June 15, 2004 Tuesday
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: SEA ISLAND AND BEYOND: STATUS REPORT ON THE GLOBAL WAR AGAINST WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN)
PANEL 1: SENATOR PETE DOMENICI (R-NM)
PANEL 2: JOHN BOLTON, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY; LINTON BROOKS, ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
LOCATION: 419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): May I make one comment before you leave, Pete? First of all, thank you-thank you for the passion you bring to this. Quite frankly, there's a real unmet need here, and there is a-there's a plan, there's a solution. And you getting as deeply involved in it, you've always been deeply involved in it, but as vocal as you are now is really worthwhile.
And I have not discussed this with the chairman, but one of the things that I think maybe would be a useful thing, because I watched the effect the chairman had on-personally observed the effect the chairman had on President Bush on another matter relating to a threat reduction initiative, where the president actually changed the policy that the administration was following after listening to the chairman, because the president had an open mind about it-he has a thousand things in his mind-and once the chairman focused him, within two weeks, something that had been bottlenecked for some time changed.
I think it would be, quite frankly, useful, because I have found every time we have importuned the president on an important issue, he listens. And it might be useful maybe for me not to be involved or be involved, but for you and the chairman and possibly me, to ask to see the president. I think this is so important. This is one of those things that if we actually asked for a meeting with the president, 15 minutes of his time, because once he focuses, if he decides, he's the guy that can move those pieces. We can't move the negotiating process, but he can.
And so I just raise that for your consideration. And again, I said-I wouldn't ordinarily say that except I watched him, I watched the chairman in a meeting with principals who didn't have the same view, debate it openly in front of the president, and the president make a choice that things. So, I just raise that for your consideration.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President-Mr. Chairman-I appreciate you holding this hearing.
With the possible exception of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I can't think of anything short-term that is more urgent and, long-term, I can't think of even including Iraq and Afghanistan in anything more urgent than this topic, and that is the risk posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. To the extent that we have had disagreement-or-not disagreement-a dissonance with the administration, it's been about the degree of urgency and how high on the agenda this issue should be. Over three years ago, we held a hearing when the report filed by now-Ambassador Baker, then Howard Baker, the former senator from Tennessee, a majority leader, and Lloyd Cutler, and they wrote that the most urgent-and I'm quoting-"The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home."
At that time, which we all know, they proposed that the world devote $3 billion per year to securing former Soviet nuclear materials-that's just Soviet nuclear materials-and we're not there yet. Given the non-proliferation initiatives at last week's G-8 Summit, this week's review by the International Atomic Energy Agency of Iran's nuclear program and next week's resumption of six party talks in North Korea, this is a particularly appropriate kind of review of our non- proliferation efforts.
And the Senate has added to the Defense Bill an amendment that was just discussed by Sen. Domenici, a significant amendment that you and I co-sponsored called "A Global Cleanout of Fissile and Radiological Material." I am especially pleased that Sen. Domenici was our lead witness today and, as you can see by his passion, how strongly he feels about this. He has been a tower of strength in non- proliferation issues, and he has led the efforts to accelerate DOE programs. The senator's amendment complements the Global Threat Reduction Initiative that Secretary Abraham announced in Vienna on May 26th to repatriate Russian and U.S. highly enriched uranium or so- called HEU, to convert civilian research reactors that use HEU to use low-enriched uranium fuel instead.
I don't want to appear ungrateful, but I'm not convinced that even this initiative goes far enough or fast enough. It's great that we are accelerating some efforts by as much as two years and others by up to 50 percent, but the real question is, how long is this going to take to recover and secure all at-risk fissile material? Will this be done by 2008 or will we be still talking about it in 2013? I welcome, also, the initiative that came out of the G-8 Summit, but I'd like to hear from Secretary Bolton about whether and how these promises are going to achieve tangible progress. The action plan on non- proliferation contains some new initiatives and reiterates others. It adopts or supports several ideas that the president has set forth in his February 11th speech. G-8 members also agreed to expand the Global Partnership that works to secure and dismantle Russian WMD materials.
All these agreements and initiatives sound like progress, but will significant new resources be devoted to them by our G-8 partners, by Global Partnership members, and by our own OMB in our own budget in our process? Too often bright new initiatives turn out to be largely repackaging funds that already are in the budget. Too often bureaucratic disputes over issues like access and liability stall our programs. I wonder whether these disputes can be resolved without engaging the president of the United States and President Putin to give them the sustained attention that they need? Too often promises are not implemented when tough action, such as export control laws, sanctions, and actual enforcement are called for. I'd like to hear from our witnesses today how these fine words will translate into real action and what the administration will do at the highest levels to make non-proliferation initiatives work.
