Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Thomas Graham Jr.; Keith A. Hansen | Go to book overview

2 Detecting and Monitoring
Clandestine WMD Programs

The strategic challenge and threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War spurred US intelligence to develop capabilities to monitor and analyze large and technically sophisticated strategic nuclear forces, as well as conventional forces, which include chemical and biological weapons systems. In addition, the growth in the number of nuclear weapon states in the 1950s and 1960s (United Kingdom, France, and China), the “peaceful” Indian nuclear test in 1974, the efforts by other countries to develop a nuclear deterrent against hostile neighbors, and the actual use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s required the Intelligence Community to look well beyond the Soviet Union vis-à-vis the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.


Intelligence Support to Policymakers

Before describing how the Intelligence Community tackles the proliferation problem, we must briefly explain the steps normally required to produce intelligence that is useful to policymakers. Understanding this process is critical to an appreciation of how the IC strives to meet the challenges the United States faces around the world. Except for the issue of warning, in which the Intelligence Community must take the initiative to collect and analyze data so that policymakers can avoid surprises, the normal intelligence cycle begins with the needs of policymakers (see Appendix E). Intelligence is a service activity; it responds to the information needs of policymakers, but it neither recommends nor promotes policy options. Thus, it is the responsibility of policy officials to identify their requirements, and the responsibility of intelligence officials to respond to those requirements. If the Intelligence Community does not have sufficient information, then it must initiate collection efforts to obtain it.

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