George W. Bush photo

Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley at the Proliferation Security Initiative Fifth Anniversary Senior Level Meeting

May 28, 2008

Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, D.C.

10:07 A.M. EDT

MR. HADLEY: Thank you, John. I want to thank all those from the State Department and other U.S. agencies who have helped to prepare this meeting. I appreciate the representatives of the more than 80 nations that are here today. Your Excellencies: I bring you greetings from President Bush. He thanks you for being here, and for the efforts of each of your nations to advance the cause of global security, freedom and peace.

Today the President is delivering the commencement address at the United States Air Force Academy. He is there to honor the newly commissioned officers and to describe the security challenges that they will face in the years ahead. The President will discuss how the challenges of this century are different from those of the 20th century, and how we must meet these challenges with new strategies, new capabilities, and new international partnerships. Today I want to talk to you about how the proliferation challenge is different in this new century and what we have to do to meet it.

During the Cold War, nuclear weapons dominated our national security perspective. We lived in a bipolar world. The United States and the Soviet Union relied heavily on nuclear weapons to deter global conflict. While they helped maintain stability, the risks were enormous. The challenge was to ensure that deterrence would hold -- and that these weapons would never be used.

During the Cold War, terrorism was a global problem -- but limited in two important ways. Terrorist groups had limited means, with limited access to the world's most dangerous weapons. And most terrorist groups had limited ends, with geographically specific goals. Several terror groups wanted Israel out of the Palestinian Territories. Hezbollah wanted Western power[s] out of Lebanon. And we saw the same limited focus with the FARC in Colombia, ETA in Spain, and LTTE in Sri Lanka.

During the Cold War, our approach to controlling proliferation was focused on nation-states -- not terrorists. The centerpiece of our effort was the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Under the NPT, states with nuclear weapons agreed to reduce their inventories, and the remaining states agreed to use nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes.

The key actor for monitoring the last part of this bargain was the International Atomic Energy Agency -- operating under the auspices of the United Nations. The IAEA safeguarded known nuclear facilities -- and ensured that the nations operating those facilities did not divert nuclear materials for non-peaceful uses. The IAEA had no enforcement mandate, no ability to inspect nuclear materials in transit or take punitive measures against violators -- and only limited capacity to detect covert nuclear activities.

But this approach worked fairly well during the Cold War, in part because most states were wary of upsetting the balance between the superpowers. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had great leverage -- and used it -- to discourage the emergence of new nuclear powers.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cold War ended. The ideology of communism, like the ideology of fascism before it, was discredited. And the world entered what appeared to be a period of relative stability -- despite ethnic conflict and terrorist attacks in many regions. Some felt that freedom faced no serious enemies, and that global security faced no serious challenges.

This illusion was shattered on September 11, 2001. With 9/11 we came to realize that we had entered a new world -- for which the institutions of the Cold War are not sufficient to provide security. Nowhere is that more evident than in meeting the challenge of proliferation.

In today's world, the United States and Russia are focused more on identifying mutual interests than strengthening mutual deterrence. The challenge is not building nuclear weapons but managing the legacy of excess nuclear stockpiles and ensuring that dangerous materials do not leak into the black market and go to the highest bidder.

In today's world, more states have pursued or are pursuing the capacity to develop and deploy the full range of weapons of mass destruction. Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen Libya develop an illegal nuclear program, North Korea conduct a nuclear weapons test, Iran enrich uranium, and Syria come close to completing a nuclear reactor that could have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons.

As rogue states pursue nuclear weapons and other WMD capabilities, responsible states feel increasing pressure to pursue their own weapons programs to protect themselves. This prospect multiplies the risk of what so many of our nations have worked for decades to prevent: a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and other regions of tension in the world.

In today's world, nation-states are not the only proliferation risk we face -- for non-state actors are active on both ends of the supply chain.

On the supplier end, we now see procurement organizations like the A.Q. Khan network -- which for many years supplied nuclear weapons programs in Libya, Iran, and North Korea. Khan used his government experience to go into business for himself. He had business partners in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East -- and exploited legitimate commerce as well as the black market.

On the consumer end of the supply chain, we see global terrorist organizations actively seeking WMD. These global terrorists do not have a homeland -- but seek safe haven in many nations. Al Qaeda and its affiliates have used training and logistics infrastructure in South Asia and Africa, financial nodes and support elements in the Middle East, and operational cells in Europe, North Africa, and here in North America. The safe haven of cyberspace allows these extremists to recruit, raise funds, and plan attacks without regard to national borders -- and gives modern extremists an immediate global reach unimaginable during the Cold War.

These new global terrorists are ideologically driven -- and have slaughtered the innocent in the United States and many nations represented in this room. They seek even more destructive power by attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As one Al Qaeda affiliate warned: "We will strike you with all the weapons available to us, including conventional, chemical, nuclear and biological weapons. You will see blacker days than the 11th September incidents."

So in today's world, the proliferation challenge is very different from what it was in the Cold War:

Then: One technology, nuclear weapons, was our primary proliferation concern. Now: We face increased threats from state and non-state actors seeking nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons -- and many more methods of delivery.

