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Panel I of a Hearing of the House Committee on Int. Rel.-The Bush Administration and Non-Proliferation: A New Strategy Emerges

Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service March 30, 2004 Tuesday
Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

March 30, 2004 Tuesday







REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL): The committee will come to order.

We live in a world and in a city where rumblings of warning blend into a familiar background, where fluency in the language of crises is widely shared, where doomsayers and Cassandras readily ply their trade. Some alarms are of an immediate nature and are drawn from the empirical world; others are distilled from more abstract projections. But I can think of no scenario more frightening, more disastrous, than that of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, of which nuclear weapons are the transcendent example.

Few would disagree that combating this threat must be among our highest national priorities. And yet that resolution has not always been matched by concrete action.

I speak here not as a partisan, for the successes and failures in this area can be widely distributed among parties, factions, individuals, and schools of thought. But none would maintain that all that could be done, all that should be done to avert this unparalleled disaster, has in fact been done.

Over the decades, a number of policies, actions, programs, and efforts have been advanced to address the many challenges of this hydra-headed problem. The collective result of these labors constitutes an enormous success, but, nevertheless, our current defenses remain far from perfect. And yet our goal must be perfection, for our vessel is a leaky one, where even a single hole can be an opening to the Apocalypse.

Our regime of safeguards has taken shape in piecemeal fashion, often in a reactive response to correct problems that have been unexpectedly unearthed. Perhaps the best example is the revelation, in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, of the scale of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs, including the bone- chilling discovery that his nuclear ambitions were within an estimated six months from being realized. This and other providential discoveries underscored the gross inadequacy of the existing inspection procedures and led to the crafting of the so-called Additional Protocol, which mandates far more intrusive measures than those of the original Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But even these much-strengthened measures cannot compensate for other fatal shortcomings which may become evident only in retrospect. The sudden and recent exposure of Iran's longstanding efforts to acquire a nuclear capability, and its success in assembling key elements of a weapons program, have once again demonstrated the harvest of deadly consequences that complacency may sow.

This being an election year, the contest is joined on all fronts. To its detractors, this administration has been guilty of any number of sins in its foreign policy, a criticism that sometimes extends to the limits of geography and propriety. However, what I find most surprising is that little or no attention has been devoted by either detractors or supporters to what is undeniably a major success, namely the crafting of an innovative, comprehensive, and-this is of crucial importance-action-oriented strategy of preemptive nonproliferation.

Methodically, piece-by-piece, the Administration has reinvented the nonproliferation regime it inherited, crafting policies to fill gaping holes, reinforcing earlier patchwork fixes, assembling allies, creating precedents, setting new limits, changing perceived realities. It's an enormous achievement, worthy of universal praise. And it's still building.

To this administration must go the credit for many long-delayed but indispensable actions to reverse our slide toward the chasm. I will cite only a couple of examples, with counter-trafficking measures taking pride of place.

Among the most prominent innovations is the Proliferation Security Initiative, the cooperative arrangement among a growing number of countries that is aimed at taking direct action to intercept the illegal transshipment of weapons of mass destruction weapons, components and materials. This is a muscular enhancement of our ability to halt trafficking in the components of these weapons. I confess that once it was announced, my immediate response was, "Why weren't we doing this thirty years ago?" Nevertheless, I am very thankful that it is being done at last.

Despite this program's infancy, there have already been notable successes. It was the interception of a vessel loaded with nuclear components for Libya that helped convince Qadhafi that the days of his undisturbed accumulation of the instrument of destructions were over.

Much attention has been focused on the revelations of the stunningly extensive nature of the trafficking in nuclear technology and materials by members of Pakistan's nuclear programs. These revelations, combined with invaluable information from Libya's program, have torn the cover from the international black market in nuclear technology and know-how, which, prior to this inside information, had been only sketchily understood.

What's usually overlooked, however, is the administration's success in persuading the leaders of Pakistan to take active measures to interrupt the proliferation of nuclear materials and assistance that has metastasized unchecked from that country for many years. We're now in the process of unraveling that network and preventing the horrors its commerce would otherwise bring into being.

Despite its caricatured image of being oblivious to potential support from the international community, the administration will shortly announce success in its efforts to prod the U.N. to greater endeavors in nonproliferation, having crafted what is likely to be a unanimous resolution by the Security Council mandating that all member countries adopt effective measures to prevent the illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction-related goods, with the prospect of establishing universal adherence to these rules.

