Testimony by Project Director Joseph Cirincione before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, United States Senate, March 21, 2000

Thank you for the privilege of testifying before the Committee. My testimony is based on a new book I have just edited, Repairing the Regime: Preventing the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. It will be published in late April jointly by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Routledge. It is an honor to discuss these issues with you today.

By way of background, I served for nine years on the professional staff of the House Armed Services Committee and the Government Operations Committee, beginning in 1985. My duties included tracking and analyzing developments in nuclear and ballistic missile programs and nuclear policy issues. I continued this analytical work during four years as a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington and now for two years in my current position at the Carnegie Endowment.


The first post-Cold War decade was in many ways a period of progress and global growth. The world’s population grew 10 percent to 6 billion people. The American economy enjoyed its longest peacetime expansion ever, with the Dow Jones industrial average rocketing from 2600 to almost 12,000. Many other economies also prospered, as Asian countries expanded, crashed, and rebounded. Not coincidentally, the world’s nations now spend 30 to 40 percent less on defense than they did during the Cold War, despite several major regional conflicts. Computers increased exponentially in speed, cell phones multiplied even faster, and the Internet grew from a backup system for nuclear war to an indispensable global network linking students, experts, and nations. It was a remarkable decade for the sciences, particularly astronomy, as space- and ground-based instruments extended our vision closer to the far edges of the universe and the beginning of time.

In one crucial area, though, the past decade failed to live up to expectations. The threat of the mass destruction of human beings by the most heinous weapons ever invented still haunts world capitals and vexes military and political leaderships. During the 1990s, fears that some group or nation would use internationally banned biological or chemical weapons actually increased. United Nations inspectors after the 1991 Persian Gulf War discovered that Iraq had assembled hundreds of weapons filled with VX and sarin nerve gas and two dozen others with biological agents, including anthrax, botulinum toxin, and aflatoxin. The 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo led some experts to warn of future "super-terrorism" battles. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen calls it "a grave new world of terrorism--a world in which traditional notions of deterrence and counter-response no longer apply."

Other experts caution that the media and fictional novels have exaggerated the chemical and biological weapon threats. Few can ignore, however, the brooding presence of the mountain of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials that still fill global arsenals. As the new millennium begins, eight nations possess almost 32,000 nuclear bombs containing 5,000 megatons of destructive energy. The equivalent of about 416,000 Hiroshima-size bombs, this global arsenal is more than sufficient to destroy the world.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the danger is no longer a global thermonuclear war. Americans do not fear thousands of Soviet warheads screaming over the Pole; nor do Russians worry about volleys of American warheads pulverizing their nation. However, there remains a very real danger that nuclear, biological or chemical weapons will be used in smaller--but still horrifically deadly--numbers. Whether delivered in the cargo hold of a ship, the belly of an airplane or the tip of a missile, the use of just one modern thermonuclear weapon would be the most catastrophic event in recorded history. A 1-megaton bomb would destroy fifty square miles of an urban area, killing or seriously injuring one to two million people. Even a smaller, more portable device of 100 kilotons (eight times larger than the Hiroshima bomb but small by today’s standards) would result in a radiation zone twenty to forty miles long and two to three miles wide in which all exposed persons would receive a lethal dose of radiation within six hours.

It is not difficult to find official expressions of concern about the mounting proliferation problems.

  • President Clinton on several occasions has cited "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the means of delivering such weapons."
  • Secretary of Defense William Cohen said, "Of the challenges facing the Department of Defense in the future, none is greater or more complex than the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction."
  • Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted, "The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the single most pressing threat to our security." She and then-Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov agreed at the 1998 ASEAN summit that non- proliferation was the "premier security issue of the post-Cold War period."
  • Lieutenent General Patrick Hughes, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, concluded bluntly in his annual testimony to Congress, "The proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, missiles, and other key technologies remains the greatest direct threat to U.S. interests worldwide."
  • In January 1992, the member states of the United Nations Security Council declared that the spread of weapons of mass destruction constituted a "threat to international peace and security." Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizes the Security Council to impose economic sanctions or to use military force to counter such threats.

One might expect that the response would be to redouble efforts to stop the spread of these deadly weapons, including the ratification of treaties and agreements to prevent and reduce the threats. In fact, the reverse is occurring.

