Press Release - FACT SHEET: Obama's New Plan to Confront 21st Century Threats
Confronting 21st Century Threats
[From Senator Obama's remarks to be delivered later today at Purdue University, 07/16/08]
Conventional thinking has failed to adapt to a world of new threats. Barack Obama believes that a range of risks, both natural and manmade, can have major consequences for the security, prosperity, and well-being of Americans at home and abroad. We need a president who understands these new security threats - and who has effective strategies for addressing them. Barack Obama will be such a president. From the day he entered the U.S. Senate, he worked with Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) and others across the aisle to expand efforts to stop smuggling of nuclear material and keep conventional weapons out of terrorists' hands. He worked to combat infectious diseases around the world and increase funding for biomedical research and prevention. He worked to protect the privacy of Americans and will keep the country and its citizens safe and secure.
Barack Obama believes that we must urgently seek to reduce the risks from three potentially catastrophic threats: nuclear weapons, biological attacks, and cyber warfare. In an age of terrorism, these dangers take on new dimensions. Nuclear, biological, and cyber attack all pose the potential for large-scale destruction. The capacity to inflict such damage is proliferating not only to other countries, but potentially to terrorist groups as well. Indeed, the weapons of biological and cyber attack derive from commercial technologies that cost relatively little to acquire and can be used with near anonymity. Nuclear weapons and materials are spreading ever more widely. Barack Obama has laid out comprehensive strategies for combating these dangers to our security through a combination of presidential leadership, public investment, and private sector involvement. Barack Obama is focused on the real threats of today and tomorrow. America cannot afford another president who does not understand the real dangers confronting Americans.
Barack Obama's Strategy for Nuclear Security
The nuclear threat facing our nation and the world is qualitatively different from the threat we faced before. Today, we confront the possibility of terrorists bent on our destruction possessing a nuclear weapon or bomb-making materials. We also face the threat of more countries acquiring a nuclear bomb or the means to make one. The Bush administration and Senator John McCain have largely ignored these threats. While they went looking for nuclear weapons in Iraq (where there were none), they took their eyes off the real threat of terrorists and other rogue actors acquiring nuclear weapons. Barack Obama has a comprehensive strategy for nuclear security that will reduce the danger of nuclear terrorism, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities, and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Reduce the Danger of Nuclear Terrorism
* Secure Nuclear Weapons Materials in Four Years: Barack Obama will lead a global effort to secure all nuclear weapons materials at vulnerable sites within four years - the most effective way to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Barack Obama will work with Russia to make sure nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons materials in Russia and around the world are fully secured. He will work with other countries to develop and implement a comprehensive set of standards to protect nuclear materials from theft. He will increase funding by $1 billion a year to ensure that within four years, the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons are removed from all the world's most vulnerable sites and effective, lasting security measures are instituted for all remaining sites.
* Phase Out Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) from the Civil Sector: HEU is not needed for the vast majority of civilian purposes and most reactors using HEU should be converted to operate on low-enriched fuel that cannot be used in nuclear weapons or shut down so that terrorists cannot get their hands on it. With Barack Obama's leadership, the U.S. will lead the effort to remove HEU from vulnerable research reactor sites around the world, assist in the conversion process, give unneeded facilities incentives to shut down, enhance physical protection measures pending HEU removal, and blend down recovered civil HEU for use as power reactor fuel.
* Strengthen Policing and Interdiction Efforts: Barack Obama will institutionalize the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a global initiative aimed at stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. He will expand the responsibilities of its members, not only in stopping illicit nuclear shipments, but also in eradicating nuclear black market networks. A stronger PSI will produce greater international intelligence and police cooperation, maintain tougher export controls and criminal penalties for violations in countries around the world, and apply the tools developed to combat terrorist financing to shut down proliferators' financial networks.
* Build State Capacity to Prevent Theft, Diversion, or Spread of Nuclear Materials: The global effort to stop nuclear proliferation is only as strong as its weakest link. UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which mandates that all nations implement effective domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, provides a potentially powerful tool for getting countries to institute effective nonproliferation controls. The Bush administration has failed to make effective use of this tool. Barack Obama will give the effort new impetus, working to lay out the essential steps to put strong systems in place and mobilizing international financial support to help states take those steps.