There are many other elements deserving mention. I'll refrain from doing so in order to focus on the central innovation which I believe is indispensable for any successful nonproliferation effort, namely the demonstrated credibility of action, for this represents nothing less than a transforming precedent.

Now making the rounds is the view that the United States has lost credibility around the world due to our policy in Iraq. I suggest the exact opposite is true: We, in fact, have gained enormous, immensely valuable and even decisive credibility from our actions there. For the next time the U.S., or at least this president, warns some foreign despot to cease actions that we believe are threatening to our security, my hunch is that he'll listen, and he'll listen carefully. The fact that we went into Iraq virtually alone, excepting our courageous partner Great Britain, not only without the sanction of the international community but in blunt defiance of its strenuous efforts to stop us, is far from the ruinous negative it is often portrayed as. In fact, it's all to the good, for it is unambiguous proof that absolutely nothing will deter us, that the entire world arrayed against us cannot stop us. The message on those on the receiving end couldn't be clearer, and unless they're suicidal, they'll understand that their options have been radically narrowed.

This isn't theory. Already, the administration has won another victory in Muammar Qadhafi's decision to surrender his weapons of mass destruction programs in direct consequence of our actions in Iraq. And it's a powerful precedent, for the-it's the first time that a state has surrendered these weapons without a regime change. If Qadhafi makes good on his promise, and if we can in confidence readmit him fully to the international community, the effect on others cannot but be salutary. For we can then offer offenders a stark choice of the sword or the olive branch, of destruction or the rewards of cooperation, with all ambiguity torn away, and thereby refocus their cold calculations of self-interest away from ambition and toward survival.

Our intervention in Iraq has made this seminal message both possible and credible for the first time. Can anyone cognizant of the threats we face doubt its value?

The benefits of this new mode of interaction are evident in the current stand-off with Iran. The recent and unexpected exposure of Iran's massive nuclear weapons program has startled that regime into a hastily constructed policy of stalling and superficial cooperation. Only a fool would believe that the Iranians will voluntarily abandon their nuclear ambitions, but their coerced cooperation has been helpfully motivated by their fear of U.S. action against them. Here as well, Iran's adherence to the deal it cut with Britain, France and Germany for a suspension of its programs has been made more likely by the existence of the U.S. threat, a source of real-world leverage that even the Europeans privately acknowledge to be useful. That situation is far from resolved, but does anyone actually believe that the possibility of halting Iran's march would even exist without Saddam's sobering example?

None of this has been lost on the North Korean regime. Our demonstrated willingness to use force to remove a threat, paired with the possibility of reward for cooperation, provides the decision- makers in Pyongyang with useful instruction in the rules of this new world. Once again, this bracketing of the regime's options was made possible by our actions in Iraq.

Clearly, the administration's actions regarding non-proliferation are of a sweeping nature. But even with all that has been done, much more remains, as the administration is the first to point out. In his recent speech, the president laid out an agenda listing several areas in which additional action is urgently needed, including addressing the proliferation problems inherent in countries seeking to acquire the complete nuclear fuel cycle and the need for expanded export controls worldwide, among others. Some of these problems have no ready solution and will require increased attention. Each of these many actions and policies should be celebrated in themselves. But their true importance emerges only when they are arrayed together and seen as a whole, for they demonstrate the extraordinary effort by this administration to craft and put in place a far-seeing, comprehensive and action-oriented strategy focused not merely on the limited task of defense, but on preempting our annihilation.

Of course, the administration inherited some very valuable initiatives, such as the Nunn-Lugar program that continues our massive effort to secure the vast weapons of mass destruction arsenal left in the wreckage of the Soviet empire. But its strategy moves well beyond merely embracing and modifying this inheritance to aspiring to nothing less than a dramatic and ambitious reinvention that seeks to address all areas of this fatal menace, and to do so for the first time. If there is fault to be had with this administration in this area, it is that they have been remiss in not shouting their success from the rooftops.

Action long dreamed of is finally being taken, but there is much more to do. We must make up for decades of stillborn plans, of wishful thinking, of irresponsible passivity. We're already late, but we are no longer bystanders wringing our hands and hoping that somehow we will find shelter from gathering threats, no longer dispirited by difficult problems that have no immediate answer, no longer waiting for some international court to issue a reluctant warrant or grudging permission to allow us to take measures to protect ourselves.