As we confront problems of a nuclear-armed North Korea-increasingly armed North Korea-of a potentially nuclear Iran, and terrorist-seeking weapons of mass destruction real and effective action could not be more urgent. I literally cannot think of a single thing, speaking for myself, that would warrant more allocation of American resources at this moment than this issue. I can't fathom anything approaching this. I mean, look, we all know-we all talk so much about terror, we all talk so much about terrorism, I remind you what you all know; I remind all of us in the Senate as well-back over a year-and-a-half ago, and as the chairman will recall, at the time when-before the last election, and I was sitting in this senator's seat, I actually asked the heads of the National Laboratories whether they could produce a homemade nuclear weapon off the shelf, and they said they'd go back, and they'd think about it. They came back with a homemade nuclear weapon. They physically-as they say, it was bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a dump truck-they physically showed it to us. The only thing it lacked was the fissile material needed for it to function. And this was literally purchased without violating-they put it together without violating any law in the United States of America-purchasing the material. Thank God, the fissile material is the hard part to get.
So I can't think of anything, anything at all, more urgent than this, and my only-my primary disagreement with the administration is the apparent-speaking only for myself-the apparent lack of a sense of urgency, and I'm anxious to hear from our witnesses today, and I thank the chairman again, and I thank Sen. Domenici for his being so fully engaged in this.
BREAK IN TEXT
SEN. BIDEN: If you know, did the president raise the failure to keep the commitment with Putin to submit the CTR at Sea Island?
MR. BOLTON: I don't have a readout of the bilateral discussion at Sea Island at this point, Senator, So I'm afraid I can't answer the question.
SEN. BIDEN: So the bottom line is, there really isn't much-I mean, I'm not being a wise guy when I say this-it's kind of above your pay grade right now. I mean, there's nothing to negotiate. There's nothing to negotiate as it relates to CTR anyway. We have a firm plan. We don't want to change from the original agreement under Nunn-Lugar. And you believe and the administration believes, if submitted, it would be ratified the same way as Nunn-Lugar has proceeded.
And so what's-you keep talking about negotiating. What are we negotiating?
SEN. BIDEN: Well, the issue for plutonium disposition is whether we are prepared to accept a liability protection provision that is less comprehensive --
SEN. BIDEN: No, I got that. But I thought you said to me sequentially you're not going to do anything until CTR is submitted. In other words, you're not going to agree on the plutonium side to a lesser liability coverage than exists under Nunn-Lugar. Is that correct?
MR. BOLTON: I think our feeling has been, as a negotiating matter, that losing the leverage --
SEN. BIDEN: Right.
MR. BOLTON: -- of the protection of CTR would put us in a vulnerable position.
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not taking issue with you. I just want to make sure I understand it. So there's --
MR. BOLTON: I'd be happy for some negotiating advice if there's another way around this.
SEN. BIDEN: No, I'm not suggesting-all I'm trying to do is make sure I understand this in a very simple, straightforward way. It's a legitimate position you've taken. One is, we're not going to negotiate any lesser standard until we get the standard we've had in the past for CTR. Then we may or may not negotiate a lesser standard than the CTR standard as it relates to other initiatives. Right? That's the bottom line.
MR. BOLTON: Exactly correct.
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. So my point is, you're out of business. There's not a damn thing you can do. You accept that position. There's nothing you can do. So it seems to me it's real simple.
MR. BOLTON: Until the Russians come through on their commitment.
SEN. BIDEN: Exactly. That's all I'm saying. Again, I just want to make sure I fully understand this. So, it's real simple, it's above your pay grade, you're out of the deal. There's no sense in you talking to anybody, and so we really should go see the president. The president has got to pick up the phone, get on the line, and find out whether Putin is going to keep his commitments, and whether you guys, what I would suggest you be doing, is figuring out whatever leverage points we have with Putin. There's a lot of things he wants and needs right now. So, I suspect you all should be doing something else other than talking about liability. You all should be figuring out what are the leverages for Mr. President. Were the Chairman, the president, and I in your position, I would be having my staff figure out what are the three or four things you pick up the phone, Mr. President, and call Mr. Putin about and say, by the way, I need this now. Now, you need A, B, C, and D. This is the deal I'll make. That's the negotiation, not at your level, and you're at a very significant level. I'm in no way diminishing your role, except that now I understand clearly, and I'm not taking issue with it, that if you're not willing to accept a lesser standard, as the Europeans have in some circumstances, and CTR is the place everything starts, nothing else is going to happen until CTR is finished. Which means, we're in trouble unless something happens on CTR very quickly.