The Non-Proliferation Regime

The first and strongest line of defense against the spread or use of weapons of mass destruction remains the non-proliferation regime--an interlocking network of treaties, agreements, and organizations. Centered around a series of treaties including the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological Weapons Convention, the regime is buttressed by numerous multilateral and bilateral agreements, norms and arrangements.

The non-proliferation regime has been built over the past fifty years by many nations, but almost always with the leadership of the United States. It has grown most quickly and most surely when both major U.S. political parties shared in the construction. The initiatives of one president or Congress would often be fulfilled by the next, regardless of party affiliation. Over these decades, Republican presidents have often led the efforts, as described below.

Now, a series of crises has shaken confidence in the regime. It urgently needs repair and revitalization but suffers from inattention and the mutual mistrust of many of its members. As we enter the new century, concerns with missile and nuclear programs in North Korea, Iran, and Iraq remain unresolved; the slow-motion arms race in South Asia keeps both nations intent on deploying nuclear weapons; Russia--the world’s largest warehouse of nuclear weapons, materials and expertise--spirals in economic decline; China modernizes its nuclear arsenal, Japan partners with the United States in missile defense, and the three nations link with the Koreas, Taiwan, India, and Pakistan to form an Asian nuclear reaction chain that vibrates dangerously with each nation’s defense deployments. Meanwhile, international negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty review sessions drift inconclusively. The U.S. Senate delivered a stunning rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty three years after it was signed; and it appears that President Clinton may complete his eight years in office without signing a single strategic nuclear reductions treaty, as compared with the two his predecessor signed during his four-year term.

My testimony concentrates on nuclear proliferation, but increasingly the once distinct areas of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons proliferation form an integrated whole. Developments in one area--good or bad--inevitably reverberate throughout the system. As I detail the overall proliferation trends and the state of global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, it may help illuminate one of central issues now much in debate: Is it military might or "pieces of paper" that best ensure national security?

The Regime Works

The need for military counters to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains a necessary condition of international affairs. Certainly, the threat of devastating retaliation helps deter the use of these weapons. Today, conventional forces alone threaten national destruction on a scale that few leaders would risk. Nations also have a variety of counterforce options deployed and in development to strike mass destruction weapons, launchers, and facilities before they can be used. Finally, should all else fail, a third line of active missile defenses might provide some protection. Missile defenses, however, have a dual nature. While they promise an alluring technological solution to one type of mass destruction delivery system, mere talk of their introduction stimulates the very arsenals they hope to deter. Whatever their shortcomings, military defenses are essential elements of a successful non-proliferation strategy.

Historically, the non-proliferation regime has one great factor in its favor: It works. Not even the most fervent advocate would claim the regime works perfectly, and there exists a long line of experts ready to discuss in detail the flaws in the regime.

Nonetheless, since its birth in the 1960s, the non-proliferation regime has, if not prevented, at least greatly restricted, the spread of mass destruction weapons. President John F. Kennedy worried in the early 1960s that while only the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France then possessed nuclear weapons, fifteen or twenty nations could obtain them by the end of the decade. However, with determined bipartisan presidential efforts and global cooperation, only China had joined the ranks of the five recognized nuclear-weapon states by 1970.

Fifteen years ago, experts and governments warily eyed the nuclear proliferation risks posed by the top ten states of concern: India, Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, Libya, South Korea, and Taiwan. Today, three of these (South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil) have abandoned their nuclear-weapon programs, two (South Korea and Taiwan) would be a risk only if their regional situation sharply deteriorates, one (Libya) is of moderate concern, one (Iraq) remains of high concern, and three (India, Pakistan, and Israel) now have nuclear weapons. There are other states that bear watching, but over the past fifteen years only two other nations of high concern must be added to the list: North Korea and Iran, for a total of seven countries remaining on the active nuclear proliferation "watch list."

At the same time, the governments have used the instruments of the regime on a number of fronts with impressive results. Perhaps the most historically significant is the successful denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan (after those new nations had inherited thousands of nuclear weapons from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991) and the implementation of the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Cooperative Threat Reduction programs in the states of the former Soviet Union. These programs provide, for example, financial and technical assistance to help the states of the former Soviet Union fulfill their obligations under the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). For the cost of one B-2 bomber ($2.5 billion over the last seven years) these programs have funded the deactivation of 4,838 nuclear warheads and the elimination of 387 nuclear ballistic missiles, 343 ballistic missile silos, 136 nuclear submarine launch tubes, and 49 long-range nuclear bombers in the former Soviet Union.

