June 10, 1998

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM ACTING UNDER SECRETARY OF
STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS AND
DIRECTOR, U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY

Defense Special Weapons Agency
International Conference on Controlling Arms
Philadelphia, PA

It is a great pleasure to be back with DSWA.

Many years ago, over a beer, Walter Cronkite asked Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra what he had really been thinking in the last minutes before blasting off on his first mission. Many of you may recall Schirra saying, "Well, I was lying there looking up at all the dials and buttons and toggle switches on the control panel and I thought to myself, 'Good God, just think, this thing was built by the lowest bidder'."

Actually, that one-liner aside, Schirra spent years commending NASA's constant and vigilant monitoring and the safety features built into the craft -- which allowed him to see his mission as just another test flight with nothing to fear.

Today's arms control environment brought that memory to mind. We are having some harrowing moments. Central principles of global security have been challenged in South Asia. But, as Secretary Albright described in some detail earlier today, a fundamentally sound strategy is in place, and it helps frame both the policy and the means of response -- not running off in all directions, but through steady intelligence, policymaking, strategic planning and diplomacy. And like Wally Schirra, we're grateful for the vigilance and diligence of arms control professionals around the world, many of them here in this room, and their dedication to the mission at hand.

* * * *

On nuclear weapons that long-term strategy has included, among other things, a permanent and near-universal NPT, completion of comprehensive test ban negotiations, technical progress toward better detection, in turn enabling strengthened safeguards for the IAEA, progress with key states -- including Russia and China -- on technology controls, and relentless, methodical, day-by-day work on the front lines of nonproliferation to sift intelligence, draft demarches, and interrupt shipments. In short, better laws, better enforcement, and stiffened international resolve.

All of those efforts are the predicate for the reality that we have been undergirding these past several weeks and that India and Pakistan are now beginning to face -- that their tests have planted them on the wrong side of history.

  • India and Pakistan have pushed to the forefront weapons the world is leaving behind.

  • While the order of the day is economic growth and cutting edge science, India and Pakistan are diverting resources to destructive technologies a half-century old. This is no triumph of technology, only a surrender of self-control.

  • India's decision-makers expected nuclear detonations to open the door to a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council; instead the door is now locked, bolted and barred.

Coupled with nationalistic chest-thumping, and threats to deploy and even use nuclear weapons, those underground detonations could energize a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

The most immediate concern is the danger of moves and miscalculations that would shift the odds dramatically toward a nuclear exchange. During the Cold War, we could at least have seen the nuclear "sword of Damocles" commence its swing from thousands of miles away. In contrast, if India and Pakistan deploy nuclear armed missiles, there will be two countries adamantly hostile to one another, with exposed, vulnerable nuclear arsenals as little as three minutes away from each other, and with no reliable way of knowing if an attack is, or is not, underway. Instead of "launch on warning" or "launch under attack," someone has characterized their likely posture then as "launch when the wind blows."

As the President has said, the Indian and Pakistani people are now more at risk, not more secure. So the most immediate message to both is to cease their inflammatory rhetoric -- adopt a cooling off period, restore bilateral dialogue, avoid provocative actions in Kashmir, and address the root causes of their tensions.

Beyond that, we are vigorously pursuing a comprehensive strategy to address the destabilizing effects of these developments on the region and to reinforce the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

As a leading element, the world must register its disapproval. India and Pakistan must understand the depth and durability of international ire. In the process, we notify other would-be proliferators that nuclear programs carry untenable costs.

India and Pakistan are diplomatically isolated. The G-8 in Birmingham, the P-5 in Geneva, the Organization of American States, and nations East and West, developed and developing, have forcefully condemned the tests. Beyond that, U.S. and other country sanctions, though by no means universal, will mean billions of dollars in lost trade and defeated possibilities.

The next steps were spelled out by the P-5 last week in Geneva, and endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council over the weekend -- prompt and unconditional signatures on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, no more fissile material production, negotiation and early conclusion of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, no weaponization or deployment of missiles, commitments against sensitive exports.

The ultimate objective remains for India and Pakistan to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states. In the meantime, there is no chance the Treaty will be modified to accommodate their self-declared nuclear status.

Some call this a policy of denial. It is not that. But it is a policy of refusal. And it will persist.

Obviously this approach has a long way to go. As of now, both countries seem still to be in a celebratory mood. But the "morning after" is coming. Our task, with many others, is to ensure that truly sober thinking happens in the cold light of dawn, and then the business of reparation can begin.

