviet Union, and I am very pleased that my colleagues share that concern.
There is no more critical national security issue than how well we handle the threat of holocaust posed by weapons of mass destruction. The potential for such horrific destruction may well have been increased by the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of superpower control over other countries. And a failure to contain the risk of such holocausts would dwarf any other foreign policy successes or failures.
War between the United States and Russia is no longer a realistic threat, despite the size of our nuclear arsenals. The use of weapons of mass destruction by other countries, or even by terrorist groups, is a real threat, however, and there is a real risk that former Soviet materials or technology will be the engine of proliferation to other countries or groups.
No great power is as active as the United States in trying to prevent proliferation. Nobody has as many programs as we do to detect proliferation activities, to stop them, to pressure illegal buyers and sellers, to develop military weapons and tactics for operations against sites with weapons of mass destruction, and to assist the former Soviet states, in particular, in safeguarding and destroying dangerous material and in reorienting their military industry to the civilian economy.
But the fact is, Mr. President, that we are failing to do all that we can to stop proliferation. In particular, we are failing to reach most of the highly-trained scientists and technicians who developed weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles for the former Soviet Union. Well over a hundred thousand such skilled personnel served the Soviet death machine at its peak. Anywhere from ten to fifty thousand personnel still have skills that a rogue state or terrorist group would like to obtain, and are underpaid or unemployed today.
How can we remedy these failings? One way is to support and fully fund our existing programs of non-proliferation assistance to the former Soviet Union. I am pleased to say that the managers of this bill agree with that judgment. Thus, they have accepted a Bingaman amendment that I co-sponsored, to restore the few cuts in these programs that had been adopted in committee mark-up.
The managers of this bill have also accepted an amendment that I sponsored, to make available an additional $15 million for the Energy Department's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program and $30 million for the new `nuclear cities' initiative endorsed at the last meeting of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission three months ago. This amendment parallels one to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that Senator Domenici and I sponsored last week. I am confident that it will result in these two important programs being able to move forward effectively, rather than being a threat to each other's existence.
As I noted on the floor last week, Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (or IPP) is a program that creates employment opportunities for former Soviet arms specialists by helping them develop their ideas for commercially viable goods and services. As an idea reaches fruition, IPP brings the arms specialists into joint ventures with outside investors, who gradually take over the funding. For example, thanks to IPP, a U.S. firm is working with Ukrainian scientists to develop and market a device for decontaminating liquids. This device will enable the Ukrainian dairy industry to produce fresh milk despite the lingering effects of the Chernobyl reactor meltdown.
IPP had a slow start. It's hard to come up with really viable commercial ventures, to find investors, and to make sure they can invest safely. But IPP has begun to take off. As of this April 15, projects had achieved completely commercial funding and 77 had found major private co-funding. We all have chosen wisely today, to maintain IPP's funding stream and to encourage the many weapons specialists in the former Soviet Union who are searching for new careers in the civilian economy.
The `nuclear cities' initiative is a more specialized effort to improve employment opportunities for Russian personnel from their nuclear weapons labs and manufacturing facilities. This initiative, too, will focus on finding commercially viable projects and bringing in outside investors. The challenge is to find projects that can work at these somewhat isolated cities, which are more or less the Russian equivalent of Los Alamos.
When the United States funds the `nuclear cities' initiative, it gets two benefits. First, Russia's Minister of Atomic Energy has announced that he will downsize their nuclear weapons establishment. And second, by providing civilian job opportunities for some of the personnel who are let go, we will help protect against Russian weapons specialists accepting offers from states like Iran, Iraq, or Libya.
One problem in any program that depends upon developing commercially viable products and services is that foreign investors are wary of putting their funds in ventures that may fail because of confiscatory taxes, local corruption or the difficulty of enforcing contracts. As a result, many otherwise marketable ideas may go without the funding they need to get off the ground and become engines of employment.
The senior Senator from Indiana and I sent a letter to the Vice President recently to suggest that a high-level commission or advisory committee be formed, with senior U.S. industrialists among its members, to survey investment opportunities in the `nuclear cities' and similar areas. This commission would also work with Russian officials on improving the climate for international investment, so that an enlarging civilian economy in Russia can provide new careers for more former arms experts. Fifty years ago, a commission to set up the Marshall Plan--led by an industrialist, the CEO of Studebaker--was able to convince Western Europe to take bold steps in economic coordination. In a similar manner, perhaps practical help from U.S. industrialists today can galvanize Russian officials to take the steps that are needed for international investment to jump-start their economic engines.
Even with such a commission, however, even if we maintain the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, and even if we add the `nuclear cities' initiative, there is no way that commercially viable ventures can employ all the tens of thousands of Russian personnel who have worked on weapons of mass destruction. At some point, Mr. President, we have to ask whether it is not in our national security interest to provide broader assistance.
That is why I proposed the other amendment that the managers of this bill have accepted, to require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on this issue. Specifically, that report will tell us: (1) how many former Soviet personnel are at risk of being candidates for recruitment by rogue states; (2) how many can be employed in commercially viable enterprises; (3) how many additional personnel could be employed if we were to subsidize socially useful employment that could not attract outside investment; and (4) what the costs and benefits would be of a 10-year program of such subsidized employment.
I am confident that the Department of Defense will find a significant gap between the number of Russian arms experts who are at risk and the number who can be reached by programs that focus upon commercially viable ventures. We have much less information, however, regarding either the potential or the costs of a program that would provide broader assistance. The Department of Defense report required by this amendment, which would be prepared in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Energy, will thus make a significant contribution to the ability of Congress to make sensible policy decisions in this field.
The task of assisting the transition of the former Soviet Union from totalitarianism to democracy, from a command economy to a market economy, and from militarism to more peaceful pursuits is indeed daunting. We need many programs, for no single effort will achieve all of this. There will be disappointments along with successes. But the stakes are so high that we dare not flinch from the challenge to assist that transition.
Likewise, we dare not cease our efforts to ensure that former Soviet arms experts refrain from selling their expertise to those who would misuse it. Today's actions are not the end of this demand upon our attention and our resources. But we can take heart from the fact that they are measured steps in the right direction. With luck, we will come up with the needed programs and resources in time to prevent weapons of mass destruction from becoming a larger factor in the next century than they have been in our own.