of Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet before the Senate Select
Committee on Intelligence, February 6, 2002
Threat - Converging Dangers in a Post 9/11 World
Testimony of Director of Central Intelligence
George J. Tenet
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
6 February 2002
Mr. Chairman, I appear before you this year under circumstances that are
extraordinary and historic for reasons I need not recount. Never before
has the subject of this annual threat briefing had more immediate resonance.
Never before have the dangers been more clear or more present.
September 11 brought
together and brought homeliterallyseveral vital threats to
the United States and its interests that we have long been aware of. It
is the convergence of these threats that I want to emphasize with you
today: the connection between terrorists and other enemies of this country;
the weapons of mass destruction they seek to use against us; and the social,
economic, and political tensions across the world that they exploit in
mobilizing their followers. September 11 demonstrated the dangers that
arise when these threats convergeand it reminds us that we overlook
at our own peril the impact of crises in remote parts of the world.
of threats has created the world I will present to you todaya world
in which dangers exist not only in those places where we have most often
focused our attention, but also in other areas that demand it:
In places like Somalia,
where the absence of a national government has created an environment
in which groups sympathetic to al-Qaida have offered terrorists
an operational base and potential haven.
In places like Indonesia, where political instability, separatist and
ethnic tensions, and protracted violence are hampering economic recovery
and fueling Islamic extremism.
In places like Colombia, where leftist insurgents who make much of their
money from drug trafficking are escalating their assault on the governmentfurther
undermining economic prospects and fueling a cycle of violence.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, in places like Connecticut, where the death
of a 94-year-old woman in her own home of anthrax poisoning can arouse
our worst fears about what our enemies might try to do to us.
These threats demand
our utmost response. The United States has clearly demonstrated since
September 11 that it is up to the challenge. But make no mistake: despite
the battles we have won in Afghanistan, we remain a nation at war.
Last year I told you that Usama Bin Ladin and the al-Qaida network
were the most immediate and serious threat this country faced. This remains
true today despite the progress we have made in Afghanistan and in disrupting
the network elsewhere. We assess that Al-Qaida and other terrorist
groups will continue to plan to attack this country and its interests
abroad. Their modus operandi is to have multiple attack plans in the works
simultaneously, and to have al-Qaida cells in place to conduct them.
We know that terrorists
have considered attacks in the US against high-profile government or private
facilities, famous landmarks, and US infrastructure nodes such as airports,
bridges, harbors, and dams. High profile events such as the Olympics or
last weekends Super Bowl also fit the terrorists interest
in striking another blow within the United States that would command worldwide
Al-Qaida also has plans to strike against US and allied targets
in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. American diplomatic
and military installations are at high riskespecially in East Africa,
Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Operations against US targets could be launched by al-Qaida cells
already in place in major cities in Europe and the Middle East. Al-Qaida
can also exploit its presence or connections to other groups in such countries
as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Although the September 11 attacks suggest that al-Qaida and other
terrorists will continue to use conventional weapons, one of our highest
concerns is their stated readiness to attempt unconventional attacks against
us. As early as 1998, Bin Ladin publicly declared that acquiring unconventional
weapons was a religious duty.
worldwide have ready access to information on chemical, biological, and
even nuclear weapons via the Internet, and we know that al-Qaida
was working to acquire some of the most dangerous chemical agents and
toxins. Documents recovered from al-Qaida facilities in Afghanistan
show that Bin Ladin was pursuing a sophisticated biological weapons research
We also believe that Bin Ladin was seeking to acquire or develop a nuclear
device. Al-Qaida may be pursuing a radioactive dispersal devicewhat
some call a dirty bomb.
Alternatively, al-Qaida or other terrorist groups might also try
to launch conventional attacks against the chemical or nuclear industrial
infrastructure of the United States to cause widespread toxic or radiological
We are also alert to the possibility of cyber warfare attack by terrorists.
September 11 demonstrated our dependence on critical infrastructure systems
that rely on electronic and computer networks. Attacks of this nature
will become an increasingly viable option for terrorists as they and other
foreign adversaries become more familiar with these targets, and the technologies
required to attack them.
