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July 15, 1998
Pursuant to Public Law 201
The Commission To Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat
to the United States were nominated by the
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,
the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and the
Minority Leaders of the U.S. Senate and the
U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman
Dr. Barry M. Blechman
General Lee Butler, USAF (Ret.)
Dr. Richard L. Garwin
Dr. William R. Graham
Dr. William Schneider, Jr.
General Larry D. Welch, USAF (Ret.)
Dr. Paul D. Wolfowitz
The Honorable R. James Woolsey
and appointed by the
Director of Central Intelligence
I. Charter and Organization
A. Statutory Charter of the Commission
The Commission To Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
was established pursuant to Public Law 104-201, the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 1997, Section 1321(g).
The mandate of the Commission was as follows:
"The Commission shall assess the nature and magnitude of the existing and emerging
ballistic missile threat to the United States. In carrying out its duties, the
Commission should receive the full and timely cooperation of the Secretary
of Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence and any other United States
Government official responsible for providing the Commission with analyses,
briefings and other information necessary for the fulfillment of its responsibilities.
The Commission shall, not later than six months after the date of its first
meeting, submit to the Congress a report on its findings and conclusions."
The Commission examined the ballistic missile threat posed to
the 50 states. Our assessment included threats posed by ballistic
The Commission examined the potential of both existing and emerging powers
to arm ballistic missiles with weapons of mass destruction. The examination
included the domestic design, development and production of nuclear material
and nuclear weapons as well as the potential for states to acquire, through
clandestine or covert sale, transfer or theft, either technology, material or
weapons. The Commission examined biological and chemical weapons programs of
the ballistic missile powers, as well as the potential means for delivering
such agents by ballistic missiles.
The Commission reviewed U.S. collection and analysis capabilities to gain an
appreciation for the capability of the U.S. Intelligence Community, today
and into the future, to warn of the ballistic missile threat.
The Commission did not examine in detail the threat posed to U.S. territories
or possessions or to U.S. forward deployed forces, allies and friends. Nevertheless,
a short discussion of the threat to U.S. forward deployed forces, allies
and friends is presented. The Commission did not assess the cruise missile threat.
A detailed examination would have taken it beyond its charter. However, the
Commission is of the view that cruise missiles have a number of characteristics
which could be seen as increasingly valuable in fulfilling the aspirations of
emerging ballistic missile states. The Commission did not address in detail
the impact of ballistic missile threats on U.S. military strategy and doctrine,
but noted the difficulty the U.S had in dealing with Iraqi missiles during
the Persian Gulf War. Only a brief discussion of the relationship of ballistic
missile threats to the ongoing revolution in military affairs is presented.
A brief discussion is also presented of the possible impact of the Year 2000
(Y2K) problem on the ballistic missile threat.
The Commission was not asked to address the policy issues on which its assessment
would bear. Responses to the threat as assessed by the Commission are matters
of considerable public interest. Debate and agreement on the appropriate responses
to the ballistic missile threat are needed. The Commission hopes that the following
assessment will be helpful in that regard.
B. Organization of the Report
This is an unclassified Executive Summary of the 307-page classified Report
of the Commission To Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States.
The Report is accompanied by two classified appendices and an unclassified appendix.
The full Report includes discussions of a number of additional states, such
as Libya and Syria, which are not included in this Executive Summary. The full
Report includes as well a discussion of the full range of supplier states, particularly
Western powers, including the United States.
II. Executive Summary
A. Conclusions of the Commissioners
The nine Commissioners are unanimous in concluding that:
Concerted efforts by a number of overtly or potentially hostile nations
to acquire ballistic missiles with biological or nuclear payloads
pose a growing threat to the United States, its deployed forces and
its friends and allies. These newer, developing threats in North Korea,
Iran and Iraq are in addition to those still posed by the existing ballistic
missile arsenals of Russia and China, nations with which we are not
now in conflict but which remain in uncertain transitions. The newer ballistic
missile-equipped nations' capabilities will not match those of U.S. systems
for accuracy or reliability. However, they would be able to inflict major
destruction on the U.S. within about five years of a decision to acquire
such a capability (10 years in the case of Iraq). During several of those
years, the U.S. might not be aware that such a decision had been made.
The threat to the U.S. posed by these emerging capabilities is broader,
more mature and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in estimates
and reports by the Intelligence Community.
The Intelligence Community's ability to provide timely and
accurate estimates of ballistic missile threats to the U.S. is
eroding. This erosion has roots both within and beyond the
intelligence process itself. The Community's capabilities in this
area need to be strengthened in terms of both resources and
The warning times the U.S. can expect of new, threatening ballistic missile
deployments are being reduced. Under some plausible scenarios-including
re-basing or transfer of operational missiles, sea- and air-launch options,
shortened development programs that might include testing in a third country,
or some combination of these-the U.S. might well have little or no warning
before operational deployment.
Therefore, we unanimously recommend that U.S. analyses, practices and policies
that depend on expectations of extended warning of deployment be reviewed and,
as appropriate, revised to reflect the reality of an environment in which there
may be little or no warning.
B. The Commission and Its Methods
The Commissioners brought to their task the perspectives of former senior
policymakers from outside the Intelligence Community, who have decades of experience
and a variety of views as users of the Intelligence Community's products.
We shared an informed understanding of intelligence processes. In making our
assessment, we took into account not only the hard data available, but also
the often significant gaps in that data. We had access to both data and experts
drawn from the full array of departments and agencies as well as from sources
throughout the Intelligence Community. We also drew on experts from outside
that Community and on studies sponsored by the Commission. Our aim was to ensure
that we were exposed to a wide range of opinion and to the greatest possible
depth and breadth of analysis.
