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Key Issues Missile Defense Issues The Rumsfeld Commission

Conclusions of the Report of the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States (The Rumsfeld Commission)
July 15, 1998

The following are the unanimous conclusions of the nine commissioners nominated by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and the

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Minority Leaders of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and appointed by the Director of Central Intelligence. The Commissioners are The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman, Dr. Barry M. Blechman, General Lee Butler, USAF (Ret.) Dr. Richard L. Garwin, Dr. William R. Graham, Dr. William Schneider, Jr., General Larry D. Welch, USAF (Ret.), Dr. Paul D. Wolfowitz, and The Honorable R. James Woolsey. The report was released on July 15, 1998.

. Concerted efforts by a number of overtly or potentially hostile nations to acquire ballistic missiles with biological or nuclear payloads pose a growing threat to the United States, its deployed forces and its friends and allies. These newer, developing threats in North Korea, Iran and Iraq are in addition to those still posed by the existing ballistic missile arsenals of Russia and China, nations with which we are not now in conflict but which remain in uncertain transitions. The newer ballistic missile-equipped nations' capabilities will not match those of U.S. systems for accuracy or reliability. However, they would be able to inflict major destruction on the U.S. within about five years of a decision to acquire such a capability (10 years in the case of Iraq). During several of those years, the U.S. might not be aware that such a decision had been made.

. The threat to the U.S. posed by these emerging capabilities is broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly than has been reported in estimates and reports by the Intelligence Community.

. The Intelligence Community's ability to provide timely and accurate estimates of ballistic missile threats to the U.S. is eroding. This erosion has roots both within and beyond the intelligence process itself. The Community's capabilities in this area need to be strengthened in terms of both resources and methodology.

. The warning times the U.S. can expect of new, threatening ballistic missile deployments are being reduced. Under some plausible scenarios-including re-basing or transfer of operational missiles, sea- and air-launch options, shortened development programs that might include testing in a third country, or some combination of these-the U.S. might well have little or now warning before operational deployment.

Therefore, we unanimously recommend that U.S. analyses, practices and policies that depend on expectations of extended warning of deployment be reviewed and, as appropriate, revised to reflect the reality of an environment in which there may be little or no warning.