The terrorist threat
goes well beyond al-Qaida. The situation in the Middle East continues
to fuel terrorism and anti-US sentiment worldwide. Groups like the Palestine
Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and HAMAS have escalated their violence against Israel,
and the intifada has rejuvenated once-dormant groups like the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine. If these groups feel that US actions
are threatening their existence, they may begin targeting Americans directlyas
Hizballahs terrorist wing already does.
The terrorist threat
also goes beyond Islamic extremists and the Muslim world. The Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) poses a serious threat to US interests
in Latin America because it associates us with the government it is fighting
The same is true in Turkey, where the Revolutionary Peoples Liberation
Party/Front has publicly criticized the United States and our operations
We are also watching states like Iran and Iraq that continue to support
Iran continues to provide supportincluding arms transfersto
Palestinian rejectionist groups and Hizballah. Tehran has also failed
to move decisively against al-Qaida members who have relocated to
Iran from Afghanistan.
Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorists, including giving sanctuary
to Abu Nidal.
The war on terrorism has dealt severe blows to al-Qaida and its
leadership. The group has been denied its safehaven and strategic command
center in Afghanistan. Drawing on both our own assets and increased cooperation
from allies around the world, we are uncovering terrorists plans
and breaking up their cells. These efforts have yielded the arrest of
nearly 1,000 al-Qaida operatives in over 60 countries, and have
disrupted terrorist operations and potential terrorist attacks.
Mr. Chairman, Bin
Ladin did not believe that we would invade his sanctuary. He saw the United
States as soft, impatient, unprepared, and fearful of a long, bloody war
of attrition. He did not count on the fact that we had lined up allies
that could help us overcome barriers of terrain and culture. He did not
know about the collection and operational initiatives that would allow
us to strikewith great accuracyat the heart of the Taliban
and al-Qaida. He underestimated our capabilities, our readiness,
and our resolve.
That said, I must
repeat that al-Qaida has not yet been destroyed. It and other like-minded
groups remain willing and able to strike us. Al-Qaida leaders still
at large are working to reconstitute the organization and to resume its
terrorist operations. We must eradicate these organizations by denying
them their sources of financing and eliminating their ability to hijack
charitable organizations for their terrorist purposes. We must be prepared
for a long war, and we must not falter.
Mr. Chairman, we
must also look beyond the immediate danger of terrorist attacks to the
conditions that allow terrorism to take root around the world. These conditions
are no less threatening to US national security than terrorism itself.
The problems that terrorists exploitpoverty, alienation, and ethnic
tensionswill grow more acute over the next decade. This will especially
be the case in those parts of the world that have served as the most fertile
recruiting grounds for Islamic extremist groups.
We have already seenin
Afghanistan and elsewherethat domestic unrest and conflict in weak
states is one of the factors that create an environment conducive to terrorism.
More importantly, demographic trends tell us that the worlds poorest
and most politically unstable regionswhich include parts of the
Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africawill have the largest youth populations
in the world over the next two decades and beyond. Most of these countries
will lack the economic institutions or resources to effectively integrate
these youth into society.
THE MUSLIM WORLD
All of these challenges come together in parts of the Muslim world, and
let me give you just one example. One of the places where they converge
that has the greatest long-term impact on any society is its educational
system. Primary and secondary education in parts of the Muslim world is
often dominated by an interpretation of Islam that teaches intolerance
and hatred. The graduates of these schoolsmadrasasprovide
the foot soldiers for many of the Islamic militant groups that operate
throughout the Muslim world.
Let me underscore
what the President has affirmed: Islam itself is neither an enemy nor
a threat to the United States. But the increasing anger toward the Westand
toward governments friendly to usamong Islamic extremists and their
sympathizers clearly is a threat to us. We have seenand continue
to seethese dynamics play out across the Muslim world. Let me briefly
address their manifestation in several key countries.
Our campaign in
Afghanistan has made great progress, but the road ahead is fraught with
challenges. The Afghan people, with international assistance, are working
to overcome a traditionally weak central government, a devastated infrastructure,
a grave humanitarian crisis, and ethnic divisions that deepened over the
last 20 years of conflict. The next few months will be an especially fragile
chief Hamid Karzai will have to play a delicate balancing game domestically.