We began this study with different views about how to respond to
ballistic missile threats, and we continue to have differences.
Nevertheless, as a result of our intensive study over the last six
months we are unanimous in our assessment of the threat, an
assessment which differs from published intelligence estimates.
This divergence between the Commission's findings and
authoritative estimates by the Intelligence Community stems
primarily from our use of a somewhat more comprehensive methodology
in assessing ballistic missile development and deployment programs.
We believe that our approach takes more fully into account three
crucial factors now shaping new ballistic missile threats to the
Newer ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development
programs no longer follow the patterns initially set by the U.S. and the
Soviet Union. These programs require neither high standards of missile
accuracy, reliability and safety nor large numbers of missiles and therefore
can move ahead more rapidly.
A nation that wants to develop ballistic missiles and weapons of mass
destruction can now obtain extensive technical assistance from outside sources.
Foreign assistance is not a wild card. It is a fact.
Nations are increasingly able to conceal important elements of
their ballistic missile and associated WMD programs and are highly
motivated to do so.
C. New Threats in a Transformed Security Enviroment
The Commission did not assess nuclear, biological and chemical weapons
programs on a global basis. We considered those countries about which we felt
particular reason to be concerned and examined their capabilities to acquire
ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction.
All of the nations whose programs we examined that are developing long range
ballistic missiles have the option to arm these, as well as their shorter- range
systems, with biological or chemical weapons. These weapons can take the form
of bomblets as well as a single, large warhead.
The knowledge needed to design and build a nuclear weapon is now widespread.
The emerging ballistic missile powers have access to, or are pursuing the
acquisition of, the needed fissile material both through domestic efforts and
As our work went forward, it became increasingly clear to us that nations about
which the U.S. has reason to be concerned are exploiting a dramatically transformed
international security environment. That environment provides an ever-widening
access to technology, information and expertise that can be and is used to speed
both the development and deployment of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass
destruction. It can also be used to develop denial and deception techniques
that seek to impede U.S. intelligence gathering about the development and deployment
programs of those nations.
1. Geopolitical Change and Role for Ballistic Missiles
A number of countries with regional ambitions do not welcome the
U.S. role as a stabilizing power in their regions and have not
accepted it passively. Because of their ambitions, they want to
place restraints on the U.S. capability to project power or
influence into their regions. They see the acquisition of missile
and WMD technology as a way of doing so.
Since the end of the Cold War, the geopolitical environment and the roles
of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction have both evolved. Ballistic
missiles provide a cost-effective delivery system that can be used for both
conventional and non-conventional weapons. For those seeking to thwart the projection
of U.S. power, the capability to combine ballistic missiles with weapons of
mass destruction provides a strategic counter to U.S. conventional and information-based
military superiority. With such weapons, these nations can pose a serious threat
to the United States, to its forward-based forces and their staging areas
and to U.S. friends and allies.
Whether short or long range, a successfully launched ballistic missile has
a high probability of delivering its payload to its target compared to other
means of delivery. Emerging powers therefore see ballistic missiles as highly
effective deterrent weapons and as an effective means of coercing or intimidating
adversaries, including the United States.
With regard to Russia, the principal cloud over the future is lingering political
uncertainty. Despite enormous changes since the break-up of the Soviet Union,
Russia is in an uncertain, in some ways precarious, transition. It may succeed
in establishing a stable democracy allied with the West in maintaining peace
and extending freedom. Or it may not. Or it might be torn by internal struggles
for an extended period. In its present situation, accurate U.S. intelligence
estimates are difficult to make.
Russia continues to pose a ballistic missile threat to the United States, although
of a different character than in the past. The number of missiles in its inventory
is likely to decline further compared with Cold War levels in that large numbers
of Soviet strategic missiles deployed in the 1970s and 1980s are scheduled to
be retired. Still, Russian ballistic missile forces continue to be modernized
and improved, although the pace of modernization has been slowed from planned
schedules by economic constraints. The Russian ballistic missile early warning
system and nuclear command and control system have also been affected by
aging and delays in planned modernization. In the context of a crisis growing
out of civil strife, present early warning and command and control (C2)
weaknesses could pose a risk of unauthorized or inadvertent launch of missiles
against the United States.
With the Cold War ended, the likelihood of a deliberate missile attack on
the U.S. from Russia has been greatly lessened but not entirely eliminated.
However, Russia's leaders issued a new national security policy in 1993 that
places greater reliance on nuclear deterrence, very likely in response to Russia's
economic difficulties and decline in its conventional military capabilities.
At the same time, the risk of an accident or of a loss of control over Russian
ballistic missile forces-a risk which now appears small-could increase sharply
and with little warning if the political situation in Russia were to deteriorate.
Also, quite apart from these risks, Russia poses a threat to the U.S. as
a major exporter of enabling technologies, including ballistic missile technologies,
to countries hostile to the United States. In particular, Russian assistance
has greatly accelerated Iran's ballistic missile program
As in the case of Russia, China's future is clouded by a range of uncertainties.
China, too, is going through a transition, but one which has been going on for
20 years. The improvement in Sino-U.S. relations, interrupted in 1989, has
resumed. Although the U.S. and China are developing a more cooperative relationship,
significant potential conflicts remain, and China is less constrained today
by fear of Russia than it once was by fear of the Soviet Union. Taiwan is
an obvious potential flashpoint. Others could arise as China pursues its drive
for greater influence in Asia and the Western Pacific. Even now China has
conflicts with several of its neighbors, some of which could involve the U.S.
in a confrontation.