* Convene a Summit on Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Nuclear terrorism is not only a security threat to the U.S., it is a global danger that affects everyone. Barack Obama will convene a summit in 2009 (and regularly thereafter) of leaders of Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and other key countries to agree on implementing many of these measures on a global basis. This will instill a process of continuous high-level accountability for all efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Prevent the Spread of Nuclear Weapons Capabilities
* Eliminate Iran's and North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Programs Through Tough, Direct Diplomacy: Barack Obama will use tough diplomacy - backed by real incentives and real pressures - to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Barack Obama will not take any options off the table, but he will emphasize first and foremost the power of American diplomacy and make clear the substantial benefits to Iran and North Korea of abandoning their dangerous nuclear programs while simultaneously conveying the enormous costs to them should they fail to do so.
* Strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): The IAEA is understaffed and under-resourced at a time when demand for its expertise are growing. Barack Obama will seek to ensure that the Agency gets the authority, information, people, and technology it needs to do its job. He will work to double the IAEA budget in the next four years (increasing the U.S. annual share to about $225 million). He will press countries to adopt the "Additional Protocol," -- which grants the IAEA the right to conduct more intrusive inspections, including at undeclared facilities - and seek agreement among members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group not to transfer nuclear technology to NPT countries that have not adopted the Additional Protocol. He will work to gain agreement on effective global standards for nuclear safety and security. And he will call for establishing IAEA verification procedures that go beyond the Additional Protocol to strengthen the agency's ability to detect clandestine facilities and activities.
* Control Fissile Materials: Barack Obama will lead a global effort to negotiate a verifiable treaty ending the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes. As a complementary step, Barack Obama will propose a new multilateral initiative to control already-produced fissile materials, under which nations will provide regular declarations of their fissile material holdings, secure their materials to the highest international standards of physical protection, declare increasing amounts of material as excess to defense needs, and transform such excess materials to forms no longer useable in nuclear weapons as soon as practicable.
* Prevent Nuclear Fuel from Becoming Nuclear Bombs: Barack Obama will work with other interested governments to establish a new international nuclear energy architecture - including an international nuclear fuel bank, international nuclear fuel cycle centers, and reliable fuel supply assurances - to meet growing demands for nuclear power without contributing to the proliferation of nuclear materials and fuel production facilities.
Strengthen the Nonproliferation Regime
* Set the Goal of a Nuclear-Free World: Barack Obama will set a new direction in nuclear weapons policy and show the world that America believes in its existing commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to work to ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons. Barack Obama fully supports reaffirming this goal, as called for by George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, and the specific steps they propose to move us in that direction. He has made clear that America will not disarm unilaterally. Indeed, as long as states retain nuclear weapons, the U.S. will maintain a nuclear deterrent that is strong, safe, secure, and reliable. But he will not authorize the development of new nuclear weapons. And he will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear policy.
* Seek Real, Verifiable Reductions in Nuclear Stockpiles: Barack Obama will seek deep, verifiable reductions in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons - whether deployed or non-deployed, whether strategic or non-strategic - and work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically by the end of his presidency. As a first step, Barack Obama will work to secure Russia's agreement to extend essential monitoring and verification provisions of the START I Treaty before it expires in December 2009. He will also immediately stand down all nuclear forces to be reduced under the Moscow Treaty and urge Russia to do the same. And he will initiate a high-level dialogue among all the declared nuclear weapons states on how to make their nuclear capabilities more transparent, create greater confidence, and move toward meaningful reductions and the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons.
* Work with Russia to Increase Warning and Decision Time: Keeping nuclear weapons ready to launch on a moment's notice is a dangerous relic of the Cold War. Such policies increase the risk of catastrophic accidents or miscalculation. Barack Obama believes that we must address this dangerous situation - something that George W. Bush promised to do when he campaigned for president back in 2000, but did not do once in office. As president, Barack Obama will work with Russia to end such Cold War policies in a mutual and verifiable manner.
* Secure CTBT Ratification: The United States has maintained a moratorium on testing since 1992. It signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, but it has not been ratified yet. Since the U.S. Senate last considered the treaty in 1999, significant progress has been made in our verification capability to detect nuclear explosions, even at extremely low yields, and to ensure confidence in the reliability of our nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing. We do - and should - continue to test the remaining components inside our nuclear weapons to ensure that they will remain safe and effective. Barack Obama will work with the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT at the earliest practical date and will then launch a diplomatic effort to bring on board other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force.