* * * *

Events in South Asia have brought all arms control issues back to the front burner of world affairs. As everyone here knows, our agenda was full before South Asia shook. But now it has been rediscovered. And leaving aside apocalyptic headlines about the "coming age of proliferation," the more thoughtful commentary has called for a reinvigorated commitment to arms control -- showing, perhaps, that there may be silver linings even in mushroom clouds.

We should use the occasion to complete some unfinished business, beginning with the most salient task -- ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Some say the South Asia tests nullify the test ban. This morning Secretary Albright compared that to saying any violation of standards is a reason not to have standards. I guess the crime rate would go down if we had no criminal laws -- but we'd be a good deal less safe.

Some also argued that failure to detect the tests in advance undermined the case for the test ban. But the CTBT does not depend on predicting tests but on catching tests if they happen. As to that, more than 20 seismic sensors around the world -- in Europe, Scandinavia, Western Africa, and the South Pacific -- picked up the signal of India's tests on May 11. Within minutes the data pointed unambiguously toward an underground nuclear explosion.

These sensors are just one line of the CTBT's verification resources. Its International Monitoring System will provide others, and the Treaty also recognizes national technical means and allows any State Party to request an on-site inspection. The CTBT, combined with unified political and economic will, builds a significant deterrent to nuclear proliferation.

What the CTBT needs most is U.S. ratification. Especially now, we need to reinforce U.S. leadership for nonproliferation, by not legally reserving for ourselves something we do not need and will not use anyway, and something we and the rest of the world have rightly condemned in South Asia.

* * * *

There is unfinished work on the Chemical Weapons Convention. It has been in force for over a year. The U.S. is fully adhering to the military provisions of the treaty. Over seventy percent of OPCW inspectors' time in the first year has been spent in the U.S.

But only at military sites. We cannot yet comply with the treaty's industry provisions, because implementing legislation still awaits clean action by the Congress. Now it has been linked to broad, inflexible sanctions legislation aimed at Russia, which the President will have to veto. When effective U.S. leadership on nonproliferation is so crucial, is it really good strategy to make U.S. compliance with a ratified treaty the subject of a tug of war over unrelated issues?

* * * *

We have unfinished business on biological weapons. The President's initiative has two parts: first, to significantly increase counter-terrorist training and preparations; and second, to develop a strong compliance and transparency regime for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which is long on prohibitions and woefully short on enforcement.

The proposed BWC regime will emphasize transparency from each state party while simultaneously protecting national security and confidential business information (CBI). Balancing those equities will be hard but crucial for us. Consider that of 150 primary patents for new biotech products in 1995, 122 were issued to U.S. firms. Accordingly, each element of the regime, such as data declarations and investigations, is undergoing meticulous consultation with the U.S. biotechnology industry and our extensive bio-defense community. We aim to complete a framework by the end of this year.

* * * *

We also need to move to the next phase in strategic arms control, to fulfill the promise of Helsinki. Our own preparations for START III are well advanced, and we have had some expert level discussions with our Russian counterparts to begin framing issues and considering how the negotiations will proceed. Actual negotiations depend on Russian ratification of START II. Regrettably, we learned today that the Russian Duma has delayed action. Both sides now must be mindful of the fact that many countries will couple their condemnations of India and Pakistan's tests with demands for more progress on nuclear arms reductions, as part of the NPT bargain. We have nothing to apologize for -- but we also have much work ahead, and need to get rolling.

* * * *

As you all know, the agenda has other important items, including landmines, the fissile material cutoff, crucial bilateral efforts with Russia, China, and others. But I want to at least give a fair nod in the direction of your conference theme -- Arms Control and the Revolution in Military Affairs -- by posing some thoughts about critical infrastructure.

The Revolution in Military Affairs is heavily predicated on stand-off offensive capabilities using precision-guided weapons, dramatic improvements in C4I capabilities and rapidly expanding applications of information warfare. Military operations depend increasingly on information dominance. Secure communications, GPS, and "smart" technologies are all developed, implemented or controlled through computers and digitization.

And so we must worry that the high-tech backbone of our modern military is far more vulnerable to computer viruses and cyber-invasions than to armor or bombs. We need to defend our defenses.

And we must also defend the country against these new threats. The United States has both spawned and benefited most from the revolution in information and digital systems. All of our critical infrastructures now rely on computers, advanced telecommunications, including to an ever-increasing degree, the Internet, for their control and management, for their interaction with other infrastructures, and for communications with their suppliers and customers.

