Preparing for New Threats

“So even as we reduce the global stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we must also reduce the danger that lethal materials could wind up in the wrong hands, while developing effective defenses for our people if that should happen.”

–President Clinton, Address to the 51st General Assembly of the United Nations, September 24, 1996

preparing for new threats Bill Clinton Signing the BillWhen the Cold War ended, the United States faced two new challenges to its national security: the rise of global terrorism and the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction. The United States was the target of a series of attacks by terrorists in the 1990s, from the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 to the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.  President Clinton made the fight against terrorism a top priority, increasing funding for counter-terrorism and working with other countries to freeze terrorist assets, gather intelligence, and track down fugitives. The Clinton Administration thwarted a number of terrorist plots, including planned attacks on New York City tunnels, airlines, and New Year’s Eve millennium celebrations.

Soviet SS-N-8 missile fragmentThe Administration also sought to get “loose nukes” under control and to prevent the spread of WMDs.  In 1995, the United States agreed to an indefinite renewal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with President Clinton intervening personally to convince other heads of state to sign on.  In 1997, President Clinton convinced the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international ban on the development and stockpiling of chemical weapons, making it less likely that they would fall into the hands of terrorists.

This exhibit alcove includes military gear and models of weapon systems developed as part of the administration’s plan to create a more agile U.S. military to face the challenges of the 21st century.

Highlighted Object from Exhibit: Nozzle fragment of a Soviet SS-N-8 submarine-launched ballistic missile that was destroyed in 1999 under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which President Clinton signed into law in 1993.