Stopping the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons) and the means to deliver them, such as ballistic and cruise missiles, has made the world a more dangerous place. A number of independent commissions and a multitude of assessments by the U.S. Intelligence Community have consistently reported that the threat has steadily increased since the end of the Cold War.
These threats to our national security are being fueled in no small measure by "key supplier" countries like China, Russia, and North Korea. China has sold nuclear components and missiles to Pakistan, missile parts to Libya, cruise missiles to Iran, and shared a wide variety of sensitive technologies with North Korea. Russia has provided nuclear weapons assistance to Iran, and missile technology to North Korea. And North Korea has provided missile technology to a variety of countries in the Middle East and Africa, and openly acknowledges that these sales are one of its main sources of hard currency.
China and others have also diverted or misused many sensitive "dual-use" technologies, which were legally acquired from United States corporations, to further their military modernization programs. These actions have occurred despite many of these countries' public reassurances and commitments to several international nonproliferation treaties.
All of these events lead to one bottom line: that dangers to the United States exist and are increasing; that the unfettered sale of "dual-use" and military-related technologies are abetting those threats; and that the problem is being fueled by a few key suppliers like China, Russia, and North Korea.
During his time as Chairman and now Ranking Member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over proliferation, Senator Thompson has examined these issues very closely. The Government Affairs Committee held numerous hearings on the threat to our national security posed by proliferation. During the Clinton Administration, the committee exposed the failure to vigorously enforce U.S. nonproliferation and export control laws.
In 2001, Senator Thompson was a vocal opponent of the Export Administration Act, legislation that contained provisions significantly weakening our export control laws. The primary reason for export controls is to protect our national security. This legislation made it easier to transfer items and technology potentially usable for military or proliferation purposes to countries that are actively engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. While the bill was improved by a number of amendments, it still did not do enough to prevent sensitive technologies from getting into the hands of weapons proliferators. For this reason, Senator Thompson voted against it.
Senator Thompson believes that following the terror attacks of September 11th, we must reanalyze the wisdom of America contributing to the proliferation of militarily useful technology simply because we want to generate business. If we place our desire for profit above our national security, we will become much more vulnerable to the potential of experiencing such attacks in the future. The U.S. should not be selling technology to rogue states and others that could be possibly used against the United States and its allies in some future conflict.
He believes this serious threat of proliferation requires us to act in a firm, responsible, and balanced manner. The U.S. must send the right message abroad: the United States will not tolerate continued proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies.
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