I just want to make sure that I got that straight. Again, I'm not taking issue with it, I'm just making sure I understand it.
MR. BOLTON: If I may make one point, and again I think I should refer to Linton Brooks in terms of scheduling, but we have sought to, in the plutonium disposition area, to try to resolve the liability question while other work continues, so that the plutonium disposition, design, and regulatory approval work, which is not as urgent in its requirement to have a liability issue since the likelihood of an incident of liability is remote, while that work proceeds.
SEN. BIDEN: I got that. You're not at a standstill. Linton, you're working at this, you're trying to get everything in place so that when it comes time for the part that relates to where there could theoretically be exposure, no pun intended, liability, that hopefully by that time the rest of it will be done. But you're not negotiating liability, are you?
MR. BROOKS: No.
SEN. BIDEN: No. So, what the heck are we talking about here? You know, I mean, there is no negotiation going on relative to liability. There is progress being made, or attempting to be made in every area that takes you up to the point where you can't go any further unless a liability position is resolved. And, that seems real simple. The President of the United States of America, beginning, middle and end, it's in his lap. It's a matter of how important it is to him, and whether or not he can push, and I think we should try to find out, not in this hearing, what it is that he's willing to, if anything, if there's nothing he can offer in return beyond the significant offer we're making to secure this material, then I'm not sure what else can be done.
Again, I'm not taking issue. You're moving along. You're moving along as far as you can at this point.
Let me ask you a larger question. Do either of you, and I would like either of you to respond as quickly as you could, if you could, do our allies share the same sense of urgency regarding the nonproliferation programs? We recently-it's not recently, it's been about a year now, we had a group of our counterparts over here-maybe it's a little longer now actually-from the NATO Assembly, and who focused specifically, as we do in this committee, on this issue of proliferation, and particularly Russia. I sense no sense of urgency in talking to them. I didn't get any sense at the time that they thought they were in the game in a big enough way, or should be in the game in a big enough way to secure these materials within Russia. And I got a sense that the pursuit of projects on the part of our European friends related more to their industrial and environmental concerns than it did to concerns relating to these materials getting into the hands of bad guys to do serious damage to them in Western Europe. Can you give me as honest an assessment as you can as to whether or not my perception is correct or incorrect? I would appreciate that.
MR. BOLTON: Well, I don't think you can make a blanket judgment about all of them. I think that --
SEN. BIDEN: Let's start with France.
BREAK IN TEXT
SEN BIDEN: That's all right. Maybe in writing I'll submit that question to you, okay.
The G8 agreed to "deplore Iran's conduct," and to "urge Iran promptly, and to comply with its commitments and all IEA board requirements." But, it stops short of calling for the IEA Board of Governors to report this issue to the U.N. Security Council. Does this mean that the United States will not press for referral at this week's board meeting?
MR. BOLTON: Senator, I can tell you, speaking personally as somebody who has been working to get the Iran matter referred to the Security Council for a year, that if I thought we could get it, we would do it. That's where it deserves to be. One gets in these G8 agreements the best one can get. In terms of what we expect out of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna this week, I can say, I think with some measure of confidence, we'll get a very strong resolution that deplores Iranian lack of cooperation with the IAEA, that stresses that Iran has to do more to meet its commitment to the three European countries to suspend --
SEN BIDEN: Will it deplore it enough to suspend the liquid natural gas investment agreement the Japanese and the French have reached?
MR. BOLTON: I can speak with respect to the Japanese agreement for the exploitation of the field at Azadagon (ph). They've got a clause in that that says that if the conclusion is the Iranians are continuing the pursuit of nuclear weapons, they have the ability to suspend that agreement. They have not yet reached that conclusion, although that is certainly our conclusion.
SEN BIDEN: Does that conclusion mean, if the conclusion is that they reach it, or if the conclusion that the board reaches it, or the conclusion that the Security Council reaches it.
MR. BOLTON: I don't know the specifics of the Azadagon(ph) deal, but that's the discussion we've had with the government of Japan. I regard the situation in Iran as an extremely important one that we have been trying measurably with Russia, with the European countries, and Japan, and I might say that what our diplomacy is aimed at is getting this matter to the Security Council.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Biden.