On other diplomatic fronts, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty eliminated an entire class of missiles from the arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union (846 U.S. and 1,846 Soviet missiles, including the modern Pershing II and SS-20 systems). UNSCOM inspectors in Iraq uncovered and verified the destruction of far more biological and chemical weapons and facilities than were destroyed in the massive bombing and ground assaults of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Agreed Framework with North Korea, for all its problems, is successfully containing and perhaps reversing a nuclear weapons program that threatened to plunge the Korean peninsula into war in 1994. A Council on Foreign Relations Task Force concluded, "The Agreed Framework stands as the major bulwark against a return to the kind of calamitous military steps the United States was forced to consider in 1994 to stop North Korea’s nuclear program."

Meanwhile, South Africa dismantled its arsenal of six clandestine nuclear devices in the early 1990s and joined the NPT and the African Nuclear Free Zone. Algeria flirted with a secret nuclear program but renounced such ambitions and joined the NPT in 1995. Argentina and Brazil formalized the end of their nuclear programs by acceding to the NPT in 1995 and 1998, respectively.

The regime has sustained serious setbacks and defeats; there may very well be more in the near future; and there remains a distinct possibility of a catastrophic collapse of the regime. Overall, however, the treaty regime has done a remarkable job of checking the unrestricted global proliferation Kennedy feared.

A Global Leadership, Now Divided

The regime is a true international effort. Large states and small have all played crucial roles. Ireland, for example, introduced the United Nations resolution in 1961 that began the negotiations for the Non-Proliferation Treaty. South Africa played a key role in the extension and strengthening of the NPT in 1995, and Australia was instrumental in securing the successful negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. States capable of making nuclear weapons but who have eschewed their development, such as Canada, Sweden, South Africa, and Brazil, are critical to efforts to forge a new agenda for the regime.

The United States, however, plays a unique role. While some demonize it as the source of many of the regime’s problems, the United States remains the one nation in the world with the resources, status, and potential leadership capable of galvanizing international nonproliferation efforts. That leadership role has always been strongest when it has enjoyed the support of both major political parties. The relative inability of the United States to lead now can be traced in large part to the fierce partisan divide that characterizes American politics at the turn of the century.

The proliferation policy debates of the past few years have been heavily influenced by calls from influential members of the U.S. Congress for increases in military spending, for more resolute opposition to arms control treaties, and for the rapid deployment of new weapons systems, particularly missile defenses.

Numerous senators, for example, argued in the days after the South Asian nuclear tests for a program to field a national missile defense system. As Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said in support of such a program, "Only effective missile defense, not unenforceable arms control treaties, will break the offensive arms race in Asia and provide incentives to address security concerns without a nuclear response."

Hundreds of articles and speeches have cited the South Asian tests and the Korean and Iranian missile launches as proof that future threats are inherently unpredictable, intelligence estimates are consistently unreliable, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is fundamentally unstoppable, and, thus, the only truly effective response is reliance on American defense technology. Several expert commissions and congressional investigations have also endorsed this view. The reports of the Rumsfeld Commission on the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States in 1998 and the Cox Committee on U.S. National Security and the People’s Republic of China in 1999 were particularly influential in shaping media and political elite opinion. The impact is global. A regime in need of repair and revitalization remains in a state of suspended anticipation.

A Republican-Built Regime

It was not always this way. The non-proliferation regime has enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States for most of the past fifty years. In fact, a quick historical review indicates that many may have overlooked the important role Republican presidents played in creating and nurturing the regime.

Efforts to contain the spread of weapons of mass destruction began immediately after World War II, spurred by the initiatives of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. As part of his efforts, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to promote the peaceful uses of atomic energy while the world's nuclear powers "began to diminish the potential destructive power of the world's atomic stockpiles."

President Kennedy presented a "Program for General and Complete Disarmament" to the United Nations on September 25, 1961. His ambitious plan included all the elements that negotiators still pursue today: a comprehensive nuclear test ban; a ban on the production of fissile materials for use in weapons (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); the placement of all weapons materials under international safeguards; a ban on the transfer of nuclear weapons, their materials, or their technology; and deep reductions in existing nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles, with the goal of eventually eliminating them. In his short tenure, President Kennedy was able only to secure the Limited Test Ban Treaty, ending nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson successfully completed negotiations for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. President Richard Nixon signed the treaty, bringing it into force, at a Rose Garden ceremony on March 5, 1970. "Let us trust that we will look back," he said, "and say that this was one of the first and major steps in that process in which the nations of the world moved from a period of confrontation to a period of negotiation and a period of lasting peace."