This president has begun to lay the foundation for a comprehensive, multi-layered, root-and-branch approach to the mortal danger of the proliferating instruments of our destruction. A global system of overlapping levels of international, multilateral, and unilateral measures is being erected, each using different tools and methods, but all sharing a common purpose: the putting in place of a strategy of preemptive non-proliferation.

We are only at the beginning, but it is an extraordinary beginning. Everyone in this room, everyone in this country, owes this administration thanks for the fact that we are not only meeting this ultimate of threats on the field, but we are advancing on it, battling not only aggressively, but successfully. For the outcome of this battle may be nothing less than a chance to survive.

I now turn to my friend and colleague Tom Lantos for such remarks as he may wish to make.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first commend you for holding this very important hearing.

REP. HYDE: Of course.

REP. LANTOS: I also want to welcome the distinguished secretary who has contributed so much to our national security.

Mr. Chairman, Libya's decision to give up its nuclear weapons development program has made an unprecedented contribution to the security of the Middle East and North Africa, and to a broader region. The potentially destabilizing presence of nuclear weapons in Libya is no longer a threat. But perhaps more importantly, the documents and materials turned over by Tripoli to the United States brought to light the shadowy truth behind the massive international nuclear black market.

Using this evidence, we were finally able to prove that Pakistan was the key player in the international nuclear trade. Using this black market, the leadership of Iran, North Korea and other rogue regimes aggressively pursued their nuclear ambitions at the expense of international stability and American national security.

As a result of these profound and eye-opening developments, the administration recently announced seven proposals to begin the process of shutting down the nuclear black market. While I am pleased with this interest in non-proliferation policy, it is somewhat disconcerting that this important initiative is being launched three, four years into the administration's tenure, particularly since we have known from day one that non-proliferation policy had to be a top national security priority.

I'm also troubled somewhat that these latest proposals are somewhat vague and undefined, when clarity and action are required. Nevertheless, it is critical that we move forward aggressively on these and other non-proliferation initiatives, because we must encourage Iran and North Korea and Syria to follow Libya's path.

Mr. Chairman, the acceleration of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs over the last several years is appalling. They have received much of their equipment and technology from the same nuclear black market that supplied Libya with equipment and nuclear weapons designs. And all of this occurred despite the carefully-constructed system of deterrence put in place by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Mr. Chairman, how do we reform the incentives and the sanctions of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime so that they not only prevent new Irans and North Koreas, but also move these countries to roll back and to eliminate their nuclear programs?

First, the international community must immediately take stronger action against countries such as Iran that are abusing the right to peaceful nuclear energy, even when such action imposes some cost and lost investment opportunities. We must make it clear to such countries that they have forfeited the right to produce nuclear material for reactors, and they must be deprived of new nuclear- related trade, investment and trade agreements until they permanently and verifiably cease all suspect nuclear activities and dismantle any fuel production facilities.

To address the new nuclear black market, the United States and other countries must toughen their export control laws to sanction individuals, banks, corporations-foreign and domestic-for engaging in trade in nuclear-related equipment and materials. I'm gratified that the United States has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution that asks for such measures.

Mr. Chairman, I'm putting the finishing touches on legislation that I will introduce shortly entitled Nuclear Black Market Elimination Act which updates U.S. laws to make the environment less permissive for people or companies who deal in the nuclear black market. My bill will empower the president to halt all U.S. business and financial transactions with any individual or company that engages in black market nuclear trade, and reports on foreign companies that undercut U.S. sanctions. This legislation will offer assistance to countries to improve their export controls and monitor nuclear trade activities of their citizens and corporations.

Mr. Chairman, we must expand the proliferation security initiative launched by the administration in order to increase its effectiveness. The administration needs to work overtime to negotiate a new treaty at the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, to give the global community the ability to interdict shipments of suspected weapons of mass destruction in international waters or airspace.

We have pursued bilateral agreements, but we need to move beyond that level. The threat posed to the international community by the nuclear black market is clear. The United States must take every possible action before or our allies suffer the unimaginable consequences of letting the world's most dangerous weapons fall into the wrong hands. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. HYDE: Let me commend to the people listening an op-ed article in today's San Francisco Chronicle on this subject, non- proliferation, written by Tom Lantos, an invaluable asset to this committee.

The chair will entertain opening statements-hopefully brief-and I understand Mr. Sherman has been waiting. Mr. Sherman?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I sought out my position as the ranking member on the Non-proliferation Subcommittee, because I believe those are the most important issues that face our country.

