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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2006

New Initiatives in Cooperative Threat Reduction

Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
February 9, 2006

(As prepared)

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committee, I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with you today the role of the State Department in implementing the President’s strategy against weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as well as in reducing the threat of dangerous conventional arms.

From his first days in office, President Bush has given the highest priority to combating WMD and missile proliferation, and has developed many new measures to counter this challenge. The Administration began by fashioning the first truly national, comprehensive strategy for preventing and protecting against the proliferation threat. The National Strategy to Combat WMD, issued publicly in December 2002, readily acknowledged that the starting point, and initial line of defense, is to prevent proliferation. However, we also knew that prevention would not always succeed. Therefore, the strategy placed new emphasis on protection from, and response to, the use of these weapons against the United States, our friends, and our allies. For this reason, we are building the counterproliferation capabilities to deter, defend against, and defeat weapons of mass destruction in the hands of our enemies, and we are acquiring the ability to contain and reduce the potentially horrific effects if these weapons are used against us.

The three pillars of our strategy – counterproliferation, nonproliferation, and consequence management – do not stand alone, but rather come together as elements of a unified approach. Underlining that point, the National Strategy identifies four crosscutting functions that are essential to combating WMD: improved intelligence collection and analysis, research and development, bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and tailored strategies against hostile states and terrorists. We must bring all elements of our strategy to bear in our targeted effort against WMD and missile proliferation. To that end, the Department of State works closely with the National and Homeland Security Council Staffs, the Departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture, and the Intelligence Community.

While the threat from WMD and their delivery systems must be our highest priority, we are also working actively to reduce the massive stocks of surplus conventional arms worldwide. Landmines, unexploded ordnance, aging and poorly secured weapons stockpiles, and abandoned munitions all create humanitarian as well as security dangers. In too many parts of the globe, they harm innocent civilians, threaten our armed forces and those of our allies, weaken the stability of friends, and contribute to the creation of large "ungovernable" areas effectively outside of state control and open to terrorism.

Transformational Diplomacy/State Department Reorganization

When Secretary Rice began her tenure, she challenged the State Department to transform the way we think about diplomacy and consider how we might best use our diplomatic tools to meet the threats of today, not of yesterday. Contemporary diplomatic efforts to counter WMD and missile proliferation and the accumulation of dangerous conventional weapons stocks bear little resemblance to those of the past. No longer do we engage in ponderous and lengthy negotiations that focused primarily on the offensive forces of two antagonistic superpowers.

We have worked to improve our ability to use effective diplomacy to meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats by restructuring the State Department arms control and nonproliferation organization to deal with contemporary realities, such as black markets, front companies, and global terrorist networks. To that end, we have created a new Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, a new post of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterproliferation, and new offices responsible for Counterproliferation Initiatives, WMD Terrorism, and Strategic Planning. We have also expanded the portfolio of, and renamed accordingly, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Office.

The Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives takes the lead for the Department in developing, implementing and improving counterproliferation measures. It has brought new focus to the Department’s counterproliferation efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative and other defensive measures against proliferation, and implementation of financial efforts such as Executive Order 13382 relating to proliferation financing. By working with the other agencies of the U.S. Government, the new Counterproliferation Initiatives office can leverage our ability to work with other governments to plan and carry out interdiction of WMD shipments, build political will and national capacity to impede WMD-related shipments, and coordinate multinational activities including implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540. The Office of WMD Terrorism directly confronts the nexus between terrorism and WMD. It is developing policies and plans, directing, initiating, and coordinating activities to help build the capabilities of our friends and allies to prevent, protect, and respond to the threat or use of WMD by terrorists. The Office of Strategic Planning and Outreach undertakes strategic and long-range planning, program analysis and evaluation – to encourage new and innovative thinking to meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats.