China is modernizing its long range missiles and nuclear weapons in ways
that will make it a more threatening power in the event of a crisis. China's
1996 missile firings in the Taiwan Strait, aimed at intimidating Taiwan in
the lead-up to its presidential election, provoked a sharp confrontation with
the United States. For example, during this crisis a pointed question was
posed by Lt. Gen. Xiong Guang Kai, a frequent spokesman for Chinese policy,
about U.S. willingness to trade Los Angeles for Taipei. This comment seemed
designed to link China's ballistic missile capabilities with its regional priorities.
China also poses a threat to the U.S. as a significant proliferator of
ballistic missiles, weapons of mass destruction and enabling technologies.
It has carried out extensive transfers to Iran's solid-fueled ballistic missile
program. It has supplied Pakistan with a design for a nuclear weapon and additional
nuclear weapons assistance. It has even transferred complete ballistic missile
systems to Saudi Arabia (the 3,100-km-range CSS-2) and Pakistan (the 350-km-range
The behavior thus far of Russia and China makes it appear unlikely, albeit
for different reasons-strategic, political, economic or some combination of
all three-that either government will soon effectively reduce its country's
sizable transfer of critical technologies, experts or expertise to the emerging
4. Countries With Scud-Based Missile Infrastructures
The basis of most missile developments by emerging ballistic missile powers
is the Soviet Scud missile and its derivatives. The Scud is derived from the
World War II-era German V-2 rocket. With the external help now readily available,
a nation with a well-developed, Scud-based ballistic missile infrastructure
would be able to achieve first flight of a long range missile, up to and including
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) range (greater than 5,500 km),
within about five years of deciding to do so. During several of those years
the U.S. might not be aware that such a decision had been made. Early production
models would probably be limited in number. They would be unlikely to meet U.S.
standards of safety, accuracy and reliability. But the purposes of these nations
would not require such standards. A larger force armed with scores of missiles
and warheads and meeting higher operational standards would take somewhat
longer to test, produce and deploy. But meanwhile, even a few of the simpler
missiles could be highly effective for the purposes of those countries.
The extraordinary level of resources North Korea and Iran are now devoting
to developing their own ballistic missile capabilities poses a substantial and
immediate danger to the U.S., its vital interests and its allies. While these
nations' missile programs may presently be aimed primarily at regional adversaries,
they inevitably and inescapably engage the vital interests of the U.S. as well.
Their targeted adversaries include key U.S. friends and allies. U.S. deployed
forces are already at risk from these nations' growing arsenals. Each of these
nations places a high priority on threatening U.S. territory, and each is even
now pursuing advanced ballistic missile capabilities to pose a direct threat
to U.S. territory.
a. North Korea
There is evidence that North Korea is working hard on the Taepo Dong 2 (TD-2)
ballistic missile. The status of the system's development cannot be determined
precisely. Nevertheless, the ballistic missile test infrastructure in North
Korea is well developed. Once the system is assessed to be ready, a test flight
could be conducted within six months of a decision to do so. If North Korea
judged the test to be a success, the TD-2 could be deployed rapidly. It is unlikely
the U.S. would know of such a decision much before the missile was launched.
This missile could reach major cities and military bases in Alaska and the smaller,
westernmost islands in the Hawaiian chain. Light-weight variations of the TD-2
could fly as far as 10,000 km, placing at risk western U.S. territory in an
arc extending northwest from Phoenix, Arizona, to Madison, Wisconsin.
These variants of the TD-2 would require additional time to develop and would
likely require an additional flight test.
North Korea has developed and deployed the No Dong, a medium range ballistic
missile (MRBM) using a scaled-up Scud engine, which is capable of flying 1,300
km. With this missile, North Korea can threaten Japan, South Korea, and
US bases in the vicinity of the DPRK. North Korea has reportedly tested the
No Dong only once, in 1993. The Commission judges that the No Dong was operationally
deployed long before the U.S. Government recognized that fact. There is ample
evidence that North Korea has created a sizable missile production infrastructure,
and therefore it is highly likely that considerable numbers of No Dongs have
In light of the considerable difficulties the Intelligence Community encountered
in assessing the pace and scope of the No Dong missile program, the U.S. may
have very little warning prior to the deployment of the Taepo Dong 2.
North Korea maintains an active WMD program, including a nuclear weapon program.
It is known that North Korea diverted material in the late 1980s for at least
one or possibly two weapons. North Korea's ongoing nuclear program activity
raises the possibility that it could produce additional nuclear weapons. North
Korea also possesses biological weapons production and dispensing technology,
including the capability to deploy chemical or biological warheads on missiles.
North Korea also poses a major threat to American interests, and potentially
to the United States itself, because it is a major proliferator of the ballistic
missile capabilities it possesses-missiles, technology, technicians, transporter-erector-launchers
(TELs) and underground facility expertise-to other countries of missile proliferation
concern. These countries include Iran, Pakistan and others.
Iran is placing extraordinary emphasis on its ballistic missile and WMD development
programs. The ballistic missile infrastructure in Iran is now more sophisticated
than that of North Korea, and has benefited from broad, essential, long-term
assistance from Russia and important assistance from China as well. Iran is
making very rapid progress in developing the Shahab-3 MRBM, which like the
North Korean No Dong has a range of 1300 km. This missile may be flight tested
at any time and deployed soon thereafter.
We judge that Iran now has the technical capability and resources to demonstrate
an ICBM-range ballistic missile, similar to the TD-2 (based on scaled-up Scud
technology) within five years of a decision to proceed-whether that decision
has already been made or is yet to be made.
In addition to this Scud-based long range ballistic missile program, Iran
has acquired and is seeking major, advanced missile components that can be combined
to produce ballistic missiles with sufficient range to strike the United States.