Then: Knowledge to make these weapons was a state secret. Now: Extremists can learn how to make a dirty bomb on the Internet.

Then: Only states had the infrastructure necessary to manufacture weapons. Now: Dual-use or multi-use technologies are commercially available -- and proliferation often hides behind legitimate commerce.

Then: Only states had the missiles or bombers needed to deploy weapons of mass destruction. Now: A truck is the only delivery system a terrorist needs.

Then: Arms control agreements and the IAEA seemed sufficient to meet the proliferation challenge. Now: Cold War institutions remain necessary, but not sufficient. And we need a new approach.

As we look at this new proliferation challenge, what do we need to do? What do we need -- how do we achieve our goal of keeping the world's most deadly weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people?

We must attack the problem comprehensively. Together we must: first, secure the sources of dangerous materials; second, dismantle the facilitation networks; third, interdict WMD-related materials in transit; fourth, disrupt the terrorist cells that seek these materials; fifth, strengthen our defenses; and sixth, deter the use of weapons of mass destruction on our people. Let me go through these one at a time.

First, we must secure the potential sources of weapons of mass destruction. One potential source is the legacy stockpiles of the Cold War. And we have good tools to work this problem -- including the Moscow Treaty between the United States and Russia, in which we agreed to reduce our operationally deployed nuclear weapons; the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, through which our two nations are dismantling former Soviet weapons and doing it safely; and the Bratislava Initiative, through which we are working to upgrade security at Russian nuclear storage facilities.

The need to ensure the security of nuclear inventories is not confined, however, to the states that once made up the Soviet Union. Last year we learned that the United States needed to improve its own procedures for ensuring the safety and security of nuclear weapons. All nations possessing these weapons have a responsibility to improve their own procedures and ensure that all their nuclear weapons and nuclear materials are secure.

Another potential source of dangerous materials are rogue states. We have many diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, and military tools available to influence the behavior of these states. In recent years, we have successfully used a combination of tools to reduce or eliminate proliferation risks posed by Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Yet North Korea and Iran remain great proliferation risks. We continue to address the risk posed by North Korea through the six party framework. North Korea has shut down plutonium production at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, and is disabling this facility. North Korea must fulfill its other obligations: including a full declaration of its nuclear programs that is complete, correct, and verifiable; dismantlement of the plutonium production infrastructure; abandonment of any alternate route for producing nuclear weapons material; and an end to all proliferation activity. We want a Korean Peninsula that is once again free of nuclear weapons.

With regard to Iran, the position of the United States and many nations in this room is clear: We will not betray future generations by allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is a particular worry since it is both a potential proliferator and an active state sponsor of terror -- and thus a potential route to WMD for terrorist groups. So with many international partners, we will continue to turn up the pressure on the regime over its uranium enrichment activity -- with diplomatic isolation, implementation of U.N. sanctions, and with additional financial pressure.

At the same time, we will continue to hold open the door for a negotiated solution that offers Iran economic, political, and security benefits if it will only give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. No one argues that Iran should not have a peaceful nuclear energy program. Indeed, safe nuclear energy programs should be encouraged -- but without the indigenous enrichment and reprocessing capabilities that give rise to proliferation risks. The President has proposed an assured fuel supply program that would eliminate the need for countries with peaceful programs to develop their own enrichment and reprocessing.

To walk through the door of negotiation, Iran must first verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program. We cannot allow the Iranian regime to use negotiations to stall for time, hedge its bets, and keep open an indigenous route to a nuclear weapon -- something certainly no one should want. If there is one thing I hope we can all agree on, it is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be disastrous for the peace of the Middle East and the world.

Second step, we must dismantle the facilitating networks that could supply dangerous weapons to rogue states and terrorists. The A.Q. Khan network had business partners in many nations -- and worked through the black and grey markets as well as legitimate commerce. Other proliferators continue the practice. Our nations must continue to use our diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement capabilities to shut down such facilitators and their financial backers -- and stop all those who would seek to copy their business model.

We will also disrupt these facilitating networks through the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. The United States and Russia founded this partnership -- and now more than 70 countries have joined us to exchange information, share best practices, and develop new solutions to the challenge of nuclear terrorism.

Third, we must interdict dangerous weapons, materials, and knowledge as they move through the avenues of global commerce: land, sea, air and cyberspace. One partnership we have built for this purpose is the Container Security Initiative -- which has helped improve port security in many of our nations. Yet our broadest partnership for interdicting dangerous weapons and materials is the one that brings us here today: the Proliferation Security Initiative.

PSI addresses a specific part of the problem: how to prevent proliferators from transferring weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials using the avenues of global commerce. PSI is not a formal treaty but a new kind of partnership: a voluntary association of nations dedicated to increasing their interdiction capabilities, and then using these capabilities quickly and effectively to disrupt trade in dangerous materials. PSI is not a hierarchical organization, but a decentralized, distributed network of states working together to confront and disrupt the distributed network of proliferators and facilitators.