SEN. NELSON: Well, picking right up there on Senator Biden's questions about Iran. Does the strong statement that the G8 issued about Iran not being cooperative, does this statement signal an intent by the G8 to hold them accountable and support our efforts?
MR. BOLTON: I think, Senator, what it represents is a ratcheting up of the level of G8 agreement than what was achieved at the Evian Summit last year, where for the first time the G8 issued a statement on proliferation and specifically dealt with questions of North Korea and Iran. I think in the intervening year there has been a very substantial pattern of Iranian failure to comply with its obligations under its safeguards agreement, obstructing IAEA inspectors, withholding information and generally not being cooperative.
I think Director General al-Baradei made that point in a low key, but very clear way in his statement for the IAEA board of governors yesterday. We think that it is absolutely critical that the Iranian effort to achieve a nuclear weapons capability not succeed. And we have been in extensive diplomatic activity with all of the European countries involved, with Japan, and with Russia to do what we can do to get them to apply pressure to Iran. And I think the mixed cooperation, the limited cooperation that Iran has provided to the IAEA in the past year is due almost entirely to the level of international pressure that's been applied.
SEN. NELSON: Well, it looks like we were getting some progress going there, with the international pressure, but now it seems to have evaporated.
MR. BOLTON: I don't think it's evaporated. I think the Iranians are still on the defensive. I think they are feeling the pressure. You can see from their statements, their public statements, that they say quite regularly they have no intention of complying with the deal that they made with the United Kingdom, Germany, and France to suspend, and then ultimately decease uranium enrichment, and reprocessing. If they were to pull out of that deal, I think there would be almost no question but that we would be able to get this matter into the security council.
The Europeans have taken a different tactical view of how to handle the Iranian matter, and we have worked with them on that. I think the combined pressure that is reflected in the several resolutions, three to date that the IAEA board has passed, have had their effect. It hasn't gone far enough, more work needs to be done, there's no question about that.
SEN. NELSON: Does Iran have a rocket that will reach with a range to Israel?
MR. BROOKS: Senator, it does. It has a very extensive ballistic missile program.
SEN. NELSON: The answer to that is yes?
MR. BROOKS: The answer to that is yes.
SEN. NELSON: Therefore, if you put a nuclear weapon on the top of that rocket, you've got a problem?
MR. BROOKS: You're absolutely correct.
SEN. NELSON: We're got our hands full.
Mr. Chairman, since I have a little time left, let me ask you about North Korea. The G8 also issued a statement supporting the Six- Party Talks. Now, is this working?
MR. BROOKS: Well, as you know, Senator, the Six-Party Talks will reconvene in Beijing next week for their third session. Beginning with the meeting of the working group that was established at the second session in the first couple of days of the week, and then the plenary will meet July 23rd through 26th. We've been in preparatory discussions here in Washington this week with the Japanese and South Korean delegations, and are preparing for the discussions next week in Beijing. We have made a very extensive effort to make the Six-Party Talks work. We think this is the vehicle that-we have recognized the enormous effort that China has made in organizing these talks, and trying to see them through.
I think the ball at this point is in North Korea's court. We have, as you can see from the G8 statement, which reflects three of the parties in the Six-Party Talks, Russia, Japan, and the United States, agreement that we want the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. And the North Koreans have not yet acknowledged that they're going to have to meet that. But, we continue to pursue this. We're gearing up for it, as I say, and we'll make every effort to see if we can't make progress on that next week.
SEN. NELSON: Mr. Chairman, these are two countries of which the interest of world peace is enormously threatened. And it seems to me that one of the major foreign policy goals of our country ought to be, at the end of the day, those two countries cannot have a nuclear weapons capability. And, that's how I feel. And whatever you and Senator Biden can add to that, that we ought to suggest that would speed this process, because it's not-it doesn't seem like it's going forward, and sometimes it seems like it's going backwards in both of those countries.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Nelson. I'd respond to the senator that clearly is, and he's been active in these hearings, we're going to continue to talk about North Korea and Iran. These are extremely important situations. But today we're really in a comprehensive context discussing the dilemma that Senator Biden mentioned, and that is that people were able to produce at least the basis for a nuclear weapon but they couldn't produce the fissile material, thank goodness. And one of the key factors, at least on the nuclear side, has been control of that. And this is why, in a comprehensive sense, obviously, there are categories of countries that may have fissile material, but others that we now have an opportunity to work with to relieve that issue.