And so we must also worry that if not properly protected, every community in America -- every bank, every business, every transportation, communication, utility, financial, and security system -- could be frozen, disabled, compromised, and crashed.

With all its advantages, the very nature of the Information Age -- inherently open and accessible -- now finds us vulnerable in virtually every essential service that underpins our government and society.

  • The Washington Post recently reported that computer hackers got into the military's computer system in the Pacific via a Korean network and demonstrated that it could have shut down the entire Pacific power grid. Fortunately, these hackers were part of a U.S. government team examining the security of government systems and did no real damage.

  • Last year, just as the Pentagon was preparing for possible military action against Iraq, Air Force and Navy bases were hit by computer intrusions traced to the Persian Gulf. It turned out not to be Saddam Hussein trying to disrupt our military preparations, but some teenagers in California out for fun.

Absent the right protection, hackers could shut down power grids, clean out bank accounts, or disable air traffic controls. Some dozen countries -- including Libya, Iran and Iraq -- have information warfare programs. As Senator Nunn has already noted, terrorists groups like Hezbollah have home pages on the Internet.

The President addressed this potential national security disaster in his commencement address to the Naval Academy a few weeks ago. And, following a two-year joint public-private effort on critical infrastructure protection, the White House also issued Presidential Decision Directive 63, launching a national initiative to address what some have taken to calling "Weapons of Mass Disruption." The President has ordered all necessary measures to swiftly eliminate any significant vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructures.

* * * *

The State Department, reinforced by ACDA, will lead the foreign affairs element of the directive. This exact character of our work remains to be determined, but I have been thinking about it under both of my hats -- arms control and international security.

It is not only an American problem. Nearly all nations are vulnerable to cyber attacks and nearly all nations have reason to fear for their infrastructure security. And one of the key defining features of our new information infrastructure is that it is globally interconnected. The Cyber War threat is clearly an international cause inviting diplomatic, multinational approaches.

Historically, our foreign affairs establishment has led the way in designing a variety of arms control approaches. In this new era of cyber weaponry, we will no doubt play a key role again. And this, certainly, is a prime candidate for the practice I urged at your conference last year, that arms controllers and defense planners must do better at seeing their work as a collaboration, perhaps beginning with the question, what, if anything, would we control, and how?

This arms control question in the age of cyber weapons is a work in progress, and while we may not have much experience to guide us, we also have the opportunity to create methods, rules, agreements, norms, and even technologies to make Critical Infrastructure Protection meaningful from the outset.

We might find a model in the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Ultimately it may be in our interest to establish international norms and to coordinate national policies to identify and respond to threats.

* * * *

Specific roles for broader diplomacy have yet to be developed, but they, too, will be important. For example:

  • At the most basic level, in real time, diplomacy will have an obvious role if we have information on a threat to the U.S. information infrastructure from a source in another nation.

  • Many domestic initiatives have obvious international corollaries, such as for a broad program of awareness and education of the Info War threat, and strategies for cooperation and sharing information.

  • U.S. laws will be changed, but to little effect if a threat can simply move to a computer terminal linked to the same network from across the border. Diplomacy will be needed to harmonize national approaches.

  • Or what global institutions exist or might be created to deal with the international dimension. Can we find appropriate precedents in our NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) or the ITU (International Telecommunications Union)?

The bottom line is responding to Info War vulnerabilities and Critical Infrastructure Protection demands public and private participation, arms control and foreign policy experience, defense and high-tech expertise, and the willingness of all to push the parameters of how we view threats to national security. The foreign affairs community has traversed a steep learning curve already, but the issues we uncover, and our responses to them, are bound to escalate sharply in the months ahead.

* * *

Adding Cyber War concerns to an arms control plate that carries so much might be seen as risky. But each of these separate issues re-enforces one another. Each successful arms control endeavor, each agreement reached or treaty in force, each nation made more cooperative -- are together the fabric that makes up a secure America.

The noted American journalist Jacob Riis used to advise that if you went to watch a stonecutter at work and you saw him break a mighty stone, you should know it wasn't that one blow that did it but the hundreds that came before.

That is a good description of arms control. As we marshal all our resources to contain and reverse a potential catastrophe in South Asia -- as we continue to wear down the threats of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons -- as we step up to the new threat of Info War -- all these are the single blows that together make for the mighty accomplishment of a safer, more secure, and prosperous world.

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