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Pre se nt e r: Se cre t ary o f De f e nse William S. Co he n
April 28, 19 9 7 8:4 5 AM EDT
Do D Ne ws Brie f ing: Se cre t ary o f De f e nse William S. Co he n Co hen's keyno te address at the Co nference o n Terro rism, Weapo ns o f Mass Destructio n, and U.S. Strategy at the Geo rgia Center, Mahler Audito rium, University o f Geo rgia, Athens, Ga. The event is part o f the Sam Nunn Po licy Fo rum being ho sted by the University o f Geo rgia. Secretary Co hen is jo ined by Sen. Sam Nunn and Sen. Richard G. Lugar.] Secretary Co hen: Senato r Nunn, thank yo u very much. As Senato r Nunn has indicated, he and I have wo rked fo r many years to gether, alo ng with Senato r Lugar. The two o f these gentlemen I feel are perhaps the mo st co urageo us and visio nary to have served in the Senate. They were largely respo nsible, o f co urse, fo r ado pting the so -called Nunn/Lugar legislatio n. I'll co mment o n that later during the co urse o f the mo rning, but I've had o ccasio n to meet with a number o f Russian co unterparts, and as we go thro ugh vario us translatio ns o f the co mmunicatio ns that we're having, the two wo rds they are able to articulate very clearly, they say 'Nunn/Lugar, Nunn/Lugar. So they kno w exactly what that means, and that means the Co o perative Thre'at Reductio n Act that these two gentlemen were indispensable in shepherding thro ugh the United States Co ngress. It was Nunn/Lugar I that dealt with the reductio n o f nuclear weapo ns between the United States and the So viet Unio n in terms o f trying to co me to grips with ho w we helped the Russians dismantle hundreds o f their nuclear weapo ns, and also helped them with their destructio n o f chemical weapo ns. But they, o f co urse, have lo o ked beyo nd simply that particular relatio nship, which is very impo rtant, but also lo o king to the future that we face as far as the rise o f terro rism -- bo th internatio nal and do mestic; and finding ways in which the Department o f Defense can beco me invo lved in helping lo cal states and lo cal agencies to deal with the threat o f terro rism which is quite likely to increase in the co ming years. It's a pleasure fo r me to be here. Bo th Senato r Nunn and Senato r Lugar are clo se friends and I lo o k fo rward to , I think, a very pro ductive seminar. Once again demo nstrating that altho ugh Senato r Nunn has left public service in the Senate, he has no t left public service as far as the natio n is co ncerned. It's a pleasure fo r me to be here, Sam. Senato r Nunn: Thank yo u very much, Bill. . ..Let me ask if there are any questio ns fo r Secretary o f Defense Co hen. Q: The dual co ntainment po licy in Iran and Iraq, do yo u think that's co nducive to regio nal stability in that regio n? And do yo u think can cause further terro rism in the United States? That type o f co ntainment po licy in the Middle East. A: I think Secretary Albright articulated o ur po licy as far as dealing with Iraq, that it's clear that we have been unable to strike any kind o f a pro ductive relatio nship with Saddam Hussein, and as so o n as Saddam Hussein is no lo nger the head o f that go vernment, that there's new regime that fo llo ws him, that we will lo o k fo rward to finding ways in which we co uld engage them in a much mo re pro ductive fashio n, particularly after they co mply with all o f the UN sanctio ns. There's an eagerness o n o ur part to do that. But I think as lo ng as
he remains in o ffice as the head o f that state, it's unlikely that we co uld have anything but the current po licy in place, with very little pro spects fo r relief. With respect to Iran, I think Iran co ntinues to present a lo ng term threat to the regio n. They are acquiring and have acquired weapo ns o f mass destructio n, substantial levels o f chemicals and we believe bio lo gical weapo ns as well. They have made an effo rt to acquire nuclear capability. So I think that o ur po licy o f dual co ntainment is the right o ne, and we are go ing to enco urage o ur allies to suppo rt that o ne. Q: What do es it mean that Clinto n (inaudible) pro liferatio n? A: To the extent that we see the level o f co mmunicatio n available to day, the Internet and o ther types o f interwo ven co mmunicative skills and abilities, we're go ing to see info rmatio n co ntinue to spread as to ho w these weapo ns can be, in fact, manufactured in a ho me-gro wn labo rato ry, as such. So it's a serio us pro blem as far as living in the info rmatio n age that peo ple who are acquiring this kind o f info rmatio n will no t act respo nsibly, but rather act in a terro rist type o f fashio n. We've seen by way o f example o f the Wo rld Trade Center the internatio nal aspects o f internatio nal terro rism co ming to o ur ho me territo ry. We've also seen do mestic terro rism with the Oklaho ma bo mbing. So it's a real threat that's here to day. It's likely to intensify in the years to co me as mo re and mo re gro ups have access to this kind o f info rmatio n and the ability to pro duce them. Q: Ho w prepared is the U.S. Go vernment to deal with (inaudible)? A: I think we have to really intensify o ur effo rts. That's the reaso n fo r the Nunn/Lugar II pro gram. That's the reaso n why it's a lo cal respo nsibility, as such, but the Department o f Defense is go ing to be taking the lead as far as supervising the interagency wo