2002 September 16 Monday
George Tenet on secondary proliferators

Where does the doctrine of preemption come from? The world faces two choices:
• Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to many regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere.
• Preemptive military action to stop their spread.

There is no third choice. No international treaty or UN resolution will do anything to slow down the trend. The countries that want to develop WMD do not think international law or UN resolutions matter much. Technology export controls by First World countries will be to little avail because secondary proliferators are feeding the spread of weapons technologies.

CIA Director George Tenet, speaking on 3 February 2000 before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, had a lot to say about missile and nuclear technology proliferation from emerging secondary suppliers:


Mr. Chairman, another sign that WMD programs are maturing is the emergence of secondary suppliers of weapons technology.

While Russia, China, and North Korea continue to be the main suppliers of ballistic missiles and related technology, long-standing recipients—such as Iran—might become suppliers in their own right as they develop domestic production capabilities. Other countries that today import missile-related technology, such as Syria and Iraq, also may emerge in the next few years as suppliers.

Over the near term, we expect that most of their exports will be of shorter range ballistic missile-related equipment, components, and materials. But, as their domestic infrastructures and expertise develop, they will be able to offer a broader range of technologies that could include longer-range missiles and related technology.

  • Iran in the next few years may be able to supply not only complete Scuds, but also Shahab-3s and related technology, and perhaps even more-advanced
    technologies if Tehran continues to receive assistance from Russia, China, and North Korea.

Mr. Chairman, the problem may not be limited to missile sales; we also remain very concerned that new or nontraditional nuclear suppliers could emerge from this same pool.

This brings me to a new area of discussion: that more than ever we risk substantial surprise. This is not for a lack of effort on the part of the Intelligence Community; it results from significant effort on the part of proliferators.

There are four main reasons. First and most important, proliferators are showing greater proficiency in the use of denial and deception.

Second, the growing availability of dual-use technologies—including guidance and control equipment, electronic test equipment, and specialty materials—is making it easier for proliferators to obtain the materials they need.

  • The dual-use dilemma is a particularly vexing problem as we seek to detect and combat biological warfare programs, in part because of the substantial overlap between BW agents and legitimate vaccines. About a dozen countries either have offensive BW programs or are pursuing them. Some want to use them against regional adversaries, but others see them as a way to counter overwhelming US and Western conventional superiority.

Third, the potential for surprise is exacerbated by the growing capacity of countries seeking WMD to import talent that can help them make dramatic leaps on things like new chemical and biological agents and delivery systems. In short, they can buy the expertise that confers the advantage of technological surprise.

Finally, the accelerating pace of technological progress makes information and technology easier to obtain and in more advanced forms than when the weapons were initially developed.

We are making progress against these problems, Mr. Chairman, but I must tell you that the hill is getting steeper every year.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 September 16 11:19 AM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment


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