Deutch Panel Calls Non-Proliferation Efforts Inadequate

The U.S. government remains ill-prepared to address the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, a congressional commission led by former Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch reported on July 14. Citing the weapons of mass destruction threat to U.S. interests from terrorists and rogue states, and the destabilizing effect of such weapons on South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East, the 12-member bipartisan panel called for more energetic presidential leadership, a greater non-proliferation role for the vice-president and the creation of a new senior post in the National Security Council (NSC) to integrate non-proliferation concerns into all aspects of national security policy.

The Deutch panel asserted that despite President Clinton's strong rhetoric on the subject, the administration's efforts to combat proliferation have been diffuse and uncoordinated. The panel judged that non-proliferation goals are too often subordinated to other foreign policy interests and that key counter-proliferation programs in the departments of Defense and Energy have languished for lack of high-level attention. To insure that proliferation is given higher priority, the Deutch panel urged the appointment of a "National Director for Combating Proliferation" to serve on the NSC staff.

As proposed, the national director would have the rank of deputy national security advisor and would be able to chair meetings of the NSC's Deputies Committee in order to coordinate the "full-range of proliferation-related issues and activities." The national director would also work with the president's budget director to oversee a government-wide "coordinated agency proliferation budget." The Deutch panel also advised creating a senior-level "Combating Proliferation Council" to improve coordination and resolve disputes among government agencies.