the pace of technological advancements and their rapid diffusion
to the far corners of Earth, what might the world look like in
15 to 20 years? And what are the implications for Americas
national security and for its deterrence options? To answer those
questions, Lawrence Livermores Center for Global Security
Research (CGSR) is sponsoring workshops involving some of the
brightest minds in science and technology, government, and academia.
Technology is spreading
incredibly fast, and breakthroughs do not respect national borders,
says geophysicist Eileen Vergino, CGSR deputy director. We
want to examine the national security risk from the spread of
new technologies and decide if there are particular threats that
the nation ought to be focusing on. She explains that the
CGSR workshops have not concentrated on response options to immediate
threats; rather, they have focused on the more distant future
15 to 20 years away. (See box below.)
Vergino notes that as global
tensions have relaxed, so have restrictions on the flow of commercial
and military technologies. Military forces, including this nations,
are turning to commercial electronic components to take advantage
of industrys rapid innovations and to hold down costs. Adversaries,
too, have access to many of the same technologies that the U.S.
relies on for conventional warfare, and therein lies one threat
considered in CGSR workshops.
Last year, CGSR brought
together different groups of experts to discuss likely technology-driven
threats to the U.S. and its allies in the 2015 to 2020 timeframe.
The series of workshops was entitled After Globalization:
Future Security in a Technology-Rich World. About 100 participants
gathered from other national laboratories, the Department of Defense,
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Congress, the
intelligence community, universities, think tanks, consulting
firms, and private industry. In addition, about 40 Livermore scientists,
with backgrounds ranging from molecular biology to global climate
Participants at each workshop
were asked to examine threats from nuclear, missile, and space
technology; conventional military technology; information technology;
biological technology; or geological systems technology. In December
2000, an Integration Workshop and Senior Review involving national
leaders and experts was held to discuss the workshops findings.
A top-flight panel was led by former Secretary of State George
Shultz, who was introduced by CGSR director Ron Lehman as the
father of globalization.
A number of threat sources, ranging from terrorist groups
to emerging nations, are capable of accessing advanced technologies
provided by corporations, the Internet,
the black market, and other sources.
Provides Fresh Insight into National Security Issues
in 1996, the Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) is
an outreach effort of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
that studies ways in which technology can enhance international
security. We probe issues at the intersection of technology
and policy, says CGSR deputy director Eileen Vergino.
Vergino notes that
national and international security policy is inextricably
linked with technology.
The center aims to help policymakers understand the limitations
and capabilities of science and technology while helping scientists
understand policy. We want to bridge the gulf between
the two communities, she says.
CGSR sponsors workshops,
research fellows, and independent analyses. Projects typically
join Lawrence Livermore scientists with other technical experts,
academics, policymakers, military leaders, and industry executives.
The result is fresh insight into some of the most vexing national
security issues. (See S&TR, June
the Crossroads of Technology and Policy.)
most projects focus on present international security concerns,
other efforts such as the After Globalization
and Whither Deterrence? workshops are focused
beyond the next decade to help guide current U.S. actions
Vergino notes that
although think tanks abound, few have such a concentration
of experts in nuclear weapons, lasers, biotechnology, and
other disciplines as Lawrence Livermore. CGSR, she says, is
fortunate to be able to tap the expertise of Livermore scientists.
A number of well-known
figures in technology and government have participated in
CGSR workshops. During one CGSR event at Livermore in 1997,
Attorney General Janet Reno announced the establishment of
a new Federal Bureau of Investigation center to investigate
attacks on the nations critical infrastructure. Other
activities have included former Secretary of State George
Shultz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The After Globalization
workshops were conceived and sponsored by CGSR Director Lehman
and led by Livermore engineer and CGSR senior fellow Thomas Gilmartin.
The workshops focused on what we know, what we do not know
or cannot agree on, and what is needed to resolve the unknowns,
says Gilmartin. We took into account historic threats but
emphasized potentially troublesome innovations in every technology
Gilmartin says that developing
threat responses was outside the projects scope but might
be the goal of follow-on projects. We set this limit because
a focus on response would limit the time and energy that participants
spent on imagining a full range of possible threats. The discussion
of threats and enabling technologies alone is a prodigious task.