In another important element of the State Department’s restructuring, we have expanded the responsibilities of the former Bureau of Verification and Compliance, now named the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation (VCI). In doing so, we have enhanced our ability to pursue the achievement of critical treaty requirements: implementation, effective verification, and full compliance. VCI now oversees the implementation of many existing treaty commitments, some of long-standing. It also is responsible for ensuring full, verified compliance with all arms control and nonproliferation commitments, including more modern ones, which may not involve detailed written agreements. A key example of the latter is implementation of Libya’s historic December 2003 decision to eliminate its WMD and longer-range missile programs. Under the direction of the Proliferation Strategy Policy Coordinating Committee, VCI is also now leading interagency efforts to develop our concepts for the verified denuclearization of North Korea, consistent with the September 19, 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement.

Finally, in 2003, we created the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement within the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs to provide a strategic focus on the growing conventional weapons proliferation challenge. Uniting formerly separate units responsible for Humanitarian Demining, Mine Action, and Small Arms/Light Weapons initiatives, the established mission of this office clearly describes its comprehensive approach: "to develop policy options, implement destruction and mitigation programs, and engage civil society in order to reduce the harmful worldwide effects generated by indiscriminately used illicit and abandoned conventional weapons of war."

S.1949 – Lugar-Obama Legislation

Mr. Chairman, the Department of State fully shares the core objectives of the proposed "Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2005." We have transformed our internal organization to provide the focus on proliferation detection, interdiction, and conventional weapons destruction that the legislation envisages. The Administration as a whole has developed an effective interagency structure for interdiction to coordinate efforts quickly and effectively. We are now working to augment our capacity for detection and interdiction, to expand our programs worldwide, and to ensure that they fully meet their intended purpose – to prevent dangerous WMD-related shipments from reaching their intended destination. We are also expanding our efforts, and cooperating closely with other agencies and governments, to destroy or disable man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), persistent landmines, small arms/light weapons, and other conventional arms of greatest concern.

The Department looks forward to working with the Committee to address how best to enhance our ability – and to assist our partners to enhance their ability – to meet the full spectrum of WMD, missile, and conventional threats. In particular, flexible funding authority can help us to take on high priority tasks, some unforeseen, for which other agencies – or other governments – are not as well equipped. A good example of the importance of such flexibility was our ability to use the Department of State’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF) to help implement rapidly the elimination of Libya’s WMD and longer-range missile programs. Without that flexibility, we could not have removed quickly Libya’s UF6, centrifuge equipment, uranium metal casting gear, or SCUD-C ballistic missiles. We fully support Section 106 of S.1949, which would permanently authorize NDF activities to be conducted outside the former Soviet states.

The President and his Administration have devoted higher priority, and more funding, to nonproliferation and weapons reduction assistance than any of their predecessors. The President also has spearheaded efforts like the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to increase dramatically the contribution of our international partners in this area. However, the United States, even when joined by active partners, cannot do everything at once. Therefore, we must establish priorities.

In that regard, the Department is concerned at the requirement in S.1949 to devote specific amounts from our Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR), and our Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program to help other states with WMD detection, WMD interdiction, and conventional arms reduction. While these objectives are certainly important, the designation of funds as required by the legislation could lead us to devote funds to efforts for which other agencies -- for example, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security on interdiction or the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security on detection -- may be better suited to develop and manage. Potentially even more significant, such designation of funds could also prevent us from implementing what may be higher priority programs – support to capacity building against WMD terrorism might be a good example – in which State Department funds might best be used.

Let me emphasize that our concerns about this aspect of the proposed legislation do not in any way imply that we do not place great importance on the tasks it outlines, or that we do not agree that far more remains to be done in these vital security areas. I look forward to consulting with this Committee to ensure we have the tools to carry out these missions in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible.

Accomplishments and Challenges

I would like now to outline briefly some of our key accomplishments -- and challenges that remain -- in combating WMD proliferation and reducing the threat from conventional weapons.

We are taking a broad range of defensive measures – using numerous instruments, policies, and programs -- to protect ourselves from WMD proliferation and WMD-armed adversaries. At one end of the spectrum are those measures that prevent proliferators from gaining access to sensitive technologies and materials that could represent a short cut to nuclear weapons. The Nunn-Lugar programs, and their spin-offs in the State Department and Department of Energy, are key to reinforcing other important measures such as working to ensure effective export controls by all states. It is noteworthy how these programs have evolved to meet today’s threats, from an early focus on denuclearizing Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan and reducing the former Soviet strategic arsenal, to an increasing concentration on measures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.