* Achieve Successful Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in 2010: The last NPT Review Conference in 2005 proved to be an embarrassing failure - in large part because of the Bush administration's refusal to even discuss the disarmament commitments that all parties to the treaty had made in 2000. Another such failure could severely weaken the global effort to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. Barack Obama will work with our allies and other countries to achieve a successful outcome in 2010 that strengthens the NPT. The initiatives Barack Obama pledges to undertake to enhance nuclear security and further U.S. commitments under the treaty will contribute greatly to that effort.
Organize the U.S. Government for success
* Appoint White House Coordinator for Nuclear Security: Everything involving nuclear weapons is inherently presidential and will require presidential leadership. Barack Obama will provide that leadership. He will appoint a deputy national security advisor to be in charge of coordinating all U.S. programs aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation. This person will work closely with him, the national security adviser, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and senior officials of the relevant cabinet departments, and will have budgetary oversight over all programs related to nuclear security.
* Strengthen Nuclear Risk Reduction Work at Defense, State, and Energy Departments: To ensure nuclear security is a top priority in our relations with other countries and international organizations, in our defense and military policy, and in our nuclear weapons policy, Barack Obama will organize the departments and staff that are responsible for these broad policy areas to ensure effective implementation of his comprehensive strategy for nuclear security.
Strengthen American Biosecurity
Biological weapons pose a serious and increasing national security risk. The anthrax letter attacks of the fall of 2001 that killed five people are still unsolved. Al Qaeda was attempting to develop biological weapons in Afghanistan before the U.S. discovered and disrupted its program in 2003. Al Qaeda or other adversaries may seek to use biological weapons to do great harm to American civilians or our military. The spectrum of possible biological threats is broad; it is unwise to assume that the next threat will look like the last one. We must not fixate on fighting the last war. The central concern is that as biological science and related technologies accelerate and as human and veterinary applications expand, the materials, skills and know-how needed to build and use bioweapons become ever more globally available. And biological weapons materials cannot be controlled in ways that nuclear weapons materials can.
* Prevent Bioterror Attacks: Barack Obama will strengthen U.S. intelligence collection overseas to identify and interdict would-be bioterrorists before they strike. Barack Obama will expand the U.S. government's bioforensics program for tracking the source of any biological weapon so that the U.S. will be able to rapidly identify any adversary who uses a biological weapon and respond surely and swiftly. Barack Obama will assist states to meet their obligations under UN Security Council resolution 1540 and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to prevent terrorists and other states from developing and acquiring biological weapons. Barack Obama will also work with the international community to make any use of disease as a weapon declared a crime against humanity. Together these steps will strengthen efforts to prevent and deter the use of biological weapons.
* Strengthen Institutions to Fight Terrorism. Overseas, Barack Obama will establish a Shared Security Partnership Program to invest $5 billion over three years to improve cooperation between U.S. and foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This program will include information sharing, as well as funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and the targeting of terrorist financing. This effort will focus on helping our partners succeed without repressive tactics, because brutality breeds terror-it does not defeat it.
* Build Capacity to Mitigate the Consequences of Bioterror Attacks: Biological weapons attacks could lead to large-scale epidemics that sicken and kill thousands and cause great disruption and economic loss. A well-planned, well-rehearsed, and rapidly executed epidemic response can dramatically diminish the consequences of such attacks. Barack Obama will support increased R&D to improve our sensor technologies to detect attacks at the earliest possible stage. He will ensure that decision-makers have the information and communication tools they need to manage disease outbreaks by linking health care providers, hospitals, and public health agencies. Much of what we need to do for bioterrorism defense will also improve our routine medical care and help prepare us to better cope with disasters of all kinds. Barack Obama's pledge to invest $10 billion per year over the next 5 years in electronic health information systems will not only improve routine health care, but in a biological crisis or other catastrophe, these systems will give health officials the crucial information they need to deploy resources and save lives. Barack Obama will also help hospitals form collaborative networks to deal with sudden surges in patients and will ensure that the U.S. has adequate supplies of medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tests and can get these vital products into the hands of those who need them.
