June 4, 1996 - Issue: Vol. 142, No. 80 — Daily Edition104th Congress (1995 - 1996) - 2nd Session
DEFEND AMERICA ACT OF 1996; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 80
(Senate - June 04, 1996)
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[Pages S5741-S5742] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] DEFEND AMERICA ACT OF 1996 Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, Let me emphasize that I regard the Defend America Act of 1996 as a vital piece of legislation--one which provides a clear and concise blueprint for protecting the American people from the growing threat of attack from ballistic missiles carrying nuclear chemical or biological warheads. I am also convinced, Mr. President, beyond peradventure, that it is critical that the United States begin immediately the 8-year task of building and deploying a national missile defense. Finally, I am disappointed that this legislation is being subjected to a filibuster. This past winter, shortly after the Clinton administration vetoed the missile defense provisions in the 1996 Defense Authorization Act, I, along with others, questioned the wisdom of the administration's stated assumption that no country ``other than the declared nuclear powers'' would threaten the ``continental'' United States with a ballistic missile for at least 15 years. An incredible statement. I was astonished then and I am astonished now, when I think about it, by the intellectual bankruptcy of such a statement. Mr. President, I shall make four points in this regard: First, I continue to wonder how the administration could so cavalierly make decisions about the deployment of a national missile defense, while explicitly excluding declared nuclear powers from the threat calculus. One has only to consider China, which fields dozens of submarine- launched ballistic missiles, hundreds of warheads on heavy bombers, roughly 24 medium and long-range ballistic missiles, and has several crash modernization initiatives in progress. Moreover, China intends to deploy, by the end of this century, four new types of ballistic missiles. Furthermore, the United States has very clear indications that Red China is, at this very moment, pursuing MIRV technology. Now, then, Mr. President, this is the very same country, mind you, that has [[Page S5742]] just finished flexing its military might by conducting live missile- firing exercises in the Strait of Taiwan, in a clear effort to bully and cower a valued and longstanding ally of the United States. This is the same country--China--that issued thinly veiled threats this spring suggesting that nuclear weapons would be used against the United States if the United States intervened on behalf of Taiwan. Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord acknowledged that Chinese officials had declared that the United States, ``wouldn't dare defend Taiwan because they [China] would rain nuclear bombs on Los Angeles'' if we did. Now, if this is not nuclear blackmail, it will do while the Clinton administration folds its hands until the first nuclear missile hits the west coast. China's ability to hold the United States hostage to such threats is made possible by the fact that a band of latter-day Luddites here in Washington have consistently refused even to consider building the very strategic missile defenses necessary to protect the American people from such an attack. Mr. President, it is time for the defenders of the ABM Treaty to give up their pious devotion to an antiquated arms control theology and come to grips with the realities of the post-cold-war world. Dr. Henry Kissinger, the architect of the ABM Treaty, put it best when he recently wrote, ``The end of the cold war has made . . . a strategy of mutually assured destruction largely irrelevant. Barely plausible when there was only one strategic opponent, the theory makes no sense in a multipolar world of proliferating nuclear powers.'' He went on to say that MAD, mutually assured destruction, would not work against blackmail with nuclear weapons. Yet, that is exactly what we are faced with when China blatantly threatens Los Angeles, U.S.A. Second, I cannot fathom the administration's sensibilities when it drew a distinction between threats to the United States and threats to the continental United States. The last time I checked, nearly 2 million U.S. citizens live in Alaska and Hawaii. These people and their families are no less deserving of protection than anyone living in Arkansas or North Carolina or Washington, DC, or anywhere else. It is simply incredible that those who oppose ballistic missile defense are doing so based on their view of the threat to only 48 out of the 50 States of the Union. This is all the more galling since it is an indisputable fact that North Korea is developing a series of missiles capable of striking both Alaska and Hawaii. Third, I call Senators' attention to a key caveat in the much publicized 1996 threat assessment that has been largely overlooked. That assessment declared that ``foreign assistance is a wild card that can sometimes permit a country to solve difficult developmental problems relatively quickly. Such external assistance can hinder our ability to predict how soon a system will become operational.'' Good Lord, Mr. President, this one statement alone unravels the whole ball of yarn. Foreign assistance is the norm in the development of ballistic missile systems, not the exception. The Soviet Union collaborated on ballistic missiles with 14 countries around the globe, all of whom can now field some type of Soviet-made missile. Russia recently was caught shipping entire missile sections to Iraq. Both Libya and Egypt have transferred missiles to other countries. China has sold intermediate-range missiles to Saudi Arabia and missile technology to Iran, Syria, and North Korea. In turn, Iran is working with North Korea and Syria on various missiles, and North Korea is supplying both missiles and missile production facilities to anybody who is prepared to pay for them with cash. Recently, Mr. President, I was astounded to discover that Russia and Ukraine may be concluding a secret deal with China to transfer ICBM components. A report by the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that Communist China is seeking to enhance its strategic arsenal with components from Russia's most lethal type of intercontinental ballistic missile--the SS-18. Dubbed ``Satan'' by Western intelligence services, the SS-18 is the world's most destructive weapon to date. It has the ability to drop 10 megaton-rated warheads within 600 feet of their targets. Acquisition of just the booster stage of this missile would give China the ability to launch nuclear warheads against any and every city in the United States of America--a strategic reach of up to 6,820 miles that China, thank the Lord, does not yet possess. Mr. President, I am deeply troubled that Secretary of Defense Perry has held open the door to the possibility that SS-18 boosters could be used commercially by the Chinese to boost satellites into orbit. He stated during an interview with reporters from the Washington Times that ``I guess our answer would be only if it's very tightly controlled, so you can have great confidence this technology is not being diverted to some other application. That would be the only exception I would make.'' Well, speaking just as one Senator, I must say, in no uncertain terms, that I believe any such exception would be made at the peril of the national security of the American people. The Defense Intelligence Agency has specifically noted that ``China's interest in using SS-18 boosters in its civilian program seems odd because the SS-18's engine characteristics may be incompatible with many sensitive satellite payloads.'' I might add that the Foreign Relations Committee, of which I am chairman, recommended Senate ratification of the START II Treaty subject to the understanding that the treaty would rectify a longstanding inequity of previous arms control agreements by completely eliminating this monster missile forever. Secretary Perry's comment appears to open the door for Satan's coming under the red flag of Communist China. For the record I should mention that the START II Treaty specifically prohibits Russia from transferring SS-18's to any recipient whatsoever or whomever, and does so from the date of START II's signature. The Foreign Relations Committee even attached a condition stating that ``space-launch vehicles composed of items that are limited by the START Treaty or the START II Treaty shall be subject to the obligations undertaken in the respective treaty.'' Case closed. In my judgment, there should not be any question about whether the transfer of SS-18 technology to China is acceptable. I contend that it absolutely is not. The truth of the matter is that no amount of policy reformulation by the administration can change the fact that the United States is vulnerable to nuclear-tipped missiles fielded by China, or anyone else. Rectifying this dangerous deficiency requires leadership and action. It is an all the more pressing issue because the current course charted by the administration fails to recognize the inherent danger in China's pursuit of an advanced nuclear arsenal. Mr. President, any further delay in the development by the United States of a flexible, cost-effective national missile defense is unconscionable. I am honored to be a cosponsor of the Defend America Act and urge Senators to support this legislation to ensure that the American people in all 50 States are protected from attack by ballistic missiles. ____________________