President Nixon followed his treaty signing with efforts that successfully established in the early 1970s the Non-Proliferation Treaty Exporters Committee (known as the Zanger Committee) to control the export of nuclear-weapons-related materials and equipment. He negotiated and implemented the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty limiting defensive armaments and the companion Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) limiting offensive arms, both signed in May 1972.

President Nixon also dramatically announced in November 1969 that the United States would unilaterally and unconditionally renounce biological weapons. He ordered the destruction of all U.S. weapons stockpiles and the conversion of all production facilities for peaceful purposes. At the same time he announced that after forty-four years of U.S. reluctance, he would seek ratification of the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use in war of biological and chemical weapons (subsequently ratified under President Gerald Ford on January 22, 1975). The president renounced the first use of lethal or incapacitating chemical agents and weapons, unconditionally renounced all methods of biological warfare, and threw the resources of the United States behind the effort to negotiate a Biological Weapons Convention. The treaty, signed by President Nixon on April 10, 1972, and ratified by the Senate in December 1974, prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, and transfer of biological weapons.

As a candidate, Roland Reagan opposed the SALT II treaty negotiated by President Jimmy Carter, but as president, Reagan observed the treaty’s limits for years after assuming office. In his second term, President Reagan negotiated and signed on December 8, 1987, the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a process begun by President Jimmy Carter’s two-track policy of deployment and negotiation. The treaty required the destruction of all U.S. and Soviet missiles and their launchers with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (a treaty some argue should be globalized to prohibit all missiles of this range anywhere in the world). As Richard Speier details in chapter 14, President Reagan also began the first effort to control the spread of ballistic missile technology--the Missile Technology Control Regime--in 1987, and he negotiated the first strategic treaty that actually reduced (rather than limited) deployed strategic nuclear forces.

President George Bush signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991 and kept the momentum going by negotiating and signing in January 1993 the START II treaty, the most sweeping arms reduction pact in history. That same month President Bush also signed the treaty he had negotiated, the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, or use of chemical weapons. Of particular significance in this time of negotiations deadlock, President Bush on September 27, 1991, announced that the United States would unilaterally withdraw all of its land- and sea-launched tactical nuclear weapons and would dismantle all of its land- and many of its sea-based systems. The president also announced the unilateral end to the twenty-four-hour alert status of the U.S. bomber force and the de-alerting of a substantial portion of the land-based missile force. (On October 5, 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev reciprocated with similar tactical withdrawals and ordering the de-alerting of 503 Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles.)

In his first term, President Clinton seemed to be continuing the momentum established by his predecessors. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary firmly established and expanded cooperative threat reduction programs with the states of the former Soviet Union and helped convince Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to abandon their inherited nuclear weapons and join the NPT regime. President Clinton successfully managed the indefinite extension and strengthening of the NPT in 1995; led efforts to conclude and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996; failed in 1996 but came back in 1997 to win Senate ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention; and resisted repeated efforts to repeal the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Today, thousands of dedicated civil servants in the United States and around the world toil to implement and strengthen the institutions Republicans and Democrats have built for pragmatic security needs and as a legacy for future generations. The lessons from history are clear: Only by working together, in true bipartisan cooperation can Americans preserve this legacy and strengthen these critical elements of our national defense.

As President Clinton told the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference only last Thursday:

"I believe we must work to broaden and strengthen verifiable arms agreements. The alternative is a world with no rules, no verification and no trust at all. It would be foolish to rely on treaties alone to protect our security. But it would also be foolish to throw away the tools that sound treaties do offer: A more predictable security environment, monitoring inspections, the ability to shine a light on threatening behavior and mobilize the entire world against it."

I completely agree.

Thank you for the privilege of offering these few observations to the Committee.

Question and Answer Session

SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Cirincione.

Let me just say that I appreciate the history and the bipartisan aspects of this, including the contribution by Republican presidents and obviously very substantial contribution by Democratic presidents. I wish Senator Biden were here -- maybe he will return -- but I would just say the two of us visited, during this time you characterized as safer, with Mr. Kosygin in the Kremlin 21 years ago. We were together. And we did not feel particularly safe with regard to our country. Our physical security was fine throughout the meeting, but at that time, the escape of a Russian ballerina had tied up all of the aircraft, so we were not going to go anywhere but Russia until that was relieved.