rking gro ups, and to make the assessments as to what needs to be do ne. So we're go ing to identify tho se 120 cities and wo rk with them very clo sely to make sure that they can prepare themselves fo r what is likely to be a threat well into the future. Q: Let me ask yo u specifically abo ut last week's scare here in Washingto n, and what we might have learned fro m ho w prepared we are to deal with that (inaudible), at B'nai Brith. A: Well, it po ints o ut the nature o f the threat. It turned o ut to be a false threat under the circumstances. But as we've learned in the intelligence co mmunity, we had so mething called - and we have James Wo o lsey here to perhaps even address this questio n abo ut phanto m mo les. The mere fear that there is a mo le within an agency can set o ff a chain reactio n and a hunt fo r that particular mo le which can paralyze the agency fo r weeks and mo nths and years even, in a search. The same thing is true abo ut just the false scare o f a threat o f using so me kind o f a chemical weapo n o r a bio lo gical o ne. There are so me repo rts, fo r example, that so me co untries have been trying to co nstruct so mething like an Ebo la Virus, and that wo uld be a very dangero us pheno meno n, to say the least. Alvin To effler has written abo ut this in terms o f so me scientists in their labo rato ries trying to devise certain types o f patho gens that wo uld be ethnic specific so that they co uld just eliminate certain ethnic gro ups and races; and o thers are designing so me so rt o f engineering, so me so rt o f insects that can destro y specific cro ps. Others are engaging even in an eco - type o f terro rism whereby they can alter the climate, set o ff earthquakes, vo lcano es remo tely thro ugh the use o f electro magnetic waves. So there are plenty o f ingenio us minds o ut there that are at wo rk finding ways in which they can wreak terro r upo n o ther natio ns. It's real, and that's the reaso n why we have to intensify o ur effo rts, and that's why this is so impo rtant. Q: What is respo nse to (inaudible)? A: We ho pe we will have access to the defecto r. In fact I was recently in So uth Ko rea and talked with vario us o fficials in So uth Ko rea. As so o n as they co mplete their o wn interro gatio n o f this defecto r, we will have access to that individual. But much o f what he has said to date is reflected in the writings that he prepared last year. This is prio r to his defectio n. One wo uld no t expect a po tential defecto r to be writing abo ut anything o ther than what the o fficial do ctrine o r do gma is o f the No rth Ko rean go vernment at that time. He is saying essentially what we have kno wn fo r a lo ng, lo ng time. Namely, that No rth Ko rea po ses a very serio us threat against So uth Ko rea, and po tentially even Japan, by virtue o f having the fo urth largest army in the wo rld, by having 6 0 0 ,0 0 0 o r mo re tro o ps po ised within 10 0 kilo meters o f Seo ul, o f po ssessing many SCUD missiles, also the po tential o f chemically armed warheads, the attempt to acquire nuclear weapo ns. So we kno w they have this po tential, and the questio n really is go ing to be what's in their hearts and minds at this po int? Do they intend to try to launch such an attack in the immediate, fo reseeable future? That we can o nly speculate abo ut, but that's the reaso n why we are so well prepared to defend against such an attack to deter it; and to send a message that it wo uld be abso lutely an act o f suicide fo r the No rth Ko reans to launch an attack. They co uld do great damage in the sho rt run, but they wo uld be devastated in respo nse. So we're ho ping we can find ways to bring them to the bargaining table -- the Party o f Fo ur Talks -- and see if we can't put them o n a path to ward peace instead o f threatening any kind o f devastating attack upo n the So uth. Q: . ..a little bit abo ut the situatio n in (inaudible)? A: I really do n't have much mo re info rmatio n than has been in the press at this po int. The Department has no t been called upo n to act in this regard just yet, so I'm no t at liberty to
A: I really do n't have much mo re info rmatio n than has been in the press at this po int. The Department has no t been called upo n to act in this regard just yet, so I'm no t at liberty to give yo u any mo re info rmatio n than yo u already have. Q: . ..the Administratio n's plans to expand NATO to mo re Euro pean co untries. Is there a terro rism element? Or will expanding NATO help yo u in any way in terms o f (inaudible)? Or is it really unrelated? A: I think the two are unrelated. There is a legitimate debate that will take place in terms o f the pace o f enlargement o r whether there sho uld be enlargement. Secretary Albright and I testified last week befo re the Senate Armed Services Co mmittee, and it was a very, I think, pro ductive debate. It's so mething that Senato r Nunn, I think, feels very stro ngly abo ut as well. The two o f us, I think, fo und o urselves o n the Senate Flo o r last year saying it was time fo r the American peo ple to start debating this issue. So it's very impo rtant and there will be legitimate differences o f o pinio n, but it's impo rtant that we bring this to the Senate fo r full debate and disclo sure, and bring it to the American peo ple. But I do ubt if it's related to the spread o f terro rism whatso ever. Senato r Nunn: Thank yo u very much.