Now, I want to ask you, Secretary Brooks, Secretary Abraham's program, announced in Vienna, is a comprehensive program, as I understand it. He has tried to take a look at all of the laboratories and facilities in over two dozen countries that at some point or other may have received, through various humanitarian efforts, as-at that point nuclear powers said to other countries that we're not a part of the nuclear situation, that we will be helpful to you, with some of the breakthroughs that we've had. And some of the materials sent to these countries turned out to find they'd be highly enriched uranium, some not so bad, some spent fuel.
Why is the secretary's program ranging over several years of time? Now, I ask this not without the fact that budgets are difficult, that you tackle these things, but this is not like building college dormitories, one at a time in a grand master plan. Here we have a sense of urgency with regard to al Qaeda or terrorists getting their hands on fissile material, or even spent fuel, or whatever might be called for dirty bombs, quite apart from nuclearization. And why isn't the plan one in which this happens in a fairly short, tight time frame? Can you explain, if it's not going to happen, why not? And what could this committee do, or our colleagues, to tighten that time frame so in fact the world gets its hands on the material, secures it, makes it as certain as possible that proliferation does not occur from all these remote regions?
MR. BROOKS: Yes sir. Well, first of all, I want to stress that we do obviously have a sense of urgency. And that's why we took fuel back, fresh fuel back from Romania, Bulgaria and Libya within the last year.
The research reactors that are at issues are reactors that serve legitimate research purposes. And, at the time they were designed, they could only serve those purposes with fuel that is essentially highly enriched uranium. For about one-third of the existing reactors, that's still true. The United States, for example, had 22 such reactors. We've converted 11 of them and six more are scheduled for conversion. There are five where right now we don't have a design which will allow for research objectives to be met without LEU fuel, lower-enriched uranium fuel.
So, the first reason why it's going to take some time is that for some subset of these reactors, we've got our R&D channels-this is not a situation where there's something in a warehouse somewhere and all we have to demonstrate the will to go get it-this is a case where we have to provide a technology to convert (research reactor ?).
Secondly, there have been bureaucratic problems, and we've aired some of them in here.
Oh-I'm sorry. I so seldom need amplification, Senator. (Laughter.) I'm sorry.
Secondly, there have been bureaucratic problems. We just signed the agreement with the Russian Federation. Some of these research reactors originally came from Russian design, some from U.S. design, and the fuel will go back to the country where it belongs. The Russians have just-we've just signed the government-to-government agreement. The Russians are completing their equivalent of the environmental impact statement process. And, so we're pushing to expedite these things.
And then, obviously, we have to target the most vulnerable and most dangerous material first, so that, I think, it is-we expect to have all fresh fuel back to Russia by 2005. We expect to have all Russian spent fuel back by 2010. Some of that is just practicality. And so the way we deal with the sense of urgency is to focus on the most vulnerable material first, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, Ambassador, that's important for us to understand, as you're going to countries or facilities that presumably want to continue on their research. And so what you're saying is that we need to work with them to find a new design for their equipment that can somehow function on something other than highly enriched uranium --
MR. BROOKS: Yes sir.
SEN. LUGAR: -- nor relieve the (H ?) from them. And so that's a challenge, and you said there were still five situations in our own country require this kind of redesign.
I suppose that still, and the reason I ask the question is that there will be some close examination of that timetable. I appreciate 2005, 2010 as a reasonable time. But the reason we're discussing this in part, and why the president's gone into the PSI program and others is the urgency in the war against terrorism. You know, we are very hopeful that the terrorists, or whoever is out after this, will have the same patience and timetable as we have, and that we really cannot take for granted.
MR. BROOKS: And that's why-that's why it's also important in the interim to continue our efforts to improve security. One of the reasons people focus on research reactors is that they're inherently in academic settings where security isn't the first thing that people think of. And so we are also working, I referred to in my statement to our efforts to secure materials. Some of those materials are in fact materials that are stored at research reactors. So, we have to approach this problem on a variety of fronts.
SEN. LUGAR: Precisely. Now, in your statement, however, you point out a certainly percentage, that they each have some degree of security. And-but granted, we couldn't redesign the whole machine, and we could do the security more rapidly, could we not? And what-what is the hang-up there in terms of saying if there are 24 of these places, by golly, by the end of 2004 we've got security around it so they-it can't get out.
MR. BROOKS: Well, most of them will have. And, once again, the problem with this is we really have to look country-to country. Some, for example, of the U.S.-designed research reactors are in countries which have perfectly adequate security, security comparable to what we imply. That's why they tend to be at the end. But I think we are trying very hard to expedite both security, but more importantly getting the material back and the cores converted.
SEN. LUGAR: Are regular reports going to made of this? In other words, people like ourselves, who are deeply interested, as to how the benchmarks are being met, and whatever happens. From time-to-time, unless we have hearings of this variety and everybody comes up, why, it some how gets so lost in translation, but this is so important, what kind of reporting will you have?
MR. BROOKS: Well, we obviously have a good deal of internal reporting. I haven't-I had not until this moment thought about what the best way to make sure that appropriate committees of Congress were informed, but obviously we want to do that. Let me --
SEN. LUGAR: Well, let us work with you on that --
MR. BROOKS: -- let me take that away and figure out a good mechanism.
SEN. LUGAR: Yes. I think our-both of our staffs would like to do that --
MR. BROOKS: Yes sir.
SEN. LUGAR: -- try to have a working relationship so that at least we're cognizant of this and can commend it, you know, as it occurs. And I say this because we have had some difficulty legislatively over the last 10 years, as new members come into the Congress and they don't understand what all this is about, and they wonder why are we authorizing money and people and appropriations.
Until last year, as you know, because you were intimately involved for 10 years, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act money could not be spent beyond the confines of the former Soviet Union-almost as if spending it outside would be a disease that would spread. Now, we-now we have a situation, as a matter of fact, in which $50 million of the sum could be, hypothetically, spent somewhere else, but this is hardly adequate, given now the global reach the president is talking about, what you've been discussing with the G-8. And, granted, there are different committee jurisdictions.
You know, while we're thinking on benchmarks of what occurs with Secretary Abraham's problem, we need really to think together about the kind of financial requirements and the geographical requirements that we have to have in order to fight a global war against terrorism, not just something confined in the former Soviet Union.
MR. BROOKS: Mr. Chairman, I can assure you that if we find that we're being inhibited from doing what's right because of outdated legislation, we'll be vigorous in seeking to have those provisions changed. And, in fact, the example of spending CTR funds outside the former Soviet Union is an excellent example that will, for reasons I'd prefer not to go into in an open hearing --
SEN. LUGAR: Yes.
MR. BROOKS: -- (inaudible) --
SEN. LUGAR: Let me just say, we have been critical of the administration-let me commend the fact that that change would not have occurred without calls that were initiated by the president, executed by Condoleezza Rice, the secretaries of state and defense. You know, something that may be a no-brainer, that we ought to be able to spend money beyond the Soviet Union, took all of this horsepower, this was members of Congress who shall remain nameless, finally did the right thing.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you. I'd like to pursue that, if I may. And I realize that I'm a little pedantic here-if I could approach this like I think, you know, the average American, if focused on this would approach it.
I assume, Mr. Ambassador, you have somewhere within your office, and your extended office, a list of all the places we know where there is material, that if it were absconded, sold or stolen in some way-I'm being repetitious here-and got into the hands of the wrong people, could pose a danger to the United States, and there must be some comprehensive list, a little bit like, if I can think about it, you know, in an election we go down every precinct. We look at every single precinct in the state. We break it out into detail. The precincts are as small as five-seven hundred voters. And we break it all out. And then we go back and we prioritize, and we say, a little bit like you suggested, we say that, well, in some countries where we, the United States, were part of, participating in the project that produced the material, there is more adequate security than other places. So, I assume you rank them. You rank the most urgent threats. You know, there's a-there's a-if I can vastly oversimplify it-it's a little bit like when General Abizaid said there's 820,000 tons of munitions lying around Iraq, that in munition dumps that aren't guarded. I mean literally, no guards, no personnel, no anything-we fly a helicopter over it at night with night vision goggles to see who is going in and out.
So, I'm sure you have-well, I'm not sure-you do have that kind of comprehensive list?
MR. BROOKS: Yes.
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Now, number one-number two. Are they ranked or rated in orders of the greatest danger that they pose, in terms of the greatest risk?
MR. BROOKS: Yes. But that's not as precise a science as you might --
SEN. BIDEN: No, I'm just saying-but you may-again, I'm not questioning your judgment, you would know better than I-it may be a toss-up, you rate all of them, you know, that there's these 10 sites that are about, you know, about the same risk. I'm not suggesting that they have to be --
MR. BROOKS: They're ranked in priority, but priority covers not just risk but ability. For example, I prefer not to get into specific countries --
SEN. BIDEN: No.
MR. BROOKS: -- but there is a country that, for a long time, for a variety of reasons, has ranked quite high, but it is only recently that the political conditions have been, well-I'll take an obvious example-if we had been having this hearing a year ago, the research reactor fuel in Libya would rank very high on my priority list, but I wouldn't have been able to do anything about it. Now, we can and we have.
SEN. BIDEN: Right. Okay.
MR. BROOKS: So, it's a combination of the risk --
SEN. BIDEN: Access.
MR. BROOKS: -- and the ability.
SEN. BIDEN: And the access. Okay. Now, do you then, in addition to that, take these sites, both inside of Russia and outside of Russia, and do you have a sense of, purely from the security standpoint, what security measures had you access to the sites, you would recommend to the host country that they employ? Do you do that?
MR. BROOKS: Yes sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Is it that specific?
MR. BROOKS: Yes sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Now, then do you total up the amount of money that are required to do all the things that you would recommend be done to secure the material while we are working on whether we can-able to gain access to it, convert it, destroy it, possess it?
MR. BROOKS: Yes, but I'm not sure we do it in quite the systematic approach that you're suggesting. We have found-we have been urged frequently to provide a metric which would allow us and you to decide how to balance a dollar spent on security in Country X with a dollar spent on moving fuel back in Country Y. And we have had, while recognizing the desirability of that, we've had an extraordinary difficulty in convincing ourselves we know how to do that. So, I don't want to --
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I'm not asking that question. I'm not even asking that question, which is obviously a more complicated question, and a more complicated, to use your term, metrics, to figure out how that is. I just want to know-and what I'm driving at here is, there's very little liability, although some liability, risk, attendant to an American dollar being spent by hiring an American contractor, which is usually the case, to go to a Russian facility or a Ukranian facility and build a fence around the facility. We do things as simple as that, that people out here should know.
MR. BROOKS: First of all-first of all, if I may, Senator, most of the actual work, in part because of urging by Congress, and part because of the host nation, is done by host nationals, but I must say I do not believe that my colleagues in business would necessarily accept the view that going and operating in some of these countries doesn't expose them to liabilities.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, they may not, but I don't care what they think. Question is --
MR. BROOKS: (Inaudible) -- hire them, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: No, you know, look, some of the things, which I will not go into detail in this closed-this open hearing, there are some facilities we've actually seen and photographed, and you have discussed with us, and the chairman has reported on, that literally lack the most rudimentary security, the most rudimentary security. And what I'd like for the record is to ask the question, whether it's in a closed hearing or in an opening hearing, within the next month, for you to give us a listing of all the facilities worldwide that you think have security problems that you have identified. And to the extent that you have rated them, how you've rated them, and to the extent that you have a sense of-and you may not in all of them-what security would be required to enhance our sense of greater security, that it would be worth spending the money. And then, to-us to know what the cost associated with that would be.
Because one of the things I've found, and it's no different in your agency than it was in the FBI when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, they would come up and tell us that they had targeted all of these-not targeted, wrong expression-they had-they had observed the various-I'll go back 20 years-the various Cosa Nostra families, and these families, and they knew were doing what and how. Until I literally got them to come up and lay out on a piece of paper what is was, and what they would like to do, and how many agents it would require to focus, guess what?
We were only able to focus on nine percent of them. After it was over, we helped them out-we helped them out, once they identified them. We gave them all the money they need, and they hired enough agents to focus on all of them, because we ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. One of the things-just so you know-a sense I get, maybe not fair, is you all are not as excited about telling us what it would-if you had a blank slate-if I said to you, "You have all the money you need." You've got unlimited dollars, and you go out now and start, on the security side, to reach agreements-without any new liability agreement being reached-reach agreements with all those countries that have sites-what could you do if you had unlimited resources and unlimited manpower to do that?
Because I have no sense of this now-I mean-I have a foreboding sense of the degree of the exposure we have to risk. I have a foreboding sense of how many sites are really left not guarded very well at all in Russia, let alone around the world. And so I'd like to get my hands around that and maybe what I should do, Mr. Chairman, in order for your consideration is to more precisely formulate the question in writing so you'd know what I'm looking for here, so that we have a record, classified or otherwise, sitting here that we can look and say, "Okay, if, in fact"-because, look, the reason-I see the yellow light is on, and I'll end-the reason I say this is there is not an appreciation on the part of very informed men and women in both political in the Congress or the public at large as to the extent of our-in my view-the extent of our vulnerability that we face.