Remaining al Qaida fighters in the eastern provinces, and ongoing
power struggles among Pashtun leaders there underscore the volatility
of tribal and personal relations that Karzai must navigate.
Taliban elements still at large and remaining pockets of Arab fighters
could also threaten the security of those involved in reconstruction and
humanitarian operations. Some leaders in the new political order may allow
the continuation of opium cultivation to secure advantages against their
rivals for power.
Let me move next to Pakistan. September 11 and the US response to it were
the most profound external events for Pakistan since the Soviet invasion
of Afghanistan in 1979, and the US response to that. The Musharraf governments
alignment with the USand its abandonment of nearly a decade of support
for the Talibanrepresent a fundamental political shift with inherent
political risks because of the militant Islamic and anti-American sentiments
that exist within Pakistan.
intention to establish a moderate, tolerant Islamic stateas outlined
in his 12 January speechis being welcomed by most Pakistanis, but
he will still have to confront major vested interests. The speech is energizing
debate across the Muslim world about which vision of Islam is the right
one for the future of the Islamic community.
a clear and forceful distinction between a narrow, intolerant, and conflict-ridden
vision of the past and an inclusive, tolerant, and peace-oriented vision
of the future.
The speech also addressed the jihad issue by citing the distinction the
Prophet Muhammad made between the smaller jihad involving
violence and the greater jihad that focuses on eliminating
poverty and helping the needy.
Although September 11 highlighted the challenges that India-Pakistan relations
pose for US policy, the attack on the Indian parliament on December 13
was even more destabilizingresulting as it did in new calls for
military action against Pakistan, and subsequent mobilization on both
sides. The chance of war between these two nuclear-armed states is higher
than at any point since 1971. If India were to conduct large scale offensive
operations into Pakistani Kashmir, Pakistan might retaliate with strikes
of its own in the belief that its nuclear deterrent would limit the scope
of an Indian counterattack.
Both India and Pakistan
are publicly downplaying the risks of nuclear conflict in the current
crisis. We are deeply concerned, however, that a conventional waronce
beguncould escalate into a nuclear confrontation.
Let me turn now to Iraq. Saddam has responded to our progress in Afghanistan
with a political and diplomatic charm offensive to make it appear that
Baghdad is becoming more flexible on UN sanctions and inspections issues.
Last month he sent Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to Moscow and Beijing
to profess Iraqs new openness to meet its UN obligations and to
seek their support.
isolation is also decreasing as support for the sanctions regime erodes
among other states in the region. Saddam has carefully cultivated neighboring
states, drawing them into economically dependent relationships in hopes
of further undermining their support for the sanctions. The profits he
gains from these relationships provide him the means to reward key supporters
and, more importantly, to fund his pursuit of WMD. His calculus is never
about bettering or helping the Iraqi people.
Let me be clear:
Saddam remains a threat. He is determined to thwart UN sanctions, press
ahead with weapons of mass destruction, and resurrect the military force
he had before the Gulf war. Today, he maintains his vise grip on the levers
of power through a pervasive intelligence and security apparatus, and
even his reduced military forcewhich is less than half its pre-war
sizeremains capable of defeating more poorly armed internal opposition
groups and threatening Iraqs neighbors.
As I said earlier,
we continue to watch Iraqs involvement in terrorist activities.
Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets
to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contacts with
al-Qaida. Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but
the two sides mutual antipathy toward the United States and the
Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is
possibleeven though Saddam is well aware that such activity would
carry serious consequences.
In Iran, we are concerned
that the reform movement may be losing its momentum. For almost five years,
President Khatami and his reformist supporters have been stymied by Supreme
Leader Khamenei and the hardliners.
The hardliners have
systematically used the unelected institutions they controlthe security
forces, the judiciary, and the Guardians Councilto block reforms
that challenge their entrenched interests. They have closed newspapers,
forced members of Khatamis cabinet from office, and arrested those
who have dared to speak out against their tactics.
Discontent with the current domestic situation is widespread and cuts
across the social spectrum. Complaints focus on the lack of pluralism
and government accountability, social restrictions, and poor economic
performance. Frustrations are growing as the populace sees elected institutions
such as the Majles and the Presidency unable to break the hardliners
hold on power.
The hardline regime appears secure for now because security forces have
easily contained dissenters and arrested potential opposition leaders.
No one has emerged to rally reformers into a forceful movement for change,
and the Iranian public appears to prefer gradual reform to another revolution.
But the equilibrium is fragile and could be upset by a miscalculation
by either the reformers or the hardline clerics.
For all of this,
reform is not dead. We must remember that the people of Iran have demonstrated
in four national elections since 1997 that they want change and have grown
disillusioned with the promises of the revolution. Social, intellectual,
and political developments are proceeding, civil institutions are growing,
and new newspapers open as others are closed.
The initial signs
of Tehran's cooperation and common cause with us in Afghanistan are being
eclipsed by Iranian efforts to undermine US influence there. While Iran's
officials express a shared interest in a stable government in Afghanistan,
its security forces appear bent on countering the US presence. This seeming
contradiction in behavior reflects deep-seated suspicions among Tehran's
clerics that the United States is committed to encircling and overthrowing
thema fear that could quickly erupt in attacks against our interests.
We have seen little
sign of a reduction in Irans support for terrorism in the past year.
Its participation in the attempt to transfer arms to the Palestinian Authority
via the Karine-A probably was intended to escalate the violence of the
intifada and strengthen the position of Palestinian elements that prefer
armed conflict with Israel.
The current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been raging
for almost a year and a half, and it continues to deteriorate. The violence
has hardened the publics positions on both sides and increased the
longstanding animosity between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian
leader Arafat. Although many Israelis and Palestinians say they believe
that ultimately the conflict can only be resolved through negotiations,
the absence of any meaningful security cooperation between Israel and
the Palestinian Authorityand the escalating and uncontrolled activities
of the Palestine Islamic Jihad and HAMASmake any progress extremely
We are concerned
that this environment creates opportunities for any number of playersmost
notably Iranto take steps that will result in further escalation
of violence by radical Palestinian groups.
At the same time, the continued violence threatens to weaken the political
center in the Arab world, and increases the challenge for our Arab allies
to balance their support for us against the demands of their publics.
I turn now to the subject of proliferation. I would like to start by drawing
your attention to several disturbing trends in this important area. WMD
programs are becoming more advanced and effective as they mature, and
as countries of concern become more aggressive in pursuing them. This
is exacerbated by the diffusion of technology over timewhich enables
proliferators to draw on the experience of others and to develop more
advanced weapons more quickly than they could otherwise. Proliferators
are also becoming more self-sufficient. And they are taking advantage
of the dual-use nature of WMD- and missile-related technologies to establish
advanced production capabilities and to conduct WMD- and missile-related
research under the guise of legitimate commercial or scientific activity.
Let me address in
turn the primary categories of WMD proliferation, starting with chemical
and biological weapons. The CBW threat continues to grow for a variety
of reasons, and to present us with monitoring challenges. The dual-use
nature of many CW and BW agents complicates our assessment of offensive
programs. Many CW and BW production capabilities are hidden in plants
that are virtually indistinguishable from genuine commercial facilities.
And the technology behind CW and BW agents is spreading. We assess there
is a significant risk within the next few years that we could confront
an adversaryeither terrorists or a rogue statewho possesses
On the nuclear side,
we are concerned about the possibility of significant nuclear technology
transfers going undetected. This reinforces our need to more closely examine
emerging nuclear programs for sudden leaps in capability. Factors working
against us include the difficulty of monitoring and controlling technology
transfers, the emergence of new suppliers to covert nuclear weapons programs,
and the possibility of illicitly acquiring fissile material. All of these
can shorten timelines and increase the chances of proliferation surprise.
On the missile side,
the proliferation of ICBM and cruise missile designs and technology has
raised the threat to the US from WMD delivery systems to a critical threshold.
As outlined in our recent National Intelligence Estimate on the subject,
most Intelligence Community agencies project that by 2015 the US most
likely will face ICBM threats from North Korea and Iran, and possibly
from Iraq. This is in addition to the longstanding missile forces of Russia
and China. Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles pose a significant
of concern are also increasingly interested in acquiring a land-attack
cruise missile (LACM) capability. By the end of the decade, LACMs could
pose a serious threat to not only our deployed forces, but possibly even
the US mainland.
Russian entities continue to provide other countries with technology and
expertise applicable to CW, BW, nuclear, and ballistic and cruise missile
projects. Russia appears to be the first choice of proliferant states
seeking the most advanced technology and training. These sales are a major
source of funds for Russian commercial and defense industries and military
to supply significant assistance on nearly all aspects of Tehrans
nuclear program. It is also providing Iran assistance on long-range ballistic
Chinese firms remain key suppliers of missile-related technologies to
Pakistan, Iran, and several other countries. This is in spite of Beijings
November 2000 missile pledge not to assist in any way countries seeking
to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Most of Chinas efforts
involve solid-propellant ballistic missile development for countries that
are largely dependent on Chinese expertise and materials, but it has also
sold cruise missiles to countries of concern such as Iran.
We are closely watching
Beijings compliance with its bilateral commitment in 1996 not to
assist unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, and its pledge in 1997 not to
provide any new nuclear cooperation to Iran.
Chinese firms have in the past supplied dual-use CW-related production
equipment and technology to Iran. We remain concerned that they may try
to circumvent the CW-related export controls that Beijing has promulgated
since acceding to the CWC and the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
North Korea continues to export complete ballistic missiles and production
capabilities along with related raw materials, components, and expertise.
Profits from these sales help Pyongyang to support its missileand
probably other WMDdevelopment programs, and in turn generate new
products to offer to its customersprimarily Iran, Libya, Syria,
and Egypt. North Korea continues to comply with the terms of the Agreed
Framework that are directly related to the freeze on its reactor program,
but Pyongyang has warned that it is prepared to walk away from the
agreement if it concluded that the United States was not living up to
its end of the deal.
Iraq continues to
build and expand an infrastructure capable of producing WMD. Baghdad is
expanding its civilian chemical industry in ways that could be diverted
quickly to CW production. We believe it also maintains an active and capable
BW program; Iraq told UNSCOM it had worked with several BW agents.
We believe Baghdad
continues to pursue ballistic missile capabilities that exceed the restrictions
imposed by UN resolutions. With substantial foreign assistance, it could
flight-test a longer-range ballistic missile within the next five years.
It may also have retained the capability to deliver BW or CW agents using
modified aircraft or other unmanned aerial vehicles.
We believe Saddam never abandoned his nuclear weapons program. Iraq retains
a significant number of nuclear scientists, program documentation, and
probably some dual-use manufacturing infrastructure that could support
a reinvigorated nuclear weapons program. Baghdads access to foreign
expertise could support a rejuvenated program, but our major near-term
concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain access to fissile material.
Iran remains a serious concern because of its across-the-board pursuit
of WMD and missile capabilities. Tehran may be able to indigenously produce
enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by late this decade. Obtaining
material from outside could cut years from this estimate. Iran may also
flight-test an ICBM later this decade, using either Russian or North Korean
assistance. Having already deployed several types of UAVsincluding
some in an attack roleIran may seek to develop or otherwise acquire
more sophisticated LACMs. It also continues to pursue dual-use equipment
and expertise that could help to expand its BW arsenal, and to maintain
a large CW stockpile.
Both India and Pakistan
are working on the doctrine and tactics for more advanced nuclear weapons,
producing fissile material, and increasing their nuclear stockpiles. We
have continuing concerns that both sides may not be done with nuclear
testing. Nor can we rule out the possibility that either country could
deploy their most advanced nuclear weapons without additional testing.
Both countries also continue development of long-range nuclear-capable
ballistic missiles, and plan to field cruise missiles with a land-attack
As I have mentioned
in years past, we face several unique challenges in trying to detect WMD
acquisition by proliferant states and non-state actors. Their use of denial
and deception tactics, and their access to a tremendous amount of information
in open sources about WMD production, complicate our efforts. So does
their exploitation of space. The unique spaceborne advantage that the
US has enjoyed over the past few decades is eroding as more countriesincluding
China and Indiafield increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites.
Today there are three commercial satellites collecting high-resolution
imagery, much of it openly marketed. Foreign military, intelligence, and
terrorist organizations are exploiting thisalong with commercially
available navigation and communications servicesto enhance the planning
and conduct of their operations.
Let me mention here
another danger that is closely related to proliferation: the changing
character of warfare itself. As demonstrated by September 11, we increasingly
are facing real or potential adversaries whose main goal is to cause the
United States pain and suffering, rather than to achieve traditional military
objectives. Their inability to match US military power is driving some
to invest in asymmetric niche capabilities. We must remain
alert to indications that our adversaries are pursuing such capabilities
Mr. Chairman, let me turn now to other areas of the world where the US
has key interests, beginning with Russia. The most striking development
regarding Russia over the past year has been Moscows greater engagement
with the United States. Even before September 11, President Putin had
moved to engage the US as part of a broader effort to integrate Russia
more fully into the West, modernize its economy, and regain international
status and influence. This strategic shift away from a zero-sum view of
relations with the United States is consistent with Putins stated
desire to address the many socioeconomic problems that cloud Russias
During his second
year in office, Putin moved strongly to advance his policy agenda. He
pushed the Duma to pass key economic legislation on budget reform, legitimizing
urban property sales, flattening and simplifying tax rates, and reducing
red tape for small businesses. His support for his economic team and its
fiscal rigor positioned Russia to pay back wages and pensions to state
workers, amass a post-Soviet high of almost $39 billion in reserves, and
meet the major foreign debt coming due this year (about $14 billion) and
next (about $16 billion).
military reform by placing his top lieutenant atop the Defense Ministry
and increasing military spending for the second straight yeareven
as he forced tough decisions on de-emphasizing strategic forces, and pushing
for a leaner, better-equipped conventional military force.
This progress is promising, and Putin is trying to build a strong Presidency
that can ensure these reforms are implemented across Russiawhile
managing a fragmented bureaucracy beset by informal networks that serve
private interests. In his quest to build a strong state, however, he is
trying to establish parameters within which political forces must operate.
This managed democracy is illustrated by his continuing moves
against independent national television companies.
On the economic front,
Putin will have to take on bank reform, overhaul of Russias entrenched
monopolies, and judicial reform to move the country closer to a Western-style
market economy and attract much-needed foreign investment.
Putin has made no headway in Chechnya. Despite his hint in September of
a possible dialogue with Chechen moderates, the fighting has intensified
in recent months, and thousands of Chechen guerrillasand their fellow
Arab mujahedeen fightersremain. Moscow seems unwilling to consider
the compromises necessary to reach a settlement, while divisions among
the Chechens make it hard to find a representative interlocutor. The war,
meanwhile, threatens to spill over into neighboring Georgia.
After September 11,
Putin emphatically chose to join us in the fight against terrorism. The
Kremlin blames Islamic radicalism for the conflict in Chechnya and believes
it to be a serious threat to Russia. Moscow sees the US-led counterterrorism
effortparticularly the demise of the Taliban regimeas an important
gain in countering the radical Islamic threat to Russia and Central Asia.
So far, Putins
outreach to the United States has incurred little political damage, largely
because of his strong domestic standing. Recent Russian media polls show
his public approval ratings at around 80 percent. The depth of support
within key elites, however, is unclearparticularly within the military
and security services. Public comments by some senior military officers
indicate that elements of the military doubt that the international situation
has changed sufficiently to overcome deeply rooted suspicions of US intentions.
Moscow retains fundamental
differences with Washington on key issues, and suspicion about US motives
persists among Russian conservativesespecially within the military
and security services. Putin has called the intended US withdrawal from
the ABM treaty a mistake, but has downplayed its impact on
Russia. At the same time, Moscow is likely to pursue a variety of countermeasures
and new weapons systems to defeat a deployed US missile defense.
I turn next to China. Last year I told you that Chinas drive to
become a great power was coming more sharply into focus. The challenge,
I said, was that Beijing saw the United States as the primary obstacle
to its realization of that goal. This was in spite of the fact that Chinese
leaders at the same time judged that they needed to maintain good ties
with Washington. A lot has happened in US-China relations over the past
year, from the tenseness of the EP-3 episode in April to the positive
image of President Bush and Jiang Zemin standing together in Shanghai
last fall, highlighting our shared fight against terrorism.
September 11 changed
the context of Chinas approach to us, but it did not change the
fundamentals. China is developing an increasingly competitive economy
and building a modern military force with the ultimate objective of asserting
itself as a great power in East Asia. And although Beijing joined the
coalition against terrorism, it remains deeply skeptical of US intentions
in Central and South Asia. It fears that we are gaining regional influence
at Chinas expense, and it views our encouragement of a Japanese
military role in counterterrorism as support for Japanese rearmamentsomething
the Chinese firmly oppose.
As always, Beijings
approach to the United States must be viewed against the backdrop of Chinas
domestic politics. I told you last year that the approach of a major leadership
transition and Chinas accession to WTO would soon be coloring all
of Beijings actions. Both of those benchmarks are now upon us. The
16th Communist Party Congress will be held this fall, and China is now
confronting the obligations of WTO membership.
On the leadership
side, Beijing is likely to be preoccupied this year with succession jockeying,
as top leaders decide who will get what positionsand who will retireat
the Party Congress and in the changeover in government positions that
will follow next spring. This preoccupation is likely to translate into
a cautious and defensive approach on most policy issues. It probably also
translates into a persistently nationalist foreign policy, as each of
the contenders in the succession contest will be obliged to avoid any
hint of being soft on the United States.
into the WTO underscores the trepidation the succession contenders will
have about maintaining internal stability. WTO membership is a major challenge
to Chinese stability because the economic requirements of accession will
upset already disaffected sectors of the population and increase unemployment.
If Chinas leaders stumble in WTO implementationand even if
they succeedthey will face rising socioeconomic tensions at a time
when the stakes in the succession contest are pushing them toward a cautious
response to problems. In the case of social unrest, that response is more
likely to be harsh than accommodative toward the population at large.
The Taiwan issue
remains central. Cross-strait relations remain at a stalemate, but there
are competing trend lines behind that. Chinese leaders seemed somewhat
complacent last year that the growing economic integration across the
Taiwan Strait was boosting Beijings long-term leverage. The results
of Taiwans legislative elections in December, however, strengthened
President Chens hand domestically. Although Beijings latest
policy statementinviting members of Chens party to visit the
mainlandwas designed as a conciliatory gesture, Beijing might resume
a more confrontational stance if it suspects him of using his electoral
mandate to move toward independence.
Taiwan also remains
the focus of Chinas military modernization programs. Over the past
year, Beijings military training exercises have taken on an increasingly
real-world focus, emphasizing rigorous practice in operational capabilities
and improving the militarys actual ability to use force. This is
aimed not only at Taiwan but also at increasing the risk to the United
States itself in any future Taiwan contingency. China also continues to
upgrade and expand the conventional short-range ballistic missile force
it has arrayed against Taiwan.
Beijing also continues
to make progress towards fielding its first generation of road mobile
strategic missilesthe DF-31. A longer-range version capable of reaching
targets in the US will become operational later in the decade.
Staying within East Asia for a moment, let me update you on North Korea.
The suspension last year of engagement between Pyongyang, Seoul,
and Washington reinforced the concerns I cited last year about Kim Chong-ils
intentions toward us and our allies in Northeast Asia. Kims reluctance
to pursue constructive dialogue with the South or to undertake meaningful
reforms suggests that he remains focused on maintaining internal controlat
the expense of addressing the fundamental economic failures that keep
the North mired in poverty and pose a long-term threat to the countrys
stability. North Koreas large standing army continues to be a priority
claimant on scarce resources, and we have seen no evidence that Pyongyang
has abandoned its goal of eventual reunification of the Peninsula under
the Norths control.
The cumulative effects
of prolonged economic mismanagement have left the country increasingly
susceptible to the possibility of state failure. North Korea faces deepening
economic deprivation and the return of famine in the absence of fundamental
economic reforms and the large-scale international humanitarian assistance
it receivesan annual average of 1 million metric tons of food aid
over the last five years. It has ignored international efforts to address
the systemic agricultural problems that exacerbate the Norths chronic
food shortages. Grain production appears to have roughly stabilized, but
it still falls far short of the level required to meet minimum nutritional
needs for the population. Large numbers of North Koreans face long-term
health damage as a result of prolonged malnutrition and collapse of the
public health network.