In another instance, with Senator Sam Nunn, in a bipartisan transition between the Bush administration and the Clinton administration, we visited with President Yeltsin with regard to our Nunn-Lugar efforts at a time which President Yeltsin was vocal in his threats to Ukraine to get on with giving up their weapons or take the consequences. And we proceeded then to see the Ukraine president, Mr. Kravchuk, and to offer him a sum of money that would evidence our cooperation with Ukraine and with Russia and with others, all of this obviously bipartisan. In fact, President Yeltsin, just anecdotally, said he wondered why he and not been called by either President Bush or President Clinton. We cheerfully pointed out, but he had us; we were prepared to speak really for both.

But in any event, this has been an ongoing process in my life and that of Senator Biden, former Senator Nunn, who still is active, and others. And your testimony today is very helpful in tracing some of the history of this.

Now, let me just ask a question. Granted that with regard to the ICBMs, even tactical nuclear weapons, other more visible manifestations of development by countries, the degree of control in various regimes has had a lot of success. And you pointed this out, and it's an important part of the record. Do you have equal confidence with regard to chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, or with proliferation as it pertains to the Aum Shinrikyo sect or others from time to time who come along? In other words, to what extent have our arms control or our regimes with regard to nonproliferation had applicability to this? And even if one accepts the thought, which I think the other panelists do in general -- and they can speak for themselves -- that these regimes are tremendously important, and to burn the bridges, as you say, would be reckless and foolish, but some supplementary effort may be required.

Now it could be multilateral, and Senator Biden has spoken to that earlier on, and so did Director Tenet when I asked, "Unilateral?" and he said, "No, multilateral. Our allies, other people are important in working this out with us."

But I think we're searching in these hearings as well as maybe other policymakers are for how do we deal with this extension to other threats that are less visible, where the regimes are clearly more porous in terms of the intents and maybe the motivations. Do you have any sort of general thoughts about this?

MR. CIRINCIONE: Yes, sir, I do. I believe the greatest threats we face from weapons of mass destruction in fact come from non-state actors using some of these weapons in relatively small quantities. As Senator Biden was pointing out before, we're not worried about global thermonuclear war anymore. We're not talking about the fate of the earth. But even a single use of one of these weapons would be horrific. And if it was a nuclear weapon, it would be the worst catastrophe that we have ever experienced.

And that is why exactly the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Act is so important, because, I have to tell you, while I'm worried about chemical and biological weapons, I'm much more worried about loose nukes in the states of the former Soviet Union. And we continually underestimate the threat that exists from that enormous warehouse of nuclear materials, weapons and scientific capability. And it's all the more urgent to be expanding and accelerating those program. At the Carnegie Endowment, we released a study this month that calls for a tripling of those programs, done by a gentleman I believe you know, Matthew Bunn up at Harvard University. And this is generally in line with the views of many proliferation experts. We can do more faster.

With regards to chemical and biological weapons, it's critically important that there are international norms that say that these weapons are illegal, that you shall not develop, acquire, stockpile or use these weapons. Without such international norms, what would stop a country from developing and marketing these? And I think most experts would agree that the greatest danger occurs from state development of this. It's still extremely difficult for a sub- national group to actually manufacture these weapons. And the greatest dangers is that some existing arsenals will be diverted or conducted in secret and diverted to a sub-national group.

Will people cheat on these conventions? Absolutely. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. That does not mean we should therefore tear down the convention. People still commit murder. We do not repeal the laws. We work to expand the implementation of laws to prevent people from doing so.

That's basically my philosophy on the non-proliferation regime: Expand it; develop new initiatives, new efforts, but don't pretend that we can exist in a world where only the U.S. is setting the rules and everybody else will then fall in line.

SEN. BIDEN: I'd like to go back to Iraq for a minute. At the time that Saddam Hussein was deciding whether or not to employ a weapon of mass destruction -- and correct me if I'm wrong, because I may be -- I assume that he had to assume that General Powell and President Bush were not going to stop, as we did -- and I'm not second-guessing that judgment; this is not a -- I'm not playing a political game; I'm not second-guessing the judgment; it was a rational decision -- I would assume, as he's sitting there in one of his underground bunkers, in one of his palaces or one of his places in Baghdad or in the environs, that he has to make a call. He's got to assume, these boys ain't stopping. Five-hundred thousand troops are coming. They're beating the living devil out of our folks. They ain't gonna stop. They're gonna come all the way to Baghdad, and they're gonna take me down.