For example, Iran is reported to have acquired engines or engine designs for
the RD-214 engine, which powered the Soviet SS-4 MRBM, and to have an interest
in even more advanced engines. A 10,000 km-range Iranian missile could hold
the U.S. at risk in an arc extending northeast of a line from Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, to St. Paul, Minnesota.
Iran has also developed a solid-fueled rocket infrastructure and produces short
range rockets, and also is seeking long range missile technology from outside
sources, purportedly for a space launch vehicle. Both contribute directly
to Iran's ballistic missile technology base. Iran is known to rely heavily on
imports of missile technology from foreign sources, particularly Russia and
North Korea. These imports have allowed Iran's missile programs to proceed
swiftly, and they can be incorporated into Iran's domestic infrastructure as
Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction. It has a nuclear energy and
weapons program, which aims to design, develop, and as soon as possible produce
nuclear weapons. The Commission judges that the only issue as to whether or
not Iran may soon have or already has a nuclear weapon is the amount of fissile
material available to it. Because of significant gaps in our knowledge, the
U.S. is unlikely to know whether Iran possesses nuclear weapons until after
the fact. While Iran's civil nuclear program is currently under International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, it could be used as a source of sufficient
fissile material to construct a small number of weapons within the next ten
years if Iran were willing to violate safeguards. If Iran were to accumulate
enough fissile material from foreign sources, it might be able to develop a
nuclear weapon in only one to three years. Iran also has an active chemical
weapon development and production program, and is conducting research into biological
Iraq has maintained the skills and industrial capabilities needed to reconstitute
its long range ballistic missile program. Its plant and equipment are less developed
than those of North Korea or Iran as a result of actions forced by UN Resolutions
and monitoring. However, Iraq has actively continued work on the short range
(under 150 km) liquid- and solid-fueled missile programs that are allowed by
the Resolutions. Once UN-imposed controls are lifted, Iraq could mount a
determined effort to acquire needed plant and equipment, whether directly or
indirectly. Such an effort would allow Iraq to pose an ICBM threat to the
United States within 10 years. Iraq could develop a shorter range, covert,
ship-launched missile threat that could threaten the United States in a very
Iraq had a large, intense ballistic missile development and production program
prior to the Gulf War. The Iraqis produced Scuds, and then modified Scud missiles
to produce the 600 km range Al Hussein and 900 km range Al Abbas missiles.
The expertise, as well as some of the equipment and materials from this program
remain in Iraq and provide a strong foundation for a revived ballistic missile
Prior to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Iraq could have had nuclear weapons
in the 1993-1995 time frame, although it still had technical hurdles to overcome.
After the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq began a crash program to produce a nuclear
device in six to nine months based on highly enriched uranium removed from the
safeguarded reactor at Tuwaitha. Iraq has the capability to reconstitute its
nuclear weapon program; the speed at which it can do so depends on the availability
of fissile material. It would take several years to build the required production
facilities from scratch. It is possible that Iraq has hidden some material from
U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection, or that it could acquire fissile
material abroad (e.g., from another "rogue" state.) Iraq also had large chemical
and biological weapons programs prior to the war, and produced chemical and
biological warheads for its missiles. Knowledge, personnel, and equipment
related to WMD remain in Iraq, so that it could reconstitute these programs
rapidly following the end of sanctions.
India is developing a number of ballistic missiles from short range to those
with ICBM-class capabilities, along with a submarine-launched ballistic missile
(SLBM) and a short range, surface ship-launched system. India has the infrastructure
to develop and produce these missiles. It is aggressively seeking technology
from other states, particularly Russia. While it develops its long range ballistic
missiles, India's space-launch vehicles provide an option for an interim ICBM
capability. India has detonated several nuclear devices and it is clear that
it is developing warheads for its missile systems. India has biological and
chemical weapons programs. Since the Pakistani nuclear tests, India has announced
its intention to increase its spending on missiles and nuclear weapons.
India's program to develop ballistic missiles began in 1983 and grew out of
its space-launch program, which was based on Scout rocket technology acquired
from the United States. India currently has developed and deployed the Prithvi
short range ballistic missile (SRBM), and is developing longer range, liquid-
and solid-fueled missiles. They include the Prithvi II SRBM, the Agni, Agni-Plus
and Agni-B IRBMs, a sea-launched ballistic missile and an SLBM, the Sagarika.
India detonated a nuclear device in 1974, conducted a test
series in May 1998, and it is clear that it is developing warheads
for its missile systems. Indian leaders recently declared that
India has developed nuclear weapons for deployment on the Prithvi
SRBM and the Agni Plus MRBM.
India has acquired and continues to seek Russian, U.S., and Western European
technology for its missile programs. Technology and expertise acquired from
other states, particularly from Russia, are helping India to accelerate the
development and increase the sophistication of its missile systems. For example,
Russian assistance is critical to the development of the Indian SLBM and its
related submarine. But India is rapidly enhancing its own missile science and
technology base as well. Many Indian nationals are educated and work in the
U.S., Europe, and other advanced nations; some of the knowledge thereby acquired
returns to the Indian missile program. While India continues to benefit from
foreign technology and expertise, its programs and industrial base are now sufficiently
advanced that supplier control regimes can affect only the rate of acceleration
in India's programs. India is in a position to supply material and technical
assistance to others.
Pakistan's ballistic missile infrastructure is now more advanced than that
of North Korea. It will support development of a missile of 2,500-km range,
which we believe Pakistan will seek in order to put all of India within range
of Pakistani missiles. The development of a 2,500-km missile will give Pakistan
the technical base for developing a much longer range missile system. Through
foreign acquisition, and beginning without an extensive domestic science and
technology base, Pakistan has acquired these missile capabilities quite rapidly.