* Improve Our Ability to Cope with Infectious Diseases: More than 30 new infectious diseases have emerged in the past two decades, including SARS, Ebola, and new lethal strains of influenza. Global travel and trade patterns in the 21st century mean that contagious disease can spread rapidly around the planet via humans, animals, plants and food. The consequences of such epidemics could be severe in terms of the numbers infected, societal disruption, and economic collapse. Improving the surge capacity and robustness of our health care system is a crucial goal in our defense against threats of all kinds.
* Improve America's Ability to Cope with Catastrophic Emergencies: Barack Obama recognizes that local and state emergency responses are crucial in responding to biological attacks or other major disasters. He will expand efforts to help build local and state programs and ensure they have the resources to respond to these disasters. The terrorist attacks of 2001 and the experience of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have also shown that the federal government also has critical responsibilities to fulfill in these kinds of disasters. Barack Obama will strengthen the federal government's partnership with local and state governments on these issues by improving the mechanisms for clear communication, eliminating redundant programs, and building on the key strengths possessed by each level of government. Barack Obama will make sure that the federal government does all it can to get people the information and resources they need to help protect themselves and their families in bioterror attacks and other disasters. Barack Obama introduced the Improving Emergency Medical Care and Response Act of 2007, which would have provided funding for programs in order to enhance emergency care systems throughout the country.
* Accelerate the Development of New Medicines, Vaccines, and Production Capabilities: The 21st century has been called the '˜biological century' because of revolutionary advances in the life sciences and associated technologies. Even though these advances create new risks, they also provide us with a fundamental, new understanding of how living organisms work. We must support and promote further advances in a responsible manner. These advances will yield immense benefits in everyday life and also provide the drugs and vaccines upon which we will rely for our biodefense. Barack Obama will build on America's unparalleled talent and advantage in science, technology, and engineering, and the powerful insights into biological systems that are emerging, to create new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tests and to manufacture these vital products much more quickly and efficiently than is now possible. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has failed to take full advantage of the Bioshield initiative. Because of the unpredictability of the mode of biological attack, Barack Obama will stress the need for broad-gauged vaccines and drugs and for more agile and responsive drug development and production systems. This effort will strengthen the U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical industry and create high-wage jobs.
* Lead an International Effort to Diminish Impact of Major Infectious Disease Epidemics: Senator Obama was one of the first legislators to recognize the dangers of a potential avian influenza pandemic and was successful in securing $25 million for U.S. agencies in Southeast Asia to combat and contain widespread outbreaks of avian flu. He also worked with other Senators to provide $4 billion in funding to the Centers for Disease Control to combat avian flu, including more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs that had been in short supply. Barack Obama will continue to promote international efforts to develop new diagnostics, vaccines, and medicines that will be available and affordable in all parts of the world.
Protect Our Information Networks
Information networks and computers play a vital role in every facet of our lives and are critical to our nation's economy, civil infrastructure, security, and military power. These networks, however, and the data that travels upon them, are under constant and increasing attack from foreign nations, terrorist organizations, and organized crime groups who are seeking to do damage to our nation, our companies, and our citizens. Despite mounting costs to consumers and major threats to the private sector, our national security, and our critical infrastructure, the Bush administration has been ineffective in protecting the nation's critical networks and computer systems. The administration delayed implementing its own 2003 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and, as a result the problems we now face are even more severe. In January 2008, the Bush administration made a desperate effort to "stop the bleeding" of sensitive information to competitors and criminals with the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, but, as with other administration initiatives, the president has chosen to shroud the plan in secrecy and proceed without adequate consultation rather than engaging the public and the private sector and leading the nation to address this threat. Today our nation still lacks a long-term strategy to address proliferating cyber espionage, to eliminate key points of vulnerability, and to help victims of everyday cyber crime ranging from online predators to identity theft. As president, Barack Obama will lead an effort, working with private industry, the research community and our citizens, to build a trustworthy and accountable cyber infrastructure that is resilient, protects America's competitive advantage, and advances our national and homeland security.