Why, in that circumstance -- I mean, I -- is that a reasonable assumption that someone would have to think if you're sitting there in the bunker? Or did he -- and do we have any evidence he had intelligence that he knew that we weren't going to pursue his forces throughout the country? Why would he not have used chemical weapons, if he's as irrational a guy and as calculating and cares as little about his folks as we all say he does? Why didn't he use them?

MR. CIRINCIONE: If I might just start this briefly, I don't think he did believe that we were going to come all the way to Baghdad and destroy the core instruments of his power. But he knew that if he used chemical or biological weapons, we would do so. And that was the threat that President Bush made very clear, that if he used those, we would respond with "overwhelming and devastating force."

I don't believe, and I think the record bears me out on this, that President Bush intended ever to use a nuclear weapon as part of that overwhelming and devastating force. But we certainly had enough conventional forces in the region to destroy completely the Republican Guard and President Hussein and his family in a major attack on Baghdad. And I think he knew that, and therefore he held that back, did not use those weapons because he wanted to preserve his core assets.

SEN. LUGAR: A comment has been made about the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act and its usefulness, at least in a part of the nonproliferation situation, in actually reducing weapons.

Now currently, the Congress faces this proposition, that the Chemical Weapons Convention has been ratified by the United States and by Russia. We are both committed to destruction of our chemical weapons in a 10-year period of time. And this is creating great exertion in this country to try to do that.

Now in Russia, the problem comes down to the fact that they literally have almost no money with which to do this. At least, this is their claim; it's not absolutely zero, but nominal amounts.

Under one proposition last year, as we had the Nunn-Lugar debate in the House and the Senate, we would have committed some funds to the destruction of 500 metric tons. Now, this is out of an estimated 40,000 metric tons in the seven locations in which we are working with the Russians on security, so that at least we have some confidence, and they do too, that the proliferation would not occur from those situations, while we figure out what to do with them.

Now, it's an interesting proposition because leaving aside all the chemical weapons that might be produced somewhere on earth, from scratch or from however people do this, there is an inventory here of 40,000 metric tons. Perhaps in a very stable country, they will remain in this condition, but perhaps not. We really don't know how to prophesy the future. We do know that the quantities -- and we don't know all together sometimes about the stability even of the chemicals, I suppose.

So the proposition that we have then is, "Should we spend United States taxpayer money in sort of the beginning at one site, with 500 metric tons?" Now, the answer last year was "no." Over on the House side, as they wrestled with this, even in the authorization or the appropriations stage, the argument was: "After all, the Russians produced all of this; they sort of made their bed. Let me them sleep in it or take care of it. Why should we, at our expense, try to undo something that is this monumental?"

Now, on the other side, you know, some of us -- and I was one of them who argued that admittedly, 500 (tonnes) out of 40,000 (tonnes) is a very small amount. And you can make the case that this is almost tokenism, but even if a beginning, in working through the problem. On the other hand, we do not know how long the window of opportunity in history remains open nor the disposition of these weapons over the course of time; so that it might be well to get on with it, to really see where our national objectives are, what sort of priorities we have, and what kind of money we finally want to devote to this.

This may not be a fair rendition of the argument, but I ask it anyway, because you must have given some thought to this kind of situation. And what advice would you give?

MR. CIRINCIONE: My logic is very simple here. I do not believe that Russia is a stable nation. I do not believe that the dissolution of the Soviet Union is yet over. I am concerned about the continuing political disintegration of Russia.

Therefore, I am interested in destroying or helping the Russians to destroy as many weapons of mass destruction that they still have control of on their territory as possible.

Therefore, last year I strongly urged that we spend that money, that we destroy those weapons, that it may just be the beginning of further assistance to Russia to destroy the weapons. That is a good national security investment, as far as I'm concerned. It is hard to find a better cost-benefit analysis than destroying weapons on the ground before they have the opportunity to be used against us. It's cheap, at the prices we're talking.

SEN. LUGAR: Particularly if they are willing to cooperate with us in the destruction.

MR. CIRINCIONE: Particularly if they're willing to cooperate with us, as they are, and it could lead to even greater cooperation and more rapid destruction of the rest of the arsenal.