Detection is a critical part of that effort, with major contributions from my Department’s Export Control and Border Security program, the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the Department of Homeland Security’s Container Security Initiative program, and the Department of Energy’s Second Line of Defense and Megaports programs. For example, the Second Line of Defense Core Program has equipped 78 sites in Russia, with another 8 planned for this fiscal year. Recent agreements will allow installations to proceed in Slovenia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The Second Line of Defense Core Program has also assumed responsibility for maintaining detection equipment installed under several U.S. government programs in 23 former Soviet and Central European countries between 1992 and 2002. Megaports work is underway in 14 countries, with portal monitors having been installed so far in Greece, the Netherlands, and Sri Lanka. The Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is developing a global nuclear detection architecture that will serve as a backdrop for these individual detection-related programs.

Other defensive measures address the financial underpinnings of proliferation. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 --– adopted in April 2004 at the President’s urging -- requires states to adopt and enforce effective controls on funds and services related to export and transshipment that would contribute to state or non-state WMD efforts. Consistent with Resolution 1540, G-8 Leaders have called for enhanced efforts to combat proliferation through cooperation to identify, track, and freeze transactions and assets associated with proliferation activities.

President Bush augmented U.S. efforts last June when he issued Executive Order 13382, which authorizes the U.S. Government to freeze assets and block transactions of designated entities and persons, or their supporters, engaged in proliferation activities and to prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with them. Currently 18 entities – 6 from Iran, as well as 11 from North Korea and one from Syria – have been designated under the Order, and we are actively considering designating additional ones.

One of the most important defensive measures by the Bush Administration, of course, is PSI, involving close interaction among – and the creative use of – diplomatic, military, economic, law enforcement, and intelligence tools to combat proliferation. PSI countries are applying laws already on the books in innovative ways and cooperating as never before to interdict shipments, to disrupt proliferation networks, and to hold accountable the front companies that support them. PSI has expanded to include support from more than 70 countries and continues to grow. And it is working. PSI cooperation has prevented WMD- and missile-related shipments to Iran and from North Korea. And, of course, it was PSI cooperation among the United States, United Kingdom, and other European partners that began the demise of the A.Q. Khan proliferation network, and contributed importantly to Libya’s decision to abandon its WMD and longer-range missile programs.

Regarding surplus conventional weapons, the threat requires a comprehensive solution not bound by limitations based on weapon type or size. The problem takes myriad forms, depending among other things on the region and on the host government’s attitude toward the problem. The Department of State has developed a variety of tools to respond to each situation in an effective manner. We provide site surveys to assess areas affected by landmines or unexploded ordnance, or weapons and munitions storage facilities. We provide assistance for physical security and stockpile management and for demining and destruction of excess weapons or munitions. In some cases, like Cambodia and Bosnia, our demonstrated success dealing with landmine problems has been leveraged to gain access to small arms/light weapons, particularly MANPADS. We have created fully integrated programs capable of addressing landmines, ordnance, and small arms/light weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan, and are working to do the same in several other countries.

Since 1993, the United States has allocated over $1 billion to address in 40 countries the humanitarian effects caused by the indiscriminate use of persistent landmines. Since 2001 we have destroyed over 800,000 small arms/light weapons and 80 million pieces of ammunition. S.1949 rightly emphasizes the unique threat that MANPADS pose to civilian aviation. For a relatively small amount of money, the Department of State, with assistance from the Department of Defense and others, has had substantial success in destroying MANPADS at risk of falling into the hands of terrorists. We have destroyed or disabled over 17,000 at-risk MANPADS and have commitments for the destruction of over 7,000 more. Also, we are working in a number of international fora, including the United Nations, NATO, Wassenaar, the G-8, OSCE, OAS, and APEC, to create global political support for actions to reduce MANPADS and ensure they stay out of the hands of terrorists.