China and North Korea are Pakistan's major sources of ballistic missiles,
production facilities and technology.
Pakistan currently possesses nuclear-capable M-11 SRBMs acquired
from China, and it may produce its own missile, the Tarmuk, based
on the M-11. In 1998, Pakistan tested the 1300 km Ghauri MRBM, a
version of the North Korean No Dong, and we believe Pakistan has
acquired production facilities for this missile as well.
Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons that employ highly-enriched uranium and
in May 1998 conducted its first nuclear weapon test series. A new Pakistani
nuclear reactor has been completed that could be used for the production of
plutonium. In addition to its nuclear weapons, Pakistan has biological and chemical
weapons programs. Chinese assistance has been crucial to Pakistan's nuclear
India and Pakistan are not hostile to the United States. The prospect of
U.S. military confrontation with either seems at present to be slight. However,
beyond the possibility of nuclear war on the subcontinent, their aggressive,
competitive development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction
poses three concerns in particular. First, it enables them to supply relevant
technologies to other nations. Second, India and Pakistan may seek additional
technical assistance through cooperation with their current major suppliers-India
from North Korea, Iran and Russia; Pakistan from North Korea and China-because
of the threats they perceive from one another and because of India's anxieties
about China, combined with their mounting international isolation. Third, their
growing missile and WMD capabilities have direct effects on U.S. policies,
both regional and global, and could significantly affect U.S. capability to
play a stabilizing role in Asia.
D. A New Non-Proliferation Enviroment
Since the end of the Cold War a number of developments have made ballistic
missile and WMD technologies increasingly available. They include:
A number of nations have chosen not to join non-proliferation agreements.
Some participants in those agreements have cheated.
As global trade has steadily expanded, access has increased to
the information, technology and technicians needed for missile and
Access to technologies used in early generations of U.S. and Soviet missiles
has eased. However rudimentary compared to present U.S. standards, these
technologies serve the needs of emerging ballistic missile powers.
Among those countries of concern to the U.S., commerce in
ballistic missile and WMD technology and hardware has been growing,
which may make proliferation self-sustaining among them and
facilitate their ability to proliferate technology and hardware to
Some countries which could have readily acquired nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles-such as Germany, Japan and South Korea-have been successfully
encouraged not to do so by U.S. security guarantees and by non-proliferation
agreements. Even though they lack such security guarantees, other countries
have also joined non-proliferation agreements and abandoned development programs
and weapons systems. Some examples are Argentina, Brazil, South Africa
and the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
1. Increased Competence of and Trade Among Emerging Ballistic Missile Powers
Conversely, there are other countries-some of which are themselves parties
to various non-proliferation agreements and treaties-that either have acquired
ballistic missile or WMD capabilities or are working hard to do so. North Korea,
Iran and Iraq, as well as India and Pakistan, are at the forefront of
this group. They now have increased incentives to cooperate with one another.
They have extensive access to technology, information and expertise from developed
countries such as Russia and China. They also have access through commercial
and other channels in the West, including the United States. Through this
trade and their own indigenous efforts, these second-tier powers are on the
verge of being able to provide to one another, if they have not already done
so, the capabilities needed to develop long range ballistic missiles.
2. U.S. as a Contributor to Proliferation
The U.S. is the world's leading developer and user of advanced technology.
Once it is transferred by the U.S. or by another developed country, there is
no way to ensure that the transferred technology will not be used for hostile
purposes. The U.S. tries to limit technology transfers to hostile powers, but
history teaches that such transfers cannot be stopped for long periods. They
can only be slowed and made more costly, and even that requires the cooperation
of other developed nations. The acquisition and use of transferred technologies
in ballistic missile and WMD programs has been facilitated by foreign student
training in the U.S., by wide dissemination of technical information, by the
illegal acquisition of U.S. designs and equipment and by the relaxation of U.S.
export control policies. As a result, the U.S. has been and is today a major,
albeit unintentional, contributor to the proliferation of ballistic missiles
and associated weapons of mass destruction.
3. Motives of Countries of Concern
Recent ballistic missile and nuclear tests in South Asia should not be viewed
as merely a sharp but temporary setback in the expanding reach of non-proliferation
regimes. While policymakers may try to reverse or at least contain the trends
of which these tests are a part, the missile and WMD programs of these nations
are clearly the results of fundamental political calculations of their vital
interests. Those nations willing and able to supply dangerous technologies and
systems to one another, including Russia, China and their quasi-governmental
commercial entities, may be motivated by commercial, foreign policy or national
security interests or by a combination thereof. As noted above, such countries
are increasingly cooperating with one another, perhaps in some instances because
they have reciprocal needs for what one has and the other lacks. The transfer
of complete missile systems, such as China's transfer to Saudi Arabia, will
continue to be available. Short of radical political change, there is every
reason to assume that the nations engaged in these missile and WMD development
activities will continue their programs as matters of high priority.
4. Readier Market Access to Technology
In today's increasingly market-driven, global economy, nations so motivated
have faster, cheaper and more efficient access to modern technology. Commercial
exchanges and technology transfers have multiplied the pathways to those technologies
needed for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. These pathways
reduce development times and costs, lowering both technical and budget obstacles
to missile development and deployment.
Expanding world trade and the explosion in information
technology have accelerated the global diffusion of scientific,
technical and industrial information. The channels, both public and
private, legal and illegal, through which technology, components
and individual technicians can be moved among nations have
5. Availability of Classified Information and Export-Controlled Technology
Those trends in the commercial sector have been accompanied, and
in many ways accelerated, by an increased availability of
classified information as a result of:
Lax enforcement of export controls.