I join you, Mr. Chairman, in praising the administration for an aggressive approach to protecting the United States from terrorism and proliferation. But the administration is using the wrong tactics against the wrong targets. There's been this discussion of weapons of mass destruction, but let's be clear it is nuclear weapons that dwarf everything else. And the programs of Iran and North Korea dwarf anything Saddam Hussein ever envisioned. We need to go after the right targets, and the tactics ought to be to use our very powerful economic situation, and to use it aggressively. Unfortunately, the administration has been all too willing to risk American lives and to use our very effective military; but utterly unwilling to use tactics that might inconvenience corporations or our trading partners.

As to Korea, North Korea, that government relies on subsidized energy and other aid from the Chinese regime. The Chinese regime would prefer that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program, but is unwilling to do anything very substantive-except to hold talks-and we will talk, and we will talk and we will talk until the "mushroom cloud" interrupts those talks, as Condoleezza Rice might say.

But we have been unwilling to hint to China that just maybe a slight portion of their $130 billion access to our markets might be imperilled for a day, as long as they insist on continuing to subsidize North Korea. We're willing to risk the lives of our troops, but not one container of tennis shoes.

Likewise, when it comes to Iran, the secretary of State sat where Secretary Bolton is sitting right now, and told this committee he would investigate the fact that we allow $150 million of non-energy imports into this country from Iran. And yet it seems we're unwilling to tell American gourmets that they might have to make do with Russian caviar. And the caviar from Iran keeps coming here, whether Iran develops nuclear weapons or not.

More economically significantly, Japan was going to lend and invest $2.8 billion in Iran. We objected. Then they sent 550 troops to Iraq. An administration, a public and a press absolutely preoccupied with Iraq, said, "Oh, isn't that wonderful? We're getting 550 troops." And as a result, it appears as if the United States has given the green light to send $2.8 billion to the nation who is most likely to be the culprit if a nuclear weapon is smuggled into the United States.

And Secretary Bolton, I will be wanting to ask you about the quotation in the Kyoto World News Service quoting you as saying, "I'm not concerned about the decision of Japan" to send $2.8 billion to this country that is developing nuclear weapons and, as I said, could very well smuggle them into American cities.

We can stop World Bank loans to Iran. We can stop this Japanese investment in Iran. We can enforce the 'I' in ILSA with the same effectiveness as we've enforced the 'L' in ILSA, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. Those sanctions were successful with Qhadafi. They can be successful with Teheran, but only if we are willing to risk our trade relationships with the same level of aggressiveness that we have risked American lives. And until corporate power can be enlisted and corralled and told that sometimes there's more important things than profits, sometimes there's more important things than trade, we will continue to go day by day, telling the world that America is safer because Saddam is not in power and having years go by while Iran and North Korea make further steps in developing nuclear weapons.

I yield back, and I thank the chairman.

REP. HYDE: Mr. Sherman.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you. Condoleezza Rice told us that the first sign that an enemy has a nuclear weapon could be a mushroom cloud, or if that mushroom cloud occurs, it probably will be from a nuclear weapon from Iran or North Korea. A big chunk of the blame has got to go to the American people and the American press, who have been so obsessed with Iraq, at the invitation of the administration, that they failed to notice that Iran and North Korea are the countries that are hostile to us that are developing nuclear weapons. And so an administration desperate for reelection will take 550 soldiers from Japan, which provide the veneer of international support and credibility for our relations in Iraq, which is the preoccupation of the electorate, and give the green light to $2.8 billion going from Japan to Iran.

Mr. Secretary-and I alluded to this in my opening statement, you are quoted as-under the headline of "Washington untroubled by Teheran-Tokyo oil contract" of saying you're just not concerned with this $2.8 billion. Let me give you a chance to express what concerns you have. Is it just find that $2.8 billion is going from Japan to a government that would smuggle nuclear weapons into our cities if they thought they could get away with it?

MR. BOLTON: Could I first address the point about whether we're desperate for reelection? I really-I don't-you know-I don't --

REP. SHERMAN: But perhaps-why-well, what else would explain the green light?

MR. BOLTON: -- engage in politics at the State Department.

REP. SHERMAN: Maybe you're not desperate for reelection, but why the green light to $2.8 billion going from Japan to Iran?