In another important effort, eleven nations and the European Union have matched our funding for the NATO-Partnership for Peace project to destroy munitions, small arms, light weapons, and MANPADS in Ukraine. Our partners’ contributions have doubled the funds available for the project. The United States is supporting similar programs in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and an assessment mission to Georgia took place in December 2005.

I would now like to turn to four proliferation challenges.

The first is to end the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs. President Bush has made clear that we will protect ourselves and our allies from these threats, and that all options remain on the table. He has made equally clear that our preference is to resolve them through diplomacy.

In the Joint Statement agreed on September 19, 2005 at the Six-Party Talks, North Korea committed to abandoning all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. This was a notable development, but we still must agree on, and implement, the detailed requirements of North Korean denuclearization and its verification. That task will certainly be difficult. Indeed, North Korea’s behavior since the Joint Statement has underscored the difficulties ahead. First, it demanded a light water reactor immediately after the issuance of the Joint Statement – in contrast to what was in the Joint Statement itself. More recently, Pyongyang indicated that it would boycott further negotiations until the United States rescinds what North Korea calls "economic sanctions" against it. We have made clear that we are committed to pursuing successful Six Party negotiations, and are ready to resume the talks at any time. However, we have also made clear that we intend to continue, and will expand as necessary and appropriate, our defensive measures to ensure that we can protect ourselves from the proliferation threats from North Korea, as well as from its illicit activities, including money laundering and counterfeiting.

In some ways, the challenge Iran poses to the nuclear nonproliferation regime is even more daunting and complex than the North Korean threat. Although the evidence – including Iran’s 20 years of hiding sensitive nuclear fuel cycle efforts – clearly indicates a weapons program, Iran continues to maintain that its work is peaceful. Last week, in a significant victory for our efforts to deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors reported Iran to the United Nations Security Council. The vote, which secured the support of all the Permanent Members of the Security Council as well as key states such as India, Egypt, and Brazil, sent a clear signal to the Iranian government that it will not be able to divide the international community and continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

We are entering a new phase of diplomacy where the Iranian regime is increasingly isolated and the international community increasingly united in calling on Iran’s leaders to reverse course. The issue is now before the Security Council. We expect the Council to take up action on Iranian noncompliance after Director General ElBaradei’s report to the March 6 meeting of the IAEA Board.

The Security Council will not supplant the IAEA effort, but reinforce it – for example, by calling on Iran to cooperate with the Agency and to take steps the IAEA Board has identified to restore confidence, and by giving the IAEA new, needed authority to investigate all aspects of the Iranian nuclear effort.
The Council should make clear to the Iranian regime that there will be consequences if it does not step away from its nuclear weapons ambitions. We will continue to consult closely with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany (the so-called EU-3) and the European Union, with Russia, China, and many other members of the international community as this new diplomatic phase proceeds.

We have no illusion that reporting the Iran issue to the Security Council will produce a quick resolution of the threat that Iran presents. When faced with a challenge like that which we face from the Iranian regime -- a government that is able to bring to bear many of its own tools -- diplomacy will never be easy, nor will its results be immediate. But diplomacy remains essential and, despite the frustrations, is working. The Security Council offers the best next step for diplomacy to succeed.

The second challenge is to end the proliferation trade by rogue states, individuals, and groups. We have made considerable progress over the last few years. We have moved from the creation of international export control standards to their active enforcement – through enhanced national legislation, improved detection, interdictions, international law enforcement, and financial cooperation. We have shut down the world’s most dangerous proliferation network and steadily reduced the opportunities available to proliferators. However, proliferators are quick to adapt to changing environments and move their business to less intrusive environments. We must continue to expand and deepen our efforts – using all available national and international authorities and, where necessary, creating new ones until the proliferation trade has been effectively ended.