Relaxation of U.S. and Western export controls.
Growth in dual-use technologies.
Economic incentives to sell ballistic missile components and
Extensive declassification of materials related to ballistic
missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Continued, intense espionage facilitated by security measures
increasingly inadequate for the new environment.
Extensive disclosure of classified information, including
information compromising intelligence sources and methods. Damaging
information appears almost daily in the national and international
media and on the Internet.
E. Alternative Ballistic Missile Launch Modes
In evaluating present threats, it is misleading to use old patterns of development
as guides. The history of U.S. and Soviet missile and WMD development has
become irrelevant. Approaches that the U.S. considered and specifically rejected
on grounds of safety, reliability, accuracy and requirements for high volume
production are in many cases well suited to nations less concerned about safety
and able to meet their needs with only a few, less accurate, less reliable weapons.
Analytical approaches the Intelligence Community could realistically rely
on in the past need to be restudied and reevaluated in light of this newer model.
The Commission believes the U.S. needs to pay attention to the
possibility that complete, long range ballistic missile systems
could be transferred from one nation to another, just as China
transferred operational CSS-2s to Saudi Arabia in 1988. Such
missiles could be equipped with weapons of mass destruction.
One nation's use of another nation's territory also needs to be considered.
The U.S. did this during the Cold War, and the Soviet Union tried to do
it in Cuba in the early 1960s. For example, if Iran were to deploy ballistic
missiles in Libya, it could reduce the range required to threaten the U.S.
as well as Europe. Given the existing patterns of cooperation we have already
seen, both testing by one country on the territory of another and deriving data
from other-country tests are also distinct possibilities.
Sea launch of shorter range ballistic missiles is another possibility. This
could enable a country to pose a direct territorial threat to the U.S. sooner
than it could by waiting to develop an ICBM for launch from its own territory.
Sea-launching could also permit it to target a larger area of the U.S. than
would a missile fired from its home territory. India is working on a sea launch
capability. Air launch is another possible mode of delivering a shorter range
missile to U.S. territory.
The key importance of these approaches is that each would
significantly shorten the warning time of deployment available to
the United States.
F. Erosion of Warning
Precise forecasts of the growth in ballistic missile
capabilities over the next two decades-tests by year, production
rates, weapons deployed by year, weapon characteristics by system
type and circular error probable (CEP)-cannot be provided with
confidence. Deception and denial efforts are intense and often
successful, and U.S. collection and analysis assets are limited.
Together they create a high risk of continued surprise.
The question is not simply whether we will have warning of an
emerging capability, but whether the nature and magnitude of a
particular threat will be perceived with sufficient clarity in time
to take appropriate action.
Concealment, denial and deception efforts by key target countries are intended
to delay the discovery of strategically significant activities until well after
they had been carried out successfully. The fact that some of these secret activities
are discovered over time is to the credit of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
However, the fact that there are delays in discovery of those activities provides
a sharp warning that a great deal of activity goes undetected.
Both technical and human intelligence are inherently more difficult to collect
in those countries where the United States has limited access, which includes
most of the ballistic missile countries of concern. The U.S. is not able to
predict and anticipate with confidence the behavior and actions of emerging
ballistic missile powers and their related political decision-making.
Their ballistic missile programs often do not follow a single, known pattern
or model, and they use unexpected development patterns. These are not models
of development the U.S. follows or that intelligence analysts expect to see.
For example, Pakistan's test launch in April 1998 of its Ghauri medium range
ballistic missile (MRBM)-its version of the North Korean No Dong-could not
be predicted on the basis of any known pattern of technical development either
for MRBMs generally or Pakistan in particular. Similarly, North Korea's decision
to deploy the No Dong after what is believed to be a single successful test
flight is another example. Based on U.S. and Russian experience, the Intelligence
Community had expected that a regular test series would be required to provide
the confidence needed before any country would produce and deploy a ballistic
missile system. Yet North Korea deployed the No Dong.
The Commission believes that the technical means of collection
now employed will not meet emerging requirements, and considerable
uncertainty persists whether planned collection and analysis
systems will do so.
In analyzing the ballistic missile threat, the Commission used
an expanded methodology. We used it as a complement to the
traditional analysis in which a country's known program status is
used to establish estimates of its current missile capabilities. We
believe this expanded approach provides insights into emerging
threats that the prevailing approaches used by the Intelligence
Community may not bring to the surface.
To guide our assessment of the ballistic missile threat to the United States
we posed three questions:
What is known about the ballistic missile threat, including the domestic
infrastructure of a ballistic missile power; the efforts of a power to acquire
foreign technology, materials and expertise; and the scale, pace and progress
of its programs?
What is not known about the threat in each of those three
Can a power intent on posing a ballistic missile threat to any part of
the United States, including the use of but not limited to ICBM-range missiles,
use the open market, the black market and/or espionage to secure the
needed technology and expertise and then carry out its program in ways that
will minimize the interval between the time the U.S. becomes aware of the
threat and the fielding of that capability?
In seeking answers to these questions, the Commission familiarized itself with
the current state of knowledge as well as the depth of analytic capability within
the Intelligence Community related to ballistic missile and WMD threats. The
Commission used its broad access to individuals, special compartmented intelligence
and special access programs. It consulted with experts in the broader government
and private analytic and policy communities. It reviewed the strengths, weaknesses
and vulnerabilities of current and planned human and technical collection efforts
and capabilities, especially in light of the increasingly sophisticated means
and methods available to target countries to hide from U.S. intelligence collection.