There is a generic sense out there in the public that when the wall came down, so did the threat of nuclear exchange. Therefore, the threat of a nuclear weapon being used or a nuclear material being engaged has diminished precipitously. Nobody in our constituency out there-for example, when you helped get that weapon that was-that I asked the laboratories to see if they could construct-you know how many senators showed up for the briefing? Four out of 100. Then I raised at a caucus, and it was raised in the Republican caucus, I think, I can't guarantee that, that we have another meeting, secure meeting. I even considered whether we should call for, which you are allowed to do, any senator can do-a closed hearing of the United States Senate for people to get a sense of this. A total of nine people showed up-nine-n-i-n-e. So this ain't just the administration or-not just-this is not people outside the Congress. Nine United States Senators actually took the time to come up, observe this weapon, and listen to the five leaders including the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
The heads of every single one of those agencies sat there in that room and, if I'm not mistaken, I think-maybe it wasn't even nine, it may have been only six or seven-and the senators who showed there were stunned. Their jaws dropped. The actually did, for example, with this weapon, and they showed us-I won't go into it-exactly how much fissile material; they showed us quan-they did a mock-up of the kind of fuel that would be needed and how much it weighed and how big in size it was and so on and so forth, and they said if you had this much fuel in this particular thing we have put together, you would have taken down the World Trade Towers, if I'm not mistaken, in, I think, it was four-f-o-u-r-seconds. And 100- and-some thousand people would have been killed, and they put up on a big screen, because of the prevailing winds what would have happened with the fireball that would have followed; the firestorm that would have occurred; the rest of Manhattan that would have burned; and plus the number of people. And they had this whole thing.
And I watched my colleagues, particularly-finally, to choose-not finally-the two senators from New York were there. I mean there were aga-I mean, it was, like-I watched the looks on their faces.
What I'm trying to get at here is there is not only not a sense of urgency sufficient, in my view, at the administration's level-there is not a sense of urgency here, either. And so I think we need specifics; I think we need detail to be able to say, "Look, this facility"-and I'll conclude with this, Mr. Chairman-until you laid out for the President of the United States, in graphic detail, a particular facility-is it southwest of Moscow-I think it's southwest of Moscow-that if 1 million 900-and-some-thousand artillery shells in that facility-until the chairman-and I guess I was a bit of an instigator-laid out in detail, physically how they sat in Iraq, how big they were, what damage they could do, what security rested around that facility-and the president, at one point, looked up at Dr. Rice and said-looked around the chairman, who was sitting on the couch, and said, "Is that true?" Well, actually, let me be more precise-without inflection-he said, "Is that true?" And Dr. Rice said, "Yes." And the vice president said, "Well, that may be fungible money," you know, the argument that is made, you know, if we do that and help the Russians build a facility to get rid of those artillery shells, they may do other bad things or something-and the president sat and listened. You could see it register in his eyes. In two weeks-I think it was about two weeks, all of a sudden, the money was made available.
We need a sense of urgency here, because me, personally; my family, specifically; my grandchildren, surely-they're really at risk, and it ain't going to be from an intercontinental ballistic missile fired from North Korea.
MR. BROOKS: Senator, may make --
SEN. BIDEN: I'll formulate the question. I yield the floor, and I'm happy to hear your response.
MR. BROOKS: First, we do have such an assessment. We'll be happy to provide it to you as long as you let me provide it in a classified form. For fairly obvious reasons, we're not interested in an unclassified assessment of where it would be interesting to go look for poor security.
SEN. BIDEN: With the Chairman's permission, I wondered whether we might be able, in the next week, set up something where any of the members of this committee who are-I'm happy to do it all by myself, but others may be interested as well.
MR. BROOKS: We are at the disposal of either you, personally, or the Chair and the committee.
SEN. BIDEN: I thank you, Mr. Brooks.
MR. BROOKS: I do want to make a point about sense of urgency-in long, complex problems, the people who are doing them always think they're going faster than the people who are watching them think they are, and I recognize that, and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. But I want to say in the strongest possible terms that I detect, within my colleagues and the administration, both at senior levels and particularly within my own department, no lack of urgency. And I believe that we are seized with the problem for exactly the reason you mention. It's not to say there aren't ways we can do it better, but I do not believe it's an accurate assessment that there's no sense of urgency.
SEN. BIDEN: I take that at its face. In full disclosure, this Congress is not seized with the same sense of urgency, in my view, and we may need some help in seizing them. We may need some help, because apparently we share the same degree of sense of urgency.
MR. BROOKS: Your example of what can be done if you had the material is right, and I can show you more examples, and it would terrify you.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.