PSI does not create a new enforcement mechanism. It uses existing enforcement capabilities effectively, cooperatively, and in a timely manner. Our nations must be able to act with the speed of commerce. If we are lucky, we must match the speed of a ship. If we are unlucky, we must match the speed of a jet plane.

PSI is not a replacement for the NPT, the IAEA, or the multilateral export control regimes -- but a way to build upon them and give them a new enforcement mechanism they did not have before. In PSI, cops and criminals do not co-exist in the organization. PSI is a group of nations committed to be cops, a group that defines criminals clearly, and a group committed to hold themselves and each other accountable for results.

President Bush launched PSI five years ago with the commitments of 11 nations. Today, more than 90 nations have endorsed its principles. Yet the success of PSI can't be measured by the number of nations it embraces, but by the effect they have on the ground.

One example of its success occurred in February 2007, when four nations represented in this room worked together to interdict equipment bound for Syria -- equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components. A firm in one nation had manufactured the equipment. A firm in another nation was the intermediary that sold it to Syria. The shipping company was flagged in a third nation. And customs officials at the port of a fourth nation were alerted to offload and inspect the equipment -- and send it back to the country of origin.

Interdictions like this one have been successful all over the world -- and have stopped many shipments of sensitive materials destined for Iran, North Korea, and Syria. These efforts often require coordination among multiple agencies of multiple governments, the deployment of diplomatic, law enforcement, and military capabilities, the cooperation of the private sector, and the ability to act in real time.

PSI requires each of our nations to improve our capabilities -- and the United States appreciates every nation that is making that effort. We also appreciate the many nations that have hosted exercises to develop our respective capabilities and ensure that we are ready to act swiftly and effectively when the time comes.

The fourth thing we must do to meet today's proliferation challenge is to disrupt terrorists' efforts to acquire WMD materials and to turn them into the weapons of terror. We will continue to target and dismantle terrorist groups and networks -- and those technical cells within them charged with acquiring and developing WMD. Our efforts include identifying suspect scientists and companies, disrupting those funding these efforts, and bringing to justice those unlawfully engaged in supporting their activities.

Fifth, we must strengthen our defenses against a potential WMD attack. We will continue to bolster our border and port security mechanisms, and better detect the movement of suspicious people, goods, and materials across our borders. We will continue to improve the way we analyze all information available to us, and get a clearer picture of the intentions of the terrorists and their facilitators, and their preferred methods of attack.

As we build these capabilities, we must also strengthen our capacity to respond and recover effectively should a WMD attack ever occur.

Sixth, we must make clear the consequences of any successful terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction -- and thereby seek to deter the use of these weapons against any of our nations. There is a real question whether terrorists, themselves, can be deterred. Deterrence may still play a role, however, if deterrence doctrine and policy are reframed in the context of the WMD threat we face.

First, deterrence can be strengthened if we can deny the benefits that possession of weapons of mass destruction are supposed to bring. A robust, layered defense against such weapons and the means to deliver them can discourage the effort to acquire such weapons by denying our enemies the ability to achieve the benefits they seek in these weapons in the first place.

Second, many terrorists value the perception of theological legitimacy for their actions. By encouraging debate over the morality of WMD terrorism, we can try to affect the strategic calculus of the terrorists and discourage them from resorting to these weapons.

Finally, deterrence policy targeted at those states, organizations, and individuals who might assist terrorists in obtaining or using WMD can help the terrorists -- help prevent the terrorists from ever gaining these weapons in the first place. The terrorists may not be deterrable themselves, but those they depend on for assistance may well be.

The United States has made clear for many years that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our people, our forces, and our friends and allies. Today we also make clear that the United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor or individual fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction -- whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.

President Bush has asked me to thank each of your nations for your efforts to help prevent the proliferation of the world's deadliest weapons. He believes all our nations must deepen our commitment and expand our efforts over the next five years. We have several opportunities:

First, information sharing is still not what it needs to be. The better information our nations have, whether it be intelligence, law enforcement, military, diplomatic, or commercial information -- the more quickly that information can be shared -- the more quickly we can act, and the more secure our nations will be.

Second, we must continue to increase our individual capacities. If there is a weak link amongst us, we can be sure the proliferators will find it. So each of us must strengthen our laws and export controls, exert full effort to enforce them, organize all levels of government to work together more effectively, and increase our levels of readiness.

Third, we cannot allow proliferators and facilitators to exploit the international financial system. We need to know our customers better, scrutinize suspect transactions, freeze the assets of bad actors, and close down the banks that facilitate their activities.

Finally, we must explain to our peoples the world we face in the 21st century and what we are doing to meet its challenges. This is no time to fall under the spell of an apparent calm or the illusion of false security. Much more work is needed -- and we will not be able to declare victory in the effort for many years to come.

Yet we can also assure our peoples that our capabilities and partnerships are stronger than ever before. We can encourage them to be confident of success -- even as they remain aware of the challenges we face.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 10:37 A.M. EDT

George W. Bush, Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley at the Proliferation Security Initiative Fifth Anniversary Senior Level Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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