Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet has formed a new unit consisting of 500 analysts, scientists and supporting personnel to monitor the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to focus on non-proliferation and arms-control issues.

The new unit — the Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center — was created because Tenet believes the spread of mass-destruction weapons is a growing threat worldwide, the director said last week

The center is to be led by veteran Soviet military analyst Alan Foley, and will bring together three current CIA analytic staffs, an agency spokesman told WorldNetDaily.

Foley has spent the past three years supporting arms-control treaty negotiators as head of the agency’s Arms Control Intelligence Staff. He will report directly to Tenet.

In his role, Foley will be responsible for the existing Nonproliferation Center as well as the Office of Transnational Issues’ Weapons Intelligence Staff, the latter composed primarily of scientists and engineers.

CIA officials believe the pace of weapons proliferation has increased steadily over the past several years, noting that Congress has increased funding for CIA activities that would allow the agency to better monitor the spread of destructive weapons.

Also, Tenet himself, in testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Feb. 7, identified weapons proliferation as the agency’s number one concern.

“Never in my experience, Mr. Chairman, has American intelligence had to deal with such a dynamic set of concerns affecting such a broad range of U.S. interests. Never have we had to deal with such a high quotient of uncertainty,” Tenet said.

“With so many things on our plate, it is important always to establish priorities. For me, the highest priority must invariably be on those things that threaten the lives of Americans or the physical security of the United States,” he said.

Tenet identified the worst WMD [weapons of mass destruction] proliferators as Russia, China and North Korea.

Tom Crispell, a CIA spokesman, told WorldNetDaily that because of additional funding appropriated by Congress over the past three years, “we’ve been engaged in our largest recruiting effort … to hire individuals to focus specifically on … terrorism, proliferation, analysis and human [intelligence] collection overseas.”

Asked if Congress has been more focused in recent years on proliferation efforts, Crispell said he couldn’t speak for lawmakers. But he reemphasized the agency’s commitment to monitoring proliferation activities.

“The pace of foreign weapons programs has accelerated, as identified by Director Tenet,” he said. “At the same time, the number of secondary suppliers has increased. So he has identified it as a challenge that the intelligence community has to meet. That’s part of the effort” of the new Center — “to bring these three different organizations together to focus on an issue of great importance.”

In his testimony, Tenet identified several activities that ought to concern lawmakers and the Bush administration:

  • Though the U.S. government has “made considerable progress” against terrorism, Tenet said, “it persists.” He noted the most dramatic recent terrorist attack occurred against the USS Cole as it was refueling in a Yemeni harbor last fall.

    “The threat from terrorism is real, it is immediate, and it is evolving,” the director said.

  • A “variety of states continue to seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them,” said Tenet, noting the “continuing and growing threat posed to us by ICBMs.”

    Specifically, the director said, “Iran has one of the largest and most capable ballistic missile programs in the Middle East. Its public statements suggest that it plans to develop longer-range rockets for use in a space-launch program, but Tehran could follow the North Korean pattern and test an ICBM capable of delivering a light payload to the United States in the next few years.”

  • “On the nuclear front, Chinese entities have provided extensive support in the past to Pakistan’s safeguarded and unsafeguarded nuclear programs. In May 1996, Beijing pledged that it would not provide assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in Pakistan; we cannot yet be certain, however, that contacts have ended,” he said.

  • Because “no country in the world rivals the U.S. in its reliance, dependence, and dominance of information systems,” Tenet said he wanted to “reemphasize the concerns I raised last year about our nation’s vulnerability to attacks on our critical information infrastructure.”

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