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DCI Statement on Damage Assessment

April 21, 1999

Earlier this year, the Cox Committee recommended that appropriate Executive Branch departments and agencies conduct a comprehensive damage assessment on the implications of China's acquisition of US nuclear weapons information regarding the development of future Chinese weapons. In February, I appointed Robert Walpole, the National Intelligence Officer for Strategic and Nuclear Programs, to lead this effort. Mr. Walpole convened an interagency group including CIA, DOE, DOD, DIA, NSA, INR, FBI, both CIA's and the National Counterintelligence Centers, and multiple weapons designers, experts, and analysts from the national laboratories at Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia to draft the assessment.

The assessment consisted of a thorough analysis of China's nuclear weapons program to identify where and how US information played a role. Mr. Walpole told members of the damage assessment team to view their efforts through the lens of what we know, what we don't know, what we can't know, what we judge based on evidence, and what we speculate based on experience.

The Administration, in its response to the Cox Committee recommendation for the damage assessment, determined that the findings of the assessment should be reviewed by an independent panel of nuclear experts. In March, I asked Admiral David Jeremiah to lead a panel of weapons and national security experts to include General Brent Scowcroft, Dr. John Foster, Mr. Richard Kerr,
Dr. Roland Herbst, and Mr. Howard Schue. They reviewed the assessment and its findings, met with the Community team, and concluded that they concurred with the assessment.

The damage assessment contains the most sensitive intelligence, nuclear weapons, and law enforcement information. We have not held back anything in its preparation, and the full report has been shared with the Administration and the appropriate congressional committees. Despite the extraordinary sensitivity of the information in the assessment, the independent panel has worked with the damage assessment team to produce a set of unclassified key findings. These findings are completely consistent with the classified key findings in the assessment. They are attached. [Key Findings] [Introductory Note] [Admiral Jeremiah's independent panel]

I wish to thank the damage assessment team for the thorough, extremely professional way they approached and carried out their responsibilities. I also wish to thank Admiral Jeremiah's panel for their very important contribution. I have taken on board the observations they have made.

Safeguarding our nuclear secrets and other weapons-related secrets is a matter of utmost seriousness-an issue of critical importance to our national security. My colleagues at the Department of Energy and in law enforcement have taken a number of aggressive steps to protect sensitive information, tighten security, and prevent future breaches. These matters will require continued vigilance in the years ahead.


Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:54 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:54 PM