It reviewed with scientists, engineers and program managers from the public
and private sectors the technical issues associated with the design, development
and testing of ballistic missiles and the means and methods available to the
emerging ballistic missile powers to meet the challenges associated with long
range ballistic missile development and testing.
The Commission analyzed the available information in order to
develop an understanding of the threat from three perspectives:
We examined the known size and quality of the deployed forces, the doctrine
and the command and control systems that govern the forces and the availability
of weapons of mass destruction to arm the forces. We reviewed the infrastructure
supporting the programs and the extent of past and present foreign assistance
available to those programs from Russia, China and other countries,
including the West.
We examined the ways in which the programs of emerging ballistic missile
powers compared with one another. For example, we traced the development
histories of the related programs of North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan
and the relationships among them. This comparison helped in identifying
the similarities between programs, the extent to which each had aided one
another in overcoming critical development hurdles and, importantly, the
pace at which a determined country can progress in its program development.
We reviewed the resources ("inputs") available and the ways in
which they provide indicators of the prospects for successful
By integrating these perspectives, we were able to partially bridge a significant
number of intelligence gaps. Emphasizing inputs makes two important contributions
to the analysis. Inputs include domestic opportunity costs, the foreign technology
and expertise sought and obtained, the urgency with which facilities are constructed
both above and below ground and the willingness to absorb cost and time penalties
in order to hide activities from detection by U.S. intelligence. Attention
to inputs across all elements of a program helps develop an understanding of
the scale and scope of a program before traditional output indicators, such
as testing and production rates, can be observed and evaluated. When combined
with observed outputs and the application of engineering judgments, the understanding
of the scale and scope of a program that this provided helped us to measure
the probable pace and magnitude of a program and its potential products. We
were then able to make what we believe to be reasonably confident estimates
of what the various programs can achieve.
Rather than measuring how far a program had progressed from a
known starting point, the Commission sought to measure how close a
program might be to demonstrating the first flight of a long range
ballistic missile. This approach requires that analysts extrapolate
a program's scope, scale, pace and direction beyond what the hard
evidence at hand unequivocally supports. It is in sharp contrast to
a narrow focus on the certain that obscures the almost-certain. The
approach helps reduce the effects of denial and deception efforts.
When strategically significant programs were assessed by narrowly
focusing on what is known, the assessments lagged the actual state
of the programs by two to eight years and in some cases completely
missed significant programs.
We chose to focus on what is left to be accomplished in the programs of potentially
threatening ballistic missile powers and alternative paths they can follow to
attain their goals. We reviewed program histories and current activities, including
foreign assistance, to determine whether a ballistic missile program acquired
the means to overcome its identified problems. We considered the multiple pathways
available for completing its development given the combination of expertise
and technology available to it and the circumstances in which it is operating.
This approach accepts as a basic premise that a power determined to possess
a long range missile, knowing that the U.S. is trying to track its every action
but aware of American intelligence methods and sources, will do its best to
deny information and to deceive the U.S. about its actual progress.
Because of these options available to emerging ballistic missile powers, the
Commission, unanimously recognizing that missile development and deployment
now follows new models, strongly urges the use of an expanded approach to intelligence
that assesses both inputs and outputs in other countries' ballistic missile
programs. We believe this approach is needed in order to capture both sooner
and more accurately the speed and magnitude of potential ballistic missile proliferation
in the post-Cold War world and to assess, in time, the various threats this
proliferation poses to the United States.
The Commission's key judgments are derived from applying this
methodology and examining the evidence in light of the individual
and collective experience of the nine Commissioners.
Ballistic missiles armed with WMD payloads pose a strategic
threat to the United States. This is not a distant threat.
Characterizing foreign assistance as a wild card is both incorrect
and misleading. Foreign assistance is pervasive, enabling and often
the preferred path to ballistic missile and WMD capability.
A new strategic environment now gives emerging ballistic missile
powers the capacity, through a combination of domestic development
and foreign assistance, to acquire the means to strike the U.S.
within about five years of a decision to acquire such a capability
(10 years in the case of Iraq). During several of those years, the
U.S. might not be aware that such a decision had been made.
Available alternative means of delivery can shorten the warning
time of deployment nearly to zero.
The threat is exacerbated by the ability of both existing and
emerging ballistic missile powers to hide their activities from the
U.S. and to deceive the U.S. about the pace, scope and direction of
their development and proliferation programs. Therefore, we
unanimously recommend that U.S. analyses, practices and policies
that depend on expectations of extended warning of deployment be
reviewed and, as appropriate, revised to reflect the reality of an
environment in which there may be little or no warning.
A. Year 2000 (Y2K) Computer Problem
The widely-discussed Year 2000 (Y2K) problem concerns computer
hardware with embedded clocks and software with date recognition
functions that still designate years with only two digits and are
programmed to interpret "00" as the year 1900 rather than 2000. The
tasks of reprogramming are immense and complex, and uncertainties
surrounding their pace and outcome plague many aspects of life and
commerce. The Commission judges that military and intelligence
operations are not immune to the effects of the Y2K problem.
Not only at the millennium but for some undetermined time before and after
it the Y2K problem can affect U.S. and Russian ballistic missile forces
and, to a lesser extent, those of China, the United Kingdom (U.K.) and
France. The U.S. particularly and Russia somewhat less so depend on computer-based
and computer-aided intelligence and surveillance and on automated processes
to assure that their ballistic missile forces will function under all conceivable
circumstances. The Y2K problem can potentially upset some of those calculations
by interfering with the capacity of the U.S. and Russia to:
Monitor the activities of each other at the strategic level,
including the disposition and posture of their conventional
Provide tactical warning of military operations, particularly
ballistic missile operations, through collection of data from
space, air and ground based sensors.