Other important regions of the developing world are test cases for many
of the political, social, and demographic trends I identified earliertrends
that pose latent or growing challenges to US interests, and sometimes
fuel terrorists. I have already mentioned Southeast Asia in this respect,
citing the rise of Islamic extremism in Indonesia and terrorist links
in the Philippines.
Latin America is
becoming increasingly volatile as the potential for instability there
grows. The region has been whipsawed by five economic crises in as many
years, and the economic impact of September 11 worsened an already bleak
outlook for regional economies as the global slump reduces demand for
In this context,
I am particularly concerned about Venezuela, our third largest supplier
of petroleum. Domestic unhappiness with President Chavezs Bolivarian
revolution is growing, economic conditions have deteriorated with
the fall in oil prices, and the crisis atmosphere is likely to worsen.
In Argentina, President Duhalde is trying to maintain public order while
putting into place the groundwork for recovery from economic collapse,
but his support base is thin.
Colombia too remains
highly volatile. The peace process there faces many obstacles, and a significant
increase in violenceespecially from the FARCmay be in the
offing. Colombias tenuous security situation is taking a toll on
the economy and increasing the dangers for US military advisers in the
country. Together, the difficult security and economic conditions have
hampered Bogotas ability to implement Plan Colombias counterdrug
and social programs. Colombia remains the cornerstone of the worlds
cocaine trade, and the largest source of heroin for the US market.
The chronic problems of Sub-Saharan Africa make it, too, fertile ground
for direct and indirect threats to US interests. Governments without accountability
and natural disasters have left Africa with the highest concentration
of human misery in the world. It is the only region where average incomes
have declined since 1970, and Africans have the worlds lowest life
expectancy at birth. These problems have been compounded by the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, which will kill more than 2 million Africans this year, making
it the leading source of mortality in the region.
Given these grim
facts, the risk of state failures in Sub-Saharan Africa will remain high.
In the past decade, the collapse of governments in Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda,
Congo-Kinshasa, and elsewhere has led the United States and other international
partners to provide hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid, and
to deploy thousands of peacekeepers. A number of other African statesincluding
Zimbabwe and Liberiaare poised to follow the same downward spiral.
In Zimbabwe, President Mugabe's attempts to rig the presidential election
scheduled for next month increases the chances of a collapse in law and
order that could spill over into South Africa and other neighbors. The
UN-monitored truce between Ethiopia and Eritrea also remains fragile.
Finally, let me briefly mention the Balkans, the importance of which is
underlined by the continuing US military presence there. International
peacekeeping troops, with a crucial core from NATO, are key to maintaining
stability in the region.
In Macedonia, the
Framework Agreement brokered by the United States and the EU has eased
tensions by increasing the ethnic Albanians political role, but
it remains fragile and most of the agreement has yet to be implemented.
Ethnic Slavs are worried about losing their dominance in the country.
If they obstruct implementation of the accord, many Albanians could decide
that the Slav-dominated governmentand by extension the international
communitycannot be trusted.
US and other international
forces are most at risk in Bosnia, where Islamic extremists from outside
the region played an important role in the ethnic conflicts of the 1990s.
There is considerable sympathy for international Islamic causes among
the Muslim community in Bosnia. Some of the mujahedin who fought in the
Bosnian wars of the early 1990s stayed there. These factors combine with
others present throughout the Balkansweak border controls, large
amounts of weapons, and pervasive corruption and organized crimeto
sustain an ongoing threat to US forces there.
Mr. Chairman, I want to end my presentation by reaffirming what the President
has said on many occasions regarding the threats we face from terrorists
and other adversaries. We cannotand will notrelax our guard
against these enemies. If we did so, the terrorists would have won. And
that will not happen. The terrorists, rather, should stand warned that
we will not falter in our efforts, and in our commitment, until the threat
they pose to us has been eliminated.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I welcome any questions you and your colleagues have for me.
As of February 7, 2002,
this document was also available online at http://www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/dci_speech_02062002.html