Of course no mention that U.S. policies, not to mention Israeli ones, have helped foment this nuclear arms race.
CIA Head Predicts Nuclear Race
Small Nations Pursuing Arms
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 12, 2003; Page A01
CIA Director George J. Tenet warned yesterday that the "desire for nuclear weapons is on the upsurge" among small countries, confronting the world with a new nuclear arms race that threatens to dismantle more than three decades of nonproliferation efforts.
"The 'domino theory' of the 21st century may well be nuclear," Tenet said in reference to the doctrine that led the United States militarily into Vietnam in the 1960s to try to prevent a communist takeover of Southeast Asia. "We have entered a new world of proliferation."
Over the past 12 months, Tenet said, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Libya have all moved to obtain equipment to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials and the ability to deliver them as nuclear bombs. There also has been ongoing concern about Pakistan's and India's maturing nuclear programs, as well as growing alarm that nuclear materials could fall -- or have already spread -- into the hands of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda for production of radioactive "dirty" bombs.
"More has changed on proliferation over the past year than any other issue," Tenet told the Senate intelligence committee in his worldwide threat briefing, an annual report to Congress.
The CIA director's remarks signaled that the Bush administration has concluded that without enforcement, the era in which countries were encouraged by treaties and self-regulation to avoid developing nuclear weapons may be coming to an end. Such a conclusion would buttress the administration's new national security doctrine, which envisions preemptive strikes against potential nuclear powers, as well as bolster the administration's case for developing missile defenses.
Tenet's testimony, which reflected long-held opinions of many Pentagon officials, called into question the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty in which the United States, the Soviet Union and dozens of other countries pledged to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. Although countries such as Israel, Pakistan and India never signed the treaty and have since acquired nuclear weapons, the pact has been widely credited as a landmark in arms control.
The testimony also pointed to concerns about the enforcement abilities of U.N. arms control agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, which are supposed to prevent the spread of nuclear technologies, said Timothy V. McCarthy, senior analyst at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and director of the Center's Proliferation Research and Assessment Program.
Tenet traced the breakdown of the global nonproliferation system not to existing nuclear powers but to what he called "non-state purveyors," meaning private companies or in some cases rogue individuals in Europe and elsewhere who are selling "technology and equipment that previously could only be supplied by countries with established [nuclear] capabilities." He described such individuals and companies as being "in the vanguard of this new world" of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Tenet cited North Korea's decision in recent months to develop the capability to produce weapons-grade uranium and to end its freeze on its plutonium production facilities; Libya's increased access to technologies that have both nuclear and civilian uses; and Iran's decision to produce enriched uranium that could be used for either civilian power generation or a nuclear weapon.
"The example of new nuclear states that seem able to deter threats from more powerful states, simply by brandishing nuclear weaponry, will resonate deeply among other countries that want to enter the nuclear weapons club," Tenet said.
Tenet particularly cited North Korea, which secretly began building an enriched uranium facility two years ago and since last fall has confronted the Bush administration with a strategic and foreign policy challenge. After being confronted last October by the United States, the North Korean government in Pyongyang admitted what it was doing, refused to halt its program without direct negotiations with Washington and thereafter withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also openly repudiated a 1994 agreement with the Clinton administration that froze its plutonium production facility.
Using North Korea as a starting point, Tenet said, "Additional countries may decide to seek nuclear weapons as it becomes clear their neighbors and regional rivals are doing so."
In North Korea's case, Pakistani scientists in the mid-1990s laid out a road map of companies from which Pyongyang could purchase needed nuclear equipment. Iraq, according to U.S. intelligence, has been able to purchase from a variety of sources aluminum tubing that can be used in a centrifuge for producing weapons grade uranium.
Traditional supporters of nonproliferation efforts reacted strongly to Tenet's statement.
"It is easy to say this regime won't work, but what's the alternative?" said Gordon Prather, a scientist who worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with additional experience at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. He traced the CIA's concern over proliferation to the "shock" in finding that Iraq in 1991 had come close to developing a nuclear capability. North Korea's ability to procure equipment for its new enriched uranium was another example, Prather said.