The third challenge that I would emphasize is the need to prevent terrorist acquisition and use of WMD, especially biological and nuclear weapons. If terrorists acquire these weapons, they are likely to employ them, with potentially catastrophic effects. A well-organized terrorist group with appropriate technical expertise could probably create a crude nuclear device once it gained access to fissile material. Although terrorist use of a radioactive dispersal device is far more likely, the consequences of a terrorist nuclear attack would be so catastrophic that the danger requires particular attention. On the biological weapons side, with today’s dual-use capabilities and access to particular, dangerous pathogens -- many of which exist in nature or could be relatively easily obtained and cultured -- the bioterror challenge presents a low-cost means of a potentially high-impact attack.

Many of the tools we have in place to combat proliferation by rogue states are important in the fight against WMD terrorism. A few examples are: reducing the global stocks of fissile material; improved nuclear and biological detection capability; and the interdiction of trafficking in nuclear and biological materials and weapons components. However, preventing WMD terrorism requires different approaches from those we have followed against state WMD programs or against non-WMD-related terrorism. For example, intelligence collection and action against the proliferation of WMD have traditionally focused on state-based programs, while anti-terrorist intelligence has focused on individuals and groups. Intelligence regarding the nexus of terrorism and WMD must cover the full range of state and non-state threats and their interrelationships. We are working hard to close any remaining gaps and to ensure that the intelligence process supports our strategic approach to combating WMD terrorism. The National Counterterrorism Center’s ongoing efforts and the recent establishment of the National Counterproliferation Center are critical steps to ensuring better integration and responsiveness across the U.S. Government against the WMD terrorism threat. The Department of State will continue to work closely with both centers and with all agencies to produce targeted strategies, to synchronize resources to disrupt terrorist groups seeking to acquire or use WMD, and to deter and defeat those who may provide terrorists with safe haven or support.

Any effective strategic approach will entail working with partner nations to build a global layered defense to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat or use of WMD by terrorists. To prevent, we will undertake national, multilateral, and global efforts to deny terrorists access to the most dangerous materials. To protect, we will develop new tools and capabilities with partner nations to detect the movement of WMD and to disrupt linkages between WMD terrorists and their facilitators. Because we can never be certain of our ability to prevent or protect against all potential WMD terrorist attacks, we will cooperate with partners to manage and mitigate the consequences of such attacks, and to improve our capabilities to attribute their source. Thus, we will work to harness, in an effective multinational way, all relevant collective resources to establish more coordinated and effective capabilities to prevent, protect against, and respond to the global threat of WMD terrorism.

Finally, we must address the challenge of the huge remaining stockpiles of dangerous conventional weapons. The United Nations estimates that over 600 million small arms/light weapons are in circulation worldwide. Of these, an estimated one to three million are in Nigeria, where there are 100 active militias in the Rivers State alone. Huge Cold War-era stocks in Central and Eastern Europe present a dangerous legacy. According to the Russian Government, over 15,000 small arms and light weapons were stolen from Defense and Interior Ministry stockpiles and units between 1994 and 2001. One and a half million tons of munitions in Ukraine have been declared surplus, and 340,000 tons require urgent disposal. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria each have tens of thousands of tons of surplus ammunition. We estimate that since the 1970s, over 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS, causing 25 plane crashes, primarily in war zones, and over 600 deaths. More than 100 countries are affected, and approximately 20 are heavily affected, by landmines and/or unexploded ordnance.

The challenge posed by these conventional weapons is massive, but well-targeted assistance has achieved – and will continue to achieve – positive, cost-effective results. The Department of State has made great strides over the last few years in addressing this threat, but we have yet to realize our full potential. Working closely with other agencies and with other governments, we look to greater progress in the future. We also know we must work closely with Congress in meeting this essential national security goal. We greatly value and appreciate the support of this Committee and the Senate more broadly.


Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Department of State and the Administration, I would like to thank you for your vision, leadership, and support as we confront the threat of weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and dangerous conventional arms. As I have described, we have been working hard to develop innovative and more effective tools. We have had considerable success, but there is much that still needs to be done. I look forward to working with you and the Committee to ensure that the Department implements fully the transformational diplomacy required to protect the American people, our friends and allies from the threats of the 21st century.

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