Make Cyber Security A Top Federal Priority
* Strengthen Federal Leadership on Cyber Security: The Bush administration was too slow on acting against the risks associated with cyberspace. Barack Obama will declare the cyber infrastructure a strategic asset, vital to national security and the global economy, and develop and deploy systems to protect it. Poor management by the Bush administration resulted in the loss of critical information by the Veterans' Administration and resulted in the disclosure of service members' personal information. An Obama administration will develop tight standards for securing America's personal information. He will establish the position of national cyber advisor who will report directly to the president and will be responsible for coordinating federal agency efforts and development of national cyber policy.
* Invest in Education in Math and Science: When Sputnik was launched in 1957, President Eisenhower used the event as a call to arms for Americans to help secure our country and to increase the number of students studying math and science via the National Defense Education Act. That educational base not only improved our national security and space programs but also led to our economic growth and innovation over the second half of the century. Our nation is again hearing a threatening "ping" in the distance, this time not from a single satellite in space but instead from millions of malicious computers over the Internet. Barack Obama will lead the nation to be prepared to meet this 21st-century challenge by investing again in math and science education that is vital to protecting our national security and our competitiveness.
* Initiate a Safe Computing R&D Effort: Our cyber infrastructure is fragile and vulnerable to attacks that can cause significant disruption to network operations and the integrity of information. We must enhance our information infrastructure to withstand disruption and ensure information is not breached or corrupted. Barack Obama will support an initiative to develop next-generation secure computers and networking for national security applications.
Ensure America's National Security
* Harden our Nation's Cyber Infrastructure: In the 21st century, the warfighting capability of the United States will increasingly rely on cyber systems for everything from logistics to battlefield command. Many of the nation's most vital systems in the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community have been compromised and critical information that could be used against us by our enemies in a time of war has been eliminated. Barack Obama will work with industry and academia to develop and deploy a new generation of secure hardware and software for our nation's critical cyber infrastructure.
* Develop a Comprehensive Cyber Security and Response Strategy: Our nation often has difficulty detecting cyber attack and does not have sufficient tools or capability to identify the perpetrator and respond. Improved situational awareness will make early warning possible to stop attacks before they can succeed and to bring perpetrators to justice. Barack Obama will ensure that his administration develops a Cyber Security Strategy that ensures that we have the ability to identify our attackers and a plan for how to respond that will be measured but effective.
Ensure America's Economic and Personal Security
* Protect the IT Infrastructure That Keeps America's Economy Safe: The public and private infrastructure that keeps America running, from electricity, water, and sewage, to oil and gas, air traffic control, voting systems, and finance are increasingly brought online to improve efficiency and reduce costs. As a result, these vital systems have become susceptible to online attacks originating from anywhere in the world. In 2007, the Idaho National Laboratory demonstrated that electrical generators could be physically destroyed by cyber attacks. Barack Obama will work with the private sector to establish tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience for critical infrastructure.
* Prevent Corporate Cyber-Espionage: Maintaining America's competitiveness in the global economy requires keeping our innovative edge in software, engineering, pharmaceuticals, and other fields. Innovations in these fields are being stolen online from U.S. businesses at an alarming rate. These losses are making America less safe and less competitive and costing us jobs here at home. Barack Obama will work with industry to develop the systems necessary to protect our nation's trade secrets and our research and development.
* Develop a Cyber Crime Strategy to Minimize the Opportunities for Criminal Profit: Black markets for stolen information support increasingly virulent international cyber crime. Barack Obama will shut down the mechanisms used to transmit criminal profits by shutting down untraceable Internet payment schemes. Barack Obama will also initiate a grant and training program to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to detect and prosecute cyber crime.
* Mandate Standards for Securing Personal Data: Nearly 10 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year, costing more than $55 billion. We must ensure that the privacy of personnel data in computer systems is better protected. The federal government must partner with industry and our citizens to secure personal data stored on government and private systems. An Obama administration will institute a common standard for securing such data across industries.
* Require Companies to Disclose Personal Information Data Breaches: As president, Barack Obama will back strong legislation to protect the rights of individuals in the information age. California and other states have laws requiring a company that may have disclosed a resident's personal information without authorization to inform the victim of the disclosure. Barack Obama believes that all Americans deserve the same right to know and will push for comparable federal legislation.
Barack Obama, Press Release - FACT SHEET: Obama's New Plan to Confront 21st Century Threats Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/292902