MR. BOLTON: I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that our policies at the State Department are not directed with partisan or political objectives in mind. I think --

REP. SHERMAN: You know, the prior administration rolled over on all this stuff, too. You're in good company.

MR. BOLTON: Okay. To come to your question. To come to your question.

REP. SHERMAN: (Inaudible) --

REP. HYDE: Would the gentleman yield for a brief second?


REP. HYDE: Does the gentleman agree that an appropriate amount of anthrax could kill as many people as a nuclear bomb?

REP. SHERMAN: I think the capacity to deploy such anthrax on a practical basis is nil. The use of anthrax has killed perhaps a dozen people. The use of nuclear weapons has killed hundreds of thousands. And I do not see anthrax as anywhere close to the risk-it is a risk-I mean, in terms of the likelihood of it killing a hundred people, or a thousand people, it could happen.

REP. HYDE: A couple of envelopes get delivered up here on the Hill and everything shuts downs.

REP. SHERMAN: Shutting down the Congress is one thing, eliminating a city from the face of the earth is something else. We have had to endure one, let's hope we don't have to endure the other and weigh the difference between the two.

REP. HYDE: We could go on and on, but thank you for yielding.

MR. BOLTON: Now, the answer to --

REP. SHERMAN: So-so let me stipulate-you stated that the administration believes in enforcing the law, but both you and your predecessors have never used ILSA to impose sanctions-not on Total (sp), which is investing in Iran now, not on the Japanese, where, you wouldn't even have to impose them, you would just have to express disapproval and they would pull back. The attitude has been shovel the money to Iran and bomb Iraq.

MR. BOLTON: Well, I don't agree with that, obviously. I would say that the-that the policy on ILSA enforcement has been essentially continuous between the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Now, on the subject of Japan-the transaction that you're referring to involves the Azadegan oil field in Iran, and the administration I think had made it clear privately to the government of Japan and it made it clear publicly that it opposed the Azadegan oil deal and had urged the government of Japan not to proceed with it. The government of Japan did decide to proceed with it, and in the context of the announcement of that decision, I said in Tokyo that although we had made our position on the deal clear, that I was confident that the Japanese position on non-proliferation was not at risk, despite that deal. And I believe that --

REP. SHERMAN: Well, wait a minute. Why would anybody in Iran care about a Japanese position on proliferation if they say, "Here's the $2.8 billion and here's a letter urging you not to develop a nuclear weapon," other than creating excessive laughter in Teheran, what would that note accomplish? The $2.8 billion is on its way, and it's on its way not because Japan overrid strong administrative opposition, because you smiled, you winked, you said you weren't concerned. And we know and you know that Japan would not go forward with this deal if you had raised a high level of opposition.

MR. BOLTON: Well, we did raise a high level of opposition. And it's not --

REP. SHERMAN: And then they sent their 550 soldiers and then you lowered your level of opposition.

MR. BOLTON: Absolutely not true. I think the treatment, as you yourself have said, of the Japanese agreement in principle on Azadegan is consistent with treatment of European firms that announced deals in Iran during the late 1990s.

The point that I was making and the point that I think has been borne out at the subsequent meeting of the IAEA board of governors is that Japan, along with Canada and Australia, together with the United States, took the firmest positions against the activities in the nuclear field that --

REP. SHERMAN: Oh, so we get a strongly-worded letter along with the $2.8 billion.

MR. BOLTON: You know, I take it, Congressman, that the efforts that we're making multilaterally in the IAEA board of governors to refer the Iranian nuclear weapons program to the United Nations Security Council are efforts that you support.

REP. SHERMAN: I'm not sure that we've officially asked for such a referral.

MR. BOLTON: Yes, we have.

REP. SHERMAN: And it is fine that you're willing to do everything possible to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons as long as it doesn't inconvenience a single corporation.

MR. BOLTON: No, no. I really take issue with that. I mean, I think it's important here we talk about what we're doing in the IAEA, because the administration, as you know, is frequently accused of being unilateralist. And here's a case ---

REP. SHERMAN: Oh, no, no, no.

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Mr. Bolton and Mr. Sherman, we're already past two minutes, but --

MR. BOLTON: -- where we are working in the IAEA --

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: -- we'll wrap up the exchange.

MR. BOLTON: We are working in the IAEA. We need the support. We need the diplomatic support of Japan and others. And I hope you would join with us in encouraging the Japanese to continue to support these multilateral efforts.

REP. SHERMAN: I would encourage --

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Sherman. Mr. Weller.


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