Process and fuse the data received from sensors in the command
and control nets.
Maintain positive control over ballistic missile forces and, if
automated responses to false data and warnings are triggered,
retain or regain control by the national military and political
Y2K problems are complex and not easy to deal with. Efforts are
underway to isolate critical systems from the problem, but they may
not totally eliminate vulnerabilities for two reasons:
No system is completely isolated. Command centers may have new software
installed, but if the support services-electric, water, gas and communications,
for example-are not self-contained the center may fail. Even if support
services are self-contained, the need for the center to function via computer
or by computer-dependent communication systems makes it vulnerable to Y2K
problems up or downstream from it.
Efforts to correct the problem provide their own attractive opportunities
for unfriendly agents and powers to tamper with mission-critical software.
Errors can be programmed which are designed to appear only much later and
in circumstances that cannot be anticipated. The Commission is troubled
by the amount of Y2K software work being performed in foreign countries,
particularly India, for U.S. industry and for the U.S. Government-including
elements of the Intelligence Community.
B. Revolution in Military Affairs and Information Warfare
The term "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) is used to describe the
impact of leading-edge military technologies and information warfare on the
conduct of military operations from the tactical to the strategic level. Key
RMA technologies include precision-guided munitions, stealth technology and
the use of space-based assets for command, control, communications, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as modern computational capabilities
to integrate these functions.
The U.S. military is adopting new weapon systems and tactical, operational
and strategic concepts based on the elements of the RMA. The objective is to
make U.S. forces lighter but more lethal, so that fewer personnel with less
equipment can strike over longer distances and with a far more powerful effect.
This gives prospective adversaries greater incentives to find new ways of offsetting
the new RMA-based capabilities of the U.S. and in particular to come up with
new "asymmetric" strategies-that is, strategies that can cripple U.S. ability
to use its forces without the adversary having to confront those forces directly.
These asymmetric strategies of potential adversaries of the U.S.
could well include ballistic missile operations against ports,
airfields, communications centers or urban and industrial areas.
Attacking ports and airfields the U.S. might use could severely
hamper operations and could undercut the military advantages U.S.
technological superiority provides. Interrupting communications
channels would make it more difficult to plan, organize and conduct
operations. Strikes by an adversary on urban and industrial centers
could change the nature of the conflict from what the U.S.
prefers-one confined to precision attacks against military forces
in the field and point targets in urban and industrial settings-to
one of indiscriminate damage to civilians and the infrastructure
In the 1991 Persian Gulf War Iraqi ballistic missiles threatened to undermine
the coalition's political strategy, and the coalition's military responses failed
to halt Iraqi ballistic missile attacks. Doctrinal shifts in Russia and China
have placed added emphasis on ballistic missile operations. Together, these
highlight the vulnerability to such operations of the U.S., its forces and its
allies, whether conducted by Russia, China or emerging ballistic missile powers.
A number of other nations are incorporating technical features of the RMA into
their forces. These include space-based surveillance, reconnaissance and communications
by way of both space and land-based fiber-optic networks (perhaps using civilian
assets), guidance from the space-based global positioning system/global navigation
satellite system (GPS/GLONASS) to increase the accuracy of missiles and the
computational capabilities needed to plan, organize and conduct operations.
Their capacity to conduct asymmetric operations with ballistic missiles, including
attacks on RMA sites in the U.S., will increase.
Attachment 2. Unclassified Working Papers
Table of Contents for Appendix III: Unclassified Working
Bruce Blair, "The Plight of the Russian Military and Nuclear
Stephen J. Blank, "Nuclear Strategy and Nuclear Proliferation in
W. Seth Carus, "Ballistic Missiles in Iran and Iraq:
W. Seth Carus, "Israeli Ballistic Missile Developments"
Richard T. Cupitt, "Export Controls and Missile Technology
Michael Eisenstadt, "Missiles and Weapons of Mass Destruction
(WMDs) in Iraq and Iran: Current Developments and Potential for
Gerrit W. Gong, "Assessing the Ballistic Missile Threat:
Dennis M. Gormley, "Transfer Pathways for Cruise Missiles"
Daniel Goure, "The Evolution of Russian Nuclear Forces: Working
to a Plan"
Daniel Goure, "WMD and Ballistic Missiles in South Asia"
Kurt Guthe and Keith Payne, "The Unique Value of Ballistic
Missiles for Deterrence and Coercion: The Chinese Case"
Selig S. Harrison, "Missile Capabilities in Northeast Asia:
Japan, South Korea and North Korea"
David C. Isby, "Barriers to Proliferation and Pathways to
Transfer: Building Ballistic Missile Capabilities Under MTCR"
Aaron Karp, "Technology Pathways to Ballistic Missiles in
Kenneth Katzman, "Iran's Long Range Missile Capabilities"
Kenneth Katzman, "Iraq's Long Range Missile Capabilities"
Michael Krepon, "India, Pakistan and the Ballistic Missile
Robbin Laird, "Rethinking the Role of Western States as Supplier
Robert A. Manning, "Missile Proliferation Threats in Northeast
John M. Myrah, "The Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles: What
Should We Do to Stop It?"
Keith Payne, "The Missile Technology Control Regime: European
Involvement and Compliance Issues"
Keith Payne and Robert Rudney, "The Unique Value of Ballistic
Missiles for Deterrence and Coercion"
Nadia Schadlow, "Patterns of Ukrainian Conduct"
Gilbert Siegert, "The Chinese Space Program"
Gilbert Siegert, "Potential Threats from Global Commercial Space
David J. Smith, "Friendly Countries and Missile Proliferation: