The New World After Iraq: The Continuing Threat of Weapons of Mass DestructionJohn R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Remarks to the Bruges Group
London, United Kingdom
October 30, 2003
It is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to address the Bruges Group to discuss the steps the Bush Administration is taking to keep our country and our friends and allies safe from the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Without question, today's greatest threat to international peace and stability comes from rogue states and terrorist groups that are unrestrained in their choice of weapon and undeterred by conventional means.
Until our Coalition took action last spring, the world faced a serious security threat with Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq. Here was a dictator who, while defying 17 Security Council resolutions, had ambitions to reconstitute his weapons arsenal, had obstructed and deceived international inspectors for twelve years, had used weapons of mass destruction ("WMD") against his own people, had twice invaded neighboring countries, and who had supported, and in some cases even harbored, terrorist groups. The interim report of the Iraq Survey Group shows that, as we suspected, Saddam never disarmed or disclosed as required. Dr. David Kay reports, for instance, that through interviews with Iraqi scientists and officials, the Group discovered "dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002."
Had we not eliminated Saddam's regime, he would have remained, as Condoleezza Rice said earlier this month, "poised in the heart of the Middle East, sitting atop a potentially deadly arsenal of terrible weapons, threatening his neighbors and the world." Some analysts have said that not finding WMD in Iraq -- to date -- proves that Saddam was not an imminent threat, and that, therefore, our Coalition military action was not justified. These criticisms miss the mark that our concern was not the imminence of Saddam's threat, but the very existence of his regime, given its heinous and undeniable record, capabilities and intentions. President Bush specifically and unambiguously addressed this issue in his January, 2003, State of the Union message when he said: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."
Given the right opportunity or incentive, Saddam could have easily transferred these weapons to terrorist groups or other non-state actors for their use against us, with potentially catastrophic results. For such terrorist groups, a weapon of mass destruction is increasingly a weapon of first, not last, resort, which they seek to acquire way they can. State sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya, are aggressively working to acquire weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems. Here lies a dangerous confluence of nefarious motives, and we must prevent the one from abetting the other. As President Bush told the United Nations last month, "Outlaw regimes that possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons -- and the means to deliver them -- would be able to use blackmail and create chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine. The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away."
We acted in Iraq because we were not willing to trust our security, and the security of our friends and allies, to the supposed restraint and circumspection of a dictator committed to acquiring deadly weapons of mass destruction. Saddam's continued defiance of U.N. resolutions and continued interest in weapons of mass destruction justified Coalition action. The risks of continued inaction were simply too high. As the President said recently, "It's a new kind of war, and America is following a new strategy. We're not waiting for further attacks. We're striking our enemies before they can strike us again."
Saddam's removal from power has unquestionably improved the international security situation. We are working tirelessly with thirty other Coalition partners to allow the Iraqis themselves to build the institutions of liberty and representative government, a peaceful society that no longer diverts its resources away from its citizens and toward the pursuit of WMD. But we face significant challenges in other parts of the world from terrorist-sponsoring regimes that are developing weapons of mass destruction in many forms. Rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba, whose pursuit of weapons of mass destruction makes them hostile to U.S. interests, will learn that their covert programs will not escape either detection or consequences. And while we will pursue diplomatic solutions whenever possible, the United States and its allies must be willing to deploy more robust techniques, such as the interdiction and seizure of illicit goods, the disruption of procurement networks, sanctions, or other means. If rogue states are not willing to follow the logic of nonproliferation norms, they must be prepared to face the logic of adverse consequences. It is why we repeatedly caution that no option is off the table.
Let me turn to the problem of Iran. Although Iran has robust BW, CW and missile programs, tonight I will focus on their nuclear weapons program. Our strategy is to use bilateral and multilateral pressure to end that program, and to secure international consensus against Iran's pursuit of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. To date, two reports by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA") have established that Iran is in violation -- in multiple instances -- of its safeguards obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). While Iran has consistently denied any program to develop nuclear weapons, the large and still-growing number of contradictions, inconsistencies and prevarications in its shifting explanations to the IAEA demonstrate convincingly that Iran is actively concealing a weapons program.
The United States believes that Iran's covert and costly effort to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program. Iran is trying to legitimize as "peaceful and transparent" its pursuit of nuclear fuel cycle capabilities that would give it the ability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. This includes uranium mining and extraction, uranium conversion and enrichment, reactor fuel fabrication, heavy water production, and "management" of spent fuel -- a euphemism for reprocessing spent fuel to recover plutonium. Iran is also benefiting from international nuclear assistance for its reactor project, even while it uses such ostensibly legitimate programs to help conceal its clandestine nuclear work.
For many years, the United States has called for increased international scrutiny of Iran's nuclear program. The member states of the G-8, the European Union, the members of the nuclear supplier regimes, and other multilateral bodies have joined us in expressing the strongest concern over Iran's nuclear activities, and have called on Iran to cooperate more fully to answer all outstanding questions. The IAEA Board's September 12 resolution made these concerns clear, and required that Iran fully satisfy specific criteria by October 31 if it expects to avoid a formal finding of NPT noncompliance by the Board. It is a testimony to the effectiveness of concerted international pressure that Iran has recently been willing to promise to agree to the Additional Protocol, and has provided the IAEA with at least some additional information about its nuclear program, a positive but long-overdue step. It still remains to be seen whether these initiatives will amount to more than mere words, and even if Iran follows through with its promises, many further steps will still be required in order to prove beyond doubt that Iran is foreswearing the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
If Iran does not comply with its NPT obligations, the Board of Governors must do its duty and -- based on the facts already reported by the Director General, along with whatever else he reports next month and other information we now have -- find Iran not in compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations. This would trigger a report by the IAEA to the Security Council. If that occurs, we expect the Security Council would then call on Iran to comply with IAEA demands and would use its authority to reinforce the IAEA's efforts.
Iran is a crucial test for the international community and for the credibility and survival of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If we stand firm together on this crucial issue, I am confident that we can preserve the credibility of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and help bring Iran back into compliance.
With regard to North Korea, President Bush's objective is quite clear: the United States seeks the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs. We seek to bring this about, as we have said repeatedly, through diplomatic dialogue in a multilateral framework involving those states with the most direct stakes in the outcome. Other states may yet be involved as appropriate. The North Korean nuclear program is not a bilateral issue between the United States and the DPRK. It is a profound challenge to regional and even global stability, and to the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
By pursuing this course, the President is determined that blackmail and bad behavior on the part of North Korea will not be rewarded. North Korea will not be given inducements to reverse actions it took in violation of its treaty commitments and other international obligations.
During the August six-party talks in Beijing, the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea emphasized that the Korean Peninsula must be free of nuclear weapons. North Korea further isolated itself by threatening provocative actions such as nuclear tests -- adding to threats it made in April that it might build more nuclear weapons and perhaps even transfer nuclear material or weapons to third parties.
In addition to seeking a solution through multilateral diplomacy, the United States, working with other countries, has taken steps to curtail dangerous and illicit North Korean activities such as drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and trade in WMD and missiles -- activities that finance Kim Jong-il's regime, including its nuclear activities.
We should not forget, however, that -- like Iran -- North Korea's violations of international norms are hardly restricted to its pursuit of nuclear weaponry. Although the DPRK has maintained its September, 1999, self-imposed, long-range missile flight test moratorium, it has remained active in the research, development, testing, deployment, and export of ballistic missiles and related materials, equipment, and technology. During a September, 2002, meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, DPRK President Kim Jong-il stated that North Korea would maintain its missile flight test moratorium through 2003. We are concerned, however, that North Korea may be trying to circumvent its promise by cooperating in testing and development with foreign missile programs.
North Korea has acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), but nonetheless has probably continued a biological warfare capabilities effort that began in the 1960s. Pyongyang's resources include a rudimentary biotechnical infrastructure that could support the production of infectious biological warfare agents such as anthrax, cholera, and plague. North Korea is believed to possess a munitions-production infrastructure that would allow it to weaponize biological agents, and may have biological weapons available for use.
We believe North Korea has had a long-standing chemical weapons program. North Korea's chemical weapons capabilities include the ability to produce bulk quantities of nerve, blister, choking, and blood agents using its sizeable, although aging, chemical industry. We believe it possesses a sizeable stockpile of these agents and weapons, which it could employ should there be renewed fighting on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea's international procurement actions continue. In May, 2003, for example, German authorities intercepted 30 metric tons of the Australia Group-controlled chemical weapons precursor, sodium cyanide, bound for North Korea. In August, 2003, Taiwan authorities off-loaded 158 barrels of the controlled chemical weapons precursor phosphorous pentasulfide, from the North Korean vessel Be Gae Hong. North Korea represents a dangerous mix of repressive dictatorship, pursuit of WMD capabilities, and longstanding ties to international terrorism.
As I have recently testified to Congress, we are concerned about Syria's nuclear research and development program and continue to watch for any signs of nuclear weapons activity or foreign assistance that could facilitate a Syrian nuclear weapons capability. We are aware of Syrian efforts to acquire dual-use technologies -- some, through the IAEA Technical Cooperation program -- that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In addition, Russia and Syria have approved a draft program on cooperation on civil nuclear power. Broader access to Russian expertise could provide opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons. Syria is a party to the NPT, and has a standard safeguards agreement with the IAEA, but has not yet signed or, to our knowledge, even begun negotiations on the IAEA Additional Protocol. The Additional Protocol is an important tool that, if fully implemented, could strengthen the IAEA's investigative powers to verify compliance with NPT safeguards obligations.
Since the 1970s, Syria has pursued what is now one of the most advanced Arab state chemical weapons capabilities. It has a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin that can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missiles, and has engaged in the research and development of more toxic and persistent nerve agents such as VX. Syria is fully committed to expanding and improving its CW program, which it believes serves as a deterrent to regional adversaries. It remains heavily dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its chemical warfare program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. As a result, Syria will need to continue foreign procurement activities in order to continue its CW program. We believe that Syria is continuing to develop an offensive biological weapons capability as well.
In addition, Syria's failure to secure its border with Iraq to guerrillas and terrorists poses a continuing threat to Coalition forces in Iraq. We have seen Syria take a series of hostile actions toward Coalition forces, such as allowing dual-use and military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war. Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq, volunteers who sought to attack and kill our service members during the war. Although the situation on the Syrian border has improved somewhat in recent weeks, the infiltration of these fighters into Iraq continues to be a significant problem for us, and we call on Syria to stop such traffic from moving across its borders. As Secretary Powell said last month, "I made it clear to the Syrians that to have good relations with the United States and with a liberated Iraq, they should do everything they could to make sure that the wrong sorts of people are not crossing the border to cause trouble in Iraq." The message that the Bush Administration and the Congress are sending is clear: Syria must immediately change course and change its behavior on all of these fronts, or face the consequences.
To roll back the proliferation activities of the rogue states, and to ensure that any of their WMD progress is not passed on to terrorist groups, the United States is employing a variety of methods, including multilateral agreements, diplomacy, arms control, threat reduction assistance, export control aid, and other means where necessary. Most importantly, we and our partners in the international community must maintain an unvarnished assessment of the proliferators, and disrupt their supply of sensitive goods and technology before it contributes to an increased WMD capability or falls into the hands of terrorists.
In situations where we cannot convince a state to stop proliferant behavior, or where items are shipped despite our best efforts to control them, we also have the option of interdicting shipments to ensure the technology does not fall in to the wrong hands. These interdiction efforts are an important addition to our comprehensive strategy to prevent proliferation. Interdiction involves identifying an imminent shipment or transfer and working to stop it. As the President noted in his National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, we must enhance the capabilities of our military, intelligence, technical, and law enforcement communities to prevent the movement of WMD materials, technology, and expertise to hostile states and terrorist organizations.
Proliferation Security Initiative
One of our newest and most promising counterproliferation initiatives, the Proliferation Security Initiative ("PSI"), was announced by President Bush on May 31. An essential component of U.S. counterproliferation strategy is to work with other concerned states to develop new means to disrupt the proliferation trade at sea, in the air, and on land. In this context, the United States and ten other close allies and friends -- Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK -- have worked to develop this new initiative. Our goal is to create a more dynamic, creative, and robust approach to preventing WMD, missiles, and related technologies flowing to and from countries of proliferation concern.
The PSI has been a fast-moving effort, reflecting the urgency attached to establishing a more coordinated and active basis to prevent proliferation. On September 4, after just three months, agreement on and publication of the PSI "Statement of Interdiction Principles" was achieved. The Statement of Interdiction Principles has been shared with countries around the world. The response to the PSI and the Principles has been very positive, with more than 50 countries already indicating they support the PSI and are ready to participate in interdiction efforts. We are moving to establish the practical basis for cooperating on interdictions with such countries.
PSI participants have agreed on a series of ten sea, air, and ground interdiction training exercises to occur into 2004. Australia organized and executed one such exercise last month in the Coral Sea that involved both military and law enforcement assets. Four PSI partners, including the United States, sent vessels to the exercise, and all PSI partners were involved in some capacity. On October 8-9, the United Kingdom hosted the first PSI air interdiction training exercise, designed to explore operational issues associated with the interception of proliferation-related trafficking in the air. And in mid-October, Spain hosted the second maritime interdiction training exercise, this one in the western Mediterranean Sea. This exercise involved concrete contributions from France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as observers from other PSI participant nations. PSI nations have now trained for maritime interdiction operations in both the Mediterranean and the western Pacific Ocean, two areas that are particularly prone to proliferation trafficking. Additional training exercises will be held in the months to come, further improving our ability for interdictions.
As the PSI moves forward, we expect other countries will join in these training opportunities. President Bush has made clear that we hope to involve all countries that have a stake in nonproliferation and who have the will and ability to take necessary action to address this growing threat. Our long-term objective is to create a web of counterproliferation partnerships through which proliferators will have difficulty carrying out their trade in WMD and missile related technology. As the President said last month, "We're determined to keep the world's most destructive weapons away from all our shores, and out of the hands of our common enemies."
It is important to note that our interdiction efforts in PSI are grounded in existing domestic and international authorities. By coordinating our efforts with other countries, we can draw upon an enhanced set of authorities for interdiction; that is, the sum of our efforts may be more effective than taking action individually.
Properly planned and executed, the interception of critical technologies while en route can prevent hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring these dangerous capabilities. At a minimum, interdiction can lengthen the time that proliferators will need to acquire new weapons capabilities, increase their cost, and demonstrate our resolve to combat proliferation.
G-8 Global Partnership
The G-8 Global Partnership Initiative, launched by G-8 Leaders at the June, 2002, Kananaskis Summit, is also an important nonproliferation achievement of this administration. The goal of the Global Partnership Initiative is to raise up to $20 billion over ten years for nonproliferation, disarmament, and nuclear safety cooperation projects to prevent the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction.
President Bush is committed to raising half of this total. Counting the U.S. contribution, the G-7 countries have pledged a little over $16 billion to date, and Russia intends to spend about $2 billion on its priority projects. We hope to see the remaining gap closed by the next G-8 Summit. The G-8 welcomed the participation of six additional countries -- Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland -- this past summer. The initial focus has been on projects in Russia, but we expect the Partnership to recognize additional states of the former Soviet Union as recipients in the coming year, beginning with Ukraine.
As we approach the U.S. G-8 Presidency beginning January 1, improved Russian cooperation regarding project implementation remains a challenge for the success of the Partnership. Securing Russian agreement to support effective verification measures and to provide adequate liability provisions, commensurate with those in the U.S.-Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction umbrella agreement, is essential to moving forward on key nonproliferation projects. Taxation exemption and access to work sites are continuing concerns, as well as Russian delays in concluding implementing arrangements with other donor countries, impeding expenditure of their pledges.
Dangerous Materials Initiative
Yet another new initiative, the Dangerous Materials Initiative ("DMI"), responds to the President's call at the U.N. General Assembly last month to secure the most dangerous materials at their source. Through the DMI, the administration will work to identify gaps in the control of dangerous materials worldwide. DMI projects will help regulate, track, secure and safeguard biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological materials, as well as the know-how to make them into weapons of terror and war. To encourage international participation, we will share with our partners a menu of important projects in this area that they might support.
In the decades after World War II, large quantities of highly enriched uranium ("HEU") were exported to more than 50 countries, primarily by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Most of this material was used to fuel research reactors, and much of it still remains stored at or near these reactors under security arrangements that vary widely in quality. Since 1978, the United States has been engaged in an expanding effort to minimize international commerce in HEU, to reduce, and if possible eliminate, stockpiles of this weapons-usable material in foreign countries. Where this is not immediately feasible, it aims to improve physical protection at storage sites.
Our current efforts include a number of such programs, several of which involve close cooperation with Russia. These programs assist in the conversion of research reactors from HEU to low enriched uranium, and return U.S.-origin HEU from reactors in up to forty-one counties for permanent disposition in the U.S. The Departments of State and Energy are fully cooperating to advance all of these programs. Our goal is to reduce to an absolute minimum international commerce in and unsecured storage of weapons-usable uranium throughout the world.
Each of these initiatives moves us closer to a more secure world where we are able not only to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to "roll back" and ultimately eliminate such weapons from the arsenals of rogue states and ensure that the terrorist groups they sponsor do not acquire a shortcut to their deadly designs against us. As President Bush said this month, "After all the action we have taken, after all the progress we have made against terror, there is a temptation to think the danger has passed. The danger hasn't passed....America must not forget the lessons of September 11th." Indeed, that danger is present in a growing number of places, and we must be vigilant in recognizing -- and then confronting -- the emerging threats against our common security.
Released on October 30, 2003