Participants noted that
the Internet, migration, multinational corporations, and global
research collaborations are all helping to give every nation as
well as small extremist groups access to resources and technical
knowledge. Participants also pointed to the importance of so-called
dual-use technologies. For example, the same computer workstation
used ostensibly for animation could be used for designing a nuclear
warhead. Medical equipment supposedly purchased for making pharmaceuticals
could be used instead to produce new strains of infectious microbes.
Much discussion focused
on the globalization and proliferation of nuclear weapons as well
as technologies that could sharply affect the cost of nuclear
weapon development, production, and delivery. Such technologies
include computers, nuclear materials enrichment, robotics, machining,
cruise missiles, space launch vehicles, global positioning systems,
and satellite imaging.
At the same time, advanced
technologies for nonnuclear weapons are diffusing rapidly throughout
the globe. The net effect is to provide future enemies with access
to advanced equipment and technologies such as remotely guided
weapons and stealth technologiesor at least the know-how
to develop them. U.S. air and sea operations may thereby face
smart mines, quiet submarines, stealth planes, and advanced antiaircraft
Weapons containing advanced
technologies are being manufactured and offered for sale by a
growing number of nations. For example, a German propulsion frigate
with stealth technology is being built for South Africa. India
and other nations are developing hypersonic ramjet missiles. And
Russia is marketing MIG fighter jets with state-of-the-art missiles.
of global advanced weapon technology are evident in new generations
of arms marketed by dozens of nations.
In all, participants
cited 45 possible threats covering a wide range of lethality and
likelihood of occurrence and including more than 60 enabling technologies.
Many of the threats were traditional, such as nuclear warfare.
Other scenarios were more speculative bordering on science
fictionyet quite possible in the future, given the pace
of innovation and discovery.
The threats were ranked
by risk, that is, the probability of their occurrence times the
severity of their consequences. The top threats were judged to
be nuclear weapons used in a terrorist attack; diseases, both
natural and engineered; nuclear weapons used in a limited regional
war; a major nuclear war; human control of future biological forms;
a lessening of the dominance of U.S. conventional force; and gaining
and losing control of nature. Asymmetrytaking advantage
of gross differences in vulnerability, tactics, or values of one
nations military power over other nationsand
information operations were also discussed. (See box below.)
ranking the threats, many participants felt that the potential
danger of biological weapons of all types has been underestimated.
Emerging and reemerging deadly diseases could be weaponized. Agricultural
species could be attacked directly or infiltrated with subtle
unhealthy genetic modifications to kill off a wheat crop or devastate
livestock. Just the threat of such use (psycho-biological warfare)
could cause fear, confusion, and poor public and governmental
Likewise, the potential
misuse of geophysical systems as weapons and threats has not received
much publicity. These threats include, for example, deliberately
fouling the environment with chemical poisons, flooding or desiccating
areas with radioactive contaminants, disrupting natural weather
cycles, destroying dams, and deliberately creating fires. Humans
could even learn to start hurricanes by seeding the skies or initiate
a tsunami by inducing an already weak continental shelf to slump.
The class of threats called
unintended manmade is particularly worrisome, Gilmartin
says. This class includes the consequences of global warming and
the long-term results from life-form modifications, biodiversity,
and habitat loss. Such threats might start as beneficial,
but humankind has proven many times to have limited foresight
when exercising its stewardship of nature, he says.
In recent months, Gilmartin
has presented papers on After Globalization at Stanford
University and the University of California at Berkeley and at
an international nonproliferation conference in Erice, Italy,
thereby exposing an even wider international audience of scientists
and policymakers to the methods and findings of these workshops.
Future Threats to the Nation
threats to the nations security were identified and
ranked by leading scientists and policymakers as part of After
Globalization workshops. In order of highest risk (probability
of occurrence times severity of consequences), the threats
are assessed as follows:
Nuclear weapons in
a terrorist attack. The danger that terrorists might use a
crudely fashioned, purchased, or stolen nuclear weapon to
attack a city has increased in recent years because of the
proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials and the international
increase in nuclear technology. At the same time, the rise
of nuclear-enabling technologies, such as computing, robotics,
and remote control, increase the probability that a terrorist
could acquire and use a nuclear weapon. Such extreme terrorism
might be viewed as useful to a number of organizations, especially
those with nothing to lose. Attribution of such an attack
could be difficult if the sponsoring group does not claim
Natural and manufactured
diseases. This threat has the potential for considerable misery
and loss of life. Diseases considered to be eliminated or
under control still exist in biological storage, persist in
relatively isolated populations, or are reemerging in drug-resistant
forms. Much of the once-immunized population is again vulnerable
to smallpox, for example, and to antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.
In addition, new diseases are emerging, and biotechnology
provides the means to modify and combine disease elements
to tailor their effects.
Some consider the means to design, manufacture, and disperse
microbes for a biological attack relatively simple yet difficult
to detect, and the knowledge of how to accomplish these ends
is widespread. (See S&TR, May
Limited regional nuclear
war. Emerging nations cannot afford to deploy sophisticated
systems of conventional arms. Nuclear weapons give a nation
immediate dominance over its adversaries or at least nuclear
peerage, enormous deterrent capability, and significant
stature among world powers. Nations possessing nuclear capabilities
include Israel, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea,
and others could acquire weapons over the next two decades.
A situation could result in which one nation uses a nuclear
weapon out of desperation, for vengeance,
or to disable electrical devices. Such use of nuclear weapons
might motivate other nations to acquire and use them, and
the risk of nuclear conflict would be increased.
Major nuclear war.
While the threat of global nuclear war has receded, large
arsenals and delivery capabilities still exist. This threat
ranks high not because of any current tension but because
of the potential for catastrophe. Experts say that the current
global situation is not like the EastWest standoff that
marked the Cold War. Rather, it resembles the multifaceted
national relations that preceded World War I. Currently, several
emerging nuclear nations, many of which harbor intense animosities,
are involved in a complex web of alliances with each other
and with established nuclear powers.
Human control of future
biological forms. The threat from the malicious applications
of biotechnology is
discussed. However, new biological forms, developed out of
the best of intentions, could have unexpected consequences.
Through evolution, todays life forms have established
complex interrelationships such that species are in equilibrium
with their environments. Most future biological creations
will serve specific purposes such as manufacturing medicines
and organs for human use or seeds containing transplanted
genes. These new biological forms will not be ecologically
tested, and the dangers of unintended ecological and human
disruptions could be significant.
Blunting of U.S. force
projection. An array of new air defense and air combat technologies
could diminish U.S. air dominance and capability and necessitate
a new generation of strike and countermeasure technologies.
The emerging technologies include sensors to defeat aircraft
infrared countermeasures (for example, decoys that fool heat-seeking
missiles), dome optics to give antiaircraft missiles greater
speed and range, radar systems to lessen the effectiveness
of stealth aircraft and antiradar missiles, visible-light
sensors to lessen the effectiveness of cruise missiles, and
improved infrared systems to increase the effectiveness of
night operations. Also, stealth technology will likely become
available for adversaries aircraft, missiles, and ships,
which will require greater protection for U.S. forces.
Gained and lost control
of nature. Understanding weather, ocean currents, and geologic
systems through computer simulation for long-term predictionand
possibly controlcould generate new global threats. For
example, one nation might understand how to generate a tsunami
(giant tidal wave) by destroying an undersea continental shelf.
In addition, human activities that add greenhouse gases are
changing the weather in ways we cannot control. The effects
of these changes, both beneficial and harmful, are quite varied.
Their distribution among regions and nations, when better
understood, is certain to be a source of international antagonism.
In addition to the
seven major threats listed above, two others were cited:
U.S. computer systems are vulnerable in varying degrees, from
simple intrusion and denial of services to coordinated, sophisticated
attacks on financial activities, infrastructure, and military
information. Last year, such attacks disabled Internet services
and cost considerable amounts of money. These techniques could
be used to design, control, and execute the listed threats,
as well as to disrupt responses. However, at the Center for
Global Security Research workshops discussed in the article,
participants argued that defenses against information operations
would evolve as needed and that such attacks by themselves
would not destabilize the U.S. government, economy, or military.
Asymmetry. U.S. military
dominance over other nations is an example of asymmetry. It
is unlikely during the next two decades that any adversary
will defeat us in conventional conflict. However, it is possible
some group or nation, using a crude or breakthrough technology,
could achieve asymmetry to its advantage. Participants agreed
that such attacks would not seriously threaten the survival
of the U.S. military or government but that determined adversaries
could cause significant localized harm.
of the top seven threats to U.S. national security involve
nuclear weapons. The chart breaks down national nuclear weapons
policy as a function of world population.
A new CGSR project titled
Whither Deterrence? is examining the future of deterrence
in response to the new threat scenarios. Whither Deterrence?
consists of exploratory workshops and a concluding conference
at which participants will discuss new threat scenarios, conventional
and nuclear weapon systems policies, and deterrence strategies.
The first Whither
Deterrence? workshop was held in May 2001 in Washington,
D.C., drawing participants primarily from academia, military agencies,
and think tanks. The second workshop was held in June at Livermore
and featured experts from the national laboratories. A number
of Lawrence Livermore scientists took part who are expert on nuclear
and biological technologies as well as deterrence policy. A final
Whither Deterrence? conference is scheduled for late
November at Livermore, with a panel of distinguished national
leaders and experts headed by Brent Scowcroft, national security
advisor to former President Bush.
Carl Poppe, physicist and
CGSR fellow, is leading the workshops. The workshops are
looking at what deterrence will mean 15 to 20 years from now,
he says. For example, what role will nuclear weapons play? How
should we deal with the emergence of new nuclear powers or nuclear
alliances? Can traditional ideas of deterrence work in the face
of new kinds of weapons?
He notes that the concept
of deterrence, honed during the Cold War, focused primarily on
the threats posed by Soviet nuclear weapons. With seeming suddenness,
the Soviet Union split apart and the world moved from bipolar
(East West) to multipolar and factional. At the same time,
the spread of new technologies around the world began to accelerate.
According to Poppe, Today
there are many more ways to exploit our vulnerabilities and many
more players bent on acquiring the means to do us harm. During
the Cold War, we were much more focused on the potential consequences
of global war than on other serious threats that could arise and
require well-thought-out deterrence measures.
Poppe cites new threats
such as biological and chemical weapons and computer viruses and
new threat initiators such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea,
and terrorist groups. One challenge is deterring the use of biological
and chemical weapons when the U.S. has foresworn the use of such
ranking threats to the U.S., many experts believe that the
destructive potential of biological weapons has been underestimated.
Lawrence Livermore scientists have been developing new methods
to identify biological agents that could threaten urban populations,
livestock, and crops.
of Thinking on U.S. Nuclear Deterrence Policy
The U.S. policy
of nuclear deterrence has evolved since the end of World
War II. What role nuclear weapons will play is being debated
as old threats diminish and new threats emerge.
World war termination; countergenocide
nuclear power, component-based
Massive retaliation, new-look army
Flexible response, escalation dominance
Assured destruction; damage limiting
Mutual assured destruction
Sufficiency; escalation control
Presidential Directive 59; countervailing strategy
National Security Defense Directive 13; peace through strength
Strategic Defense Initiative
Weapons of last resort
Nuclear posture review
PostCold War deterrent with hedge
Deterrence, Assurance, Dissuasion, Defense
Sustained deterrent? Flexible deterrent? Responsible hedge
deterrent? Minimal deterrent? Recessed deterrent? Virtual
Held in trust for humans?
Reconstitution as a safeguard?
and Whither Deterrence? are two of several projects
that target policy and technology issues of importance in the
next two decades. With such projects, CGSR carries on its tradition
of sponsoring efforts to analyze long-range deterrence and proliferation
issues. Among these is a recent project, which concluded at a
workshop in April, that focused on one particularly worrisome
example of nuclear proliferation: whether the 1994 agreement with
North Korea, called the Agreed Framework, can be verified.
Under this agreement, the U.S. and its allies pledged to build
two nuclear power reactors in North Korea and to provide fuel-oil
shipments until the reactors were built. North Korea, in exchange,
agreed to declare how much material it had produced for nuclear
weapons, to stop producing the material at specific facilities,
and to observe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Former Secretary of Defense
William J. Perry requested the verification study, which was conducted
by CGSR and Stanford Universitys Center for International
Security and Cooperation. Michael May, a former Livermore director,
led the Stanford effort, and Lehman headed the Laboratory effort.
Robert Schock, a CGSR senior fellow, says the reports bottom
line is that the agreement with North Korea is verifiable, provided
North Korea reveals the details of its weapons program.
only was this workshop timely, but it also got the attention of
Congress and the current administration, helping them to understand
the issues involved in verifying the 1994 agreement and to seek
ways to speed up the verification process.
In January 2000, CGSR,
together with the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, sponsored
a conference titled International Security Aspects of the
Year 2000 Issue: Preliminary Assessments of What Really Happened
and Lessons to Be Learned. The workshop was held at Livermore
with people in London participating via videoconferencing. Attendees
came from throughout the world.
In December 2000, the Center
sponsored three days of discussion under the title Beyond
Moores Law: Opportunities and Threats from Future, Ubiquitous
High-Performance Computing. Representatives included personnel
from the top U.S. computing and semiconductor companies, Department
of Defense agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Department of Energy, the National Security Agency, and other
CGSR and the Office of
Engineering and Technology at the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) cosponsored the conference Telecommunications Network
Security and Reliability in the 21st Century last October
at FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Olivia Bosch, a CGSR fellow
from the United Kingdom, led an effort by government, industry,
and academic leaders to address major issues resulting from the
rapid evolution of electronic communications technologies.
In 1999, missile proliferation
specialists convened for two days of discussion hosted by CGSR
on the subject of Missile Proliferation in a World of Rapidly
Advancing Technology. The conference was, in part, a follow-up
to the Congressionally mandated Commission to Assess the Ballistic
Missile Threat to the United States, which released its report
in July 1998. Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense, headed
the commission, which concluded that efforts by hostile or potentially
hostile countries to acquire ballistic missiles pose a growing
and largely underestimated threat to the U.S. and its allies.
Also in 1999, the Center
held a workshop on Proliferation-Resistant Nuclear Power
Systems, at which a group of 90 international experts addressed
the major questions and challenges surrounding the relationship
between future nuclear power and the proliferation of nuclear
materials for weapons and other means of nuclear terrorism. The
focus was on the role that new technologies can play in enhancing
the proliferation-resistance of civilian nuclear power systems.
This workshop led directly to a Department of Energy study to
recommend research and development in proliferation-resistance
The report from this workshop
was published in March 2000. The following June, Harold Feiveson
of Princeton University cited the report in a conference paper
at Stanford University, describing it as an elegant overview
of many of the proliferation-resistance concepts.
perceived usefulness of nuclear weapons has changed significantly
in recent years. It has declined for the U.S., but it has
climbed sharply for other nations and terrorist groups.
a conference on lessons from the Y2K experience linked participants
at Livermore and in London by videoconferencing. Workshops
sponsored by Livermores Center for Global Security Research
often bring together participants from nations that are not
on the friendliest of terms. At right, two experts from India
and Pakistan confer at last years Y2K workshop.
Influence Is Long Term
The effects and influence
of CGSR projects and workshops are difficult to determine because
they are frequently subtle and long term. For Vergino, the value
of CGSR workshops lies more in the process than in the product.
The sessions are an enriching experience for both scientists
and policymakers, says Vergino. Because scientists
dont focus on policy, its important for them to hear
where policy is going and what its limitations are. At the same
time, its important for policymakers to hear where science
The center plans to examine
the effects of new technologies in different ways. One effort
under consideration is a series of workshops devoted to biotechnology
and national security. In that light, a new fellow, a molecular
biologist, will be joining CGSR. As with all CGSR projects, the
overriding goal is not to achieve consensus but to clarify what
U.S. national security experts know and what they need to learn
about possible threats in the coming decades.
biological warfare, Center for Global Security Research (CGSR),
globalization, nonproliferation, nuclear weapons, terrorism.
information contact Eileen Vergino (925) 422-3907 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
on the After Globalization and North Korea and
Nuclear Power workshops
can be found on the Web at cgsr.llnl.gov/global/global.html.
For more information on the
Center for Global Security Research and its work, see cgsr.llnl.gov/.
is deputy director of Livermores Center for Global Security
Research (CGSR). She is responsible for helping to plan and
implement CGSR studies, in particular those that examine how
technology can enhance international security. She has primary
responsibility for developing and implementing new collaborations
between CGSR and academia, industry, and international government
and nongovernment organizations and thus link Livermore science
and technology expertise with outside policy expertise. She
also has primary responsibility for community development
activities with the city of Snezhinsk, Russia, as part of
the Nuclear Cities Initiative. She serves on the Department
of Energys Community Development Task Force and was
instrumental in establishing the sister-city relationship
between Snezhinsk and Livermore.
Vergino, who has a
B.S. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
worked for over 16 years as a seismologist in Livermores
Treaty Verification Program on seismic yield estimation and
discrimination studies. She is also the former director of
Education Programs at Livermore and was responsible for creating
and implementing regional and national education outreach
programs for students and teachers from elementary school
through graduate degree programs.