Arms control and nonproliferation measures are an integral part of U.S. security strategy. These measures, designed to reduce existing military threats and prevent new ones from arising, are an essential complement to our military programs to respond to such threats, allowing the United States to maintain greater security at lower cost. Today, as a result of arms reduction and nonproliferation measures already undertaken, thousands of nuclear warheads once aimed at the United States have been removed from their launchers and shipped to dismantlement plants, and a wide range of countries are not armed with weapons of mass destruction that might otherwise have acquired such weapons. The Clinton Administration is committed to seizing the opportunities of the post-Cold War period-and responding to its dangers-by building a still broader and more effective international arms reduction and nonproliferation regime. In that effort, science and technology (S&T) will be critical.
The Arms Control and
Ever since Bernard Baruch presented the U.S. plan for international control of atomic power as a choice "between the quick and the dead," the U.S. Government has recognized the fundamental importance of limiting the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and other advanced weaponry. The United States seeks stabilizing reductions in nuclear arms and arms limitations and confidence-building measures that contribute to global and regional security. We seek to prevent additional countries from acquiring chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and their missile delivery systems and to promote restraint in transfers of conventional arms that may be destabilizing or dangerous to international peace.
With the end of the Cold War, these efforts have become even more essential-and even more complex. The end of Cold War confrontation has enabled historic reductions in nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, and the specter of nuclear annihilation has receded dramatically. At the same time, political fragmentation and economic disarray in the former Soviet Union, along with the worldwide diffusion of technology, raise new proliferation risks and complications for arms control.
Despite the large-scale arms reductions now under way, nuclear weapons remain a central threat to U.S. security. Russia is expected to maintain a formidable nuclear force with thousands of nuclear weapons into the foreseeable future. Britain, France, and China also acknowledge having substantial nuclear forces, and Israel, India, and Pakistan are believed to have nuclear weapons or the capability to assemble them very rapidly.
All told, some twenty nations have or are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and many are also seeking the missiles to deliver them. In addition, a wide range of nations have significant conventional arsenals that could pose threats to regional security. Limiting these threats, to the extent possible, is a top national security priority.
Nuclear weapons, offering the possibility of destroying an entire city instantaneously with a single bomb, pose a particularly devastating threat. The primary technical barrier limiting the spread of nuclear weapons is limits on access to the nuclear materials needed to make them-plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU), both of which require a significant technical effort to produce. Hence, the rising incidence of nuclear smuggling poses an urgent proliferation threat that must be addressed. Unfortunately, chemical and biological weapons are also within the reach of many nations, subnational groups, and even terrorists. Chemical weapons, including nerve gas, blister and blood agents, and others, require significantly less technical sophistication to produce and employ than nuclear weapons. Because chemical protective equipment is highly effective, chemical weapons are most effective against civilians or unprepared troops. The quantities of chemical agent required are relatively small when compared to industrial production of similar commercial chemicals, raising significant complications for control and detection. Biological weapons-which include both living organisms such as bacteria and viruses and the poisons they produce, known as toxins-can also pose a devastating threat and are difficult to detect, either on the battlefield or in production. Like chemical weapons, biological weapons are easier to acquire than nuclear arms. Today, genetic engineering and other new technologies offer new ways to produce dangerous organisms and toxins.
Controlling technologies and materials for weapons of mass destruction is complicated by the fact that a significant fraction of the technology and much of the equipment required for a weapons program is "dual use," with both military and civilian applications. Peaceful nuclear power programs, for example, can provide part of the infrastructure and expertise needed for establishing a nuclear weapons program. Electronic devices used to trigger nuclear bombs are also used in oil exploration. Chemicals used to make nerve agents are also used to make plastics and to process foodstuffs, and facilities producing pesticides, insecticides, and fire-retardant chemicals could be modified to produce chemical agents. A modern pharmaceutical industry could potentially provide the facilities and expertise needed to produce biological warfare agents. High-speed computers used for everything from climate modeling to designing airliners can also be used to design nuclear bombs. High technologies are increasingly difficult to control, due to advances in global scientific literacy and the worldwide mobility of people and information.
Given these realities, arms control and nonproliferation efforts must be firmly based in the technical realities of a broad spectrum of modern technologies. It is essential to focus efforts on key restraints that will genuinely constrain military threats to U.S. and international security while ensuring that the United States and its allies can maintain the robust defense forces they need and allowing trade in key civilian technologies that are the engines of economic growth.
U.S. arms control and nonproliferation efforts make use of two principal classes of tools:
Negotiated measures, agreements designed to reduce arms, stem their spread, and build confidence. These include global agreements such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the chemical and biological weapons conventions as well as strategic and regional security arrangements and measures worked out with individual countries. In addition to arms reduction, these measures address both the "supply side" of proliferation-through controls and monitoring of particular technologies-and the "demand side,"-through measures to build security so that nations feel less need to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Noncooperative measures, designed to limit the "supply side" of proliferation, make it more difficult for potential proliferators to gain access to the essential technologies, materials, and know-how needed for advanced weapons programs.
Science and technology play critical roles in supporting both these types of tools. Our strategy for science and technology support to nonproliferation and arms control focuses on three critical elements:
Apply technical know-how to build effective arms restraints. In-depth understanding of the technologies to be controlled is essential to our efforts to build effective arms reduction and nonproliferation regimes. From implementing effective export controls to stop proliferation at its source, to designing verification provisions that will offer high assurance of compliance, to assessing the impact of proposed restraints on U.S. military programs and on civilian economies, it is critical to maintain a strong cadre of technical experts to support arms reduction and nonproliferation efforts-in Federal agencies, in the national laboratories, and in private industry (see box p. 28, "Government-Industry Collaboration in Nonproliferation").
Continually improve detection, monitoring, and verification capabilities. The remarkable global network of satellites, planes, ships, and ground stations the United States has developed to detect and monitor potentially threatening military activities is one of the great technical achievements of the 20th century. At the same time, advanced technologies for on-site inspections have enabled an impressive global effort to ensure that treaties are abided by and that technologies supplied for peaceful uses are not diverted to military purposes. But in a world of ever-changing technology, these technologies must continually be improved. A robust range of monitoring and verification capabilities offers policymakers the greatest flexibility in crafting arms control and nonproliferation regimes. And early detection of proliferant weapons programs-demanding ever more sophisticated means to measure the often minute or concealed indications of weapons-related activity and to piece together activities that may be harmless in isolation but add together to form a threatening program-enables us to focus on problems before they become crises.
Use science and technology cooperation to advance arms reduction and nonproliferation goals. International cooperation in science and technology can engage the technical community to resolve issues that otherwise could contribute to proliferation pressures. In addition, professional interactions within the international scientific community can build the trust and confidence needed to make progress in arms control and nonproliferation.