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Missile Testing

Missile Testing

N. Korea Launches Rocket, Renounces Talks

North Korea's long anticipated rocket launch April 5 set off a chain of events resulting in international sanctions on North Korean firms and Pyongyang's withdrawal from six-way talks to end its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea, which warned that any UN response would provoke a hostile reaction, insisted that it is no longer bound by multilateral agreements reached with the United States and countries in the region and stated its intention to reconstitute the nuclear facilities that it temporarily disabled under those accords. In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, Pyongyang declared that it had begun separating plutonium to enhance its "nuclear deterrence." (Continue)

Peter Crail

North Korea's long anticipated rocket launch April 5 set off a chain of events resulting in international sanctions on North Korean firms and Pyongyang's withdrawal from six-way talks to end its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea, which warned that any UN response would provoke a hostile reaction, insisted that it is no longer bound by multilateral agreements reached with the United States and countries in the region and stated its intention to reconstitute the nuclear facilities that it temporarily disabled under those accords. In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, Pyongyang declared that it had begun separating plutonium to enhance its "nuclear deterrence."

Rocket Launch

More than a month after indicating that it would attempt to launch a satellite into space, North Korea fired a three-stage rocket April 5, defying calls by the United States and countries in the region not to take such an action. Although Pyongyang declared the launch a success, other countries have concluded that the rocket did not place a satellite in space.

The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) issued a statement April 5 explaining that the first stage landed in the Sea of Japan while "the remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean." NORTHCOM said that "no object entered orbit."

The rocket, which North Korea calls the Unha-2, is believed to be a modified version of the North's Taepo Dong-2 missile first tested in 2006. That test failed about 40 seconds after launch. The recent launch, in spite of its failure to orbit a satellite, therefore demonstrated some improvement of North Korea's proficiency with its longest-range missile system.

Independent estimates suggest that, in a ballistic missile configuration, the Taepo Dong-2 may be able to carry a 500-kilogram payload about 9,000 kilometers, making it capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii, and the western coast of the continental United States. The rocket's first stage is believed to be powered by a cluster of four Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles, offering considerable lift capacity. The makeup of its second and third stages is unclear.

Although the NORTHCOM statement referred to the rocket as a satellite launch vehicle, the United States and its allies said the rocket launch was intended to test North Korea's long-range ballistic missile technologies, which have many similarities with satellite launchers. (See ACT, April 2009.) Additional modifications are needed for the rocket to serve as a nuclear-weapon delivery vehicle.

In March, Pyongyang provided international agencies with information on where the rocket's first two stages were expected to land in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. The first stage landed in the expected location while the second reportedly landed hundreds of kilometers short of the area in which North Korea estimated it would land, about 3,150-3,950 kilometers from the launch site.

Security Council Condemnation, Sanctions

The UN Security Council responded to the launch by issuing a presidential statement April 13 condemning it and declaring that it was "in contravention of Security Council Resolution 1718." The council also imposed sanctions on three North Korean firms believed to be involved in Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs. Presidential statements by the council are issued with the approval of all 15 members but do not have the same legal force that resolutions do.

Although the statement fell short of a new resolution sought by the United States and Japan, those countries did appear to win concessions from China and Russia to declare that the launch contravened Resolution 1718 and to levy sanctions under that resolution.

The council adopted Resolution 1718 in October 2006 in response to North Korea's nuclear test earlier that month. (See ACT, November 2006.) It prohibited Pyongyang from engaging in "any ballistic missile activity" and required that all countries freeze the assets of designated North Korean entities believed to be involved in that country's nuclear and missile programs. Prior to April, the council had not designated any entities.

China and Russia previously maintained that because the Unha-2 was intended to orbit a satellite, the launch was not prohibited by Resolution 1718. The United States and Japan argued that the resolution barred all activities with ballistic missile applications. (See ACT, April 2009.) To prevent any continued legal dispute, the April 13 statement demanded that North Korea "not conduct any further launch."

Beijing and Moscow had also warned against taking any steps, such as new sanctions, that would jeopardize negotiations with North Korea on its nuclear program.

Following the launch, Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters that it was important "not to give in to emotions" and lose sight of the "main goal...the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

After the UN statement, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Seoul April 24 that Moscow stood behind the council's decision to penalize North Korea for the rocket launch. During an April 23 visit to Pyongyang, Lavrov told North Korean officials that Russia would be willing to launch their satellites.

The United States and Japan were also able to win agreement to sanction North Korean entities under Resolution 1718, though not as many as they had wanted. On April 24, the council agreed to place financial restrictions on three North Korean firms: Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., Tanchon Commercial Bank, and Korea Ryongbong General Corp.

Reuters reported April 21 and Arms Control Today confirmed with diplomatic sources that the United States sought to sanction 11 firms, while Japan proposed that the council list those 11 entities plus an additional three.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has placed financial restrictions on 10 North Korean firms suspected of involvement in the country's nuclear and missile programs, including the three firms now designated by the council.

In addition to seeking UN penalties, Japan extended its own sanctions against North Korea April 10, including an embargo on North Korean imports and limitations on exports and remittances to the isolated state. Moreover, in contrast to its usual practice of extending the sanctions for six months, Tokyo imposed them for an additional year. The sanctions have been in place since 2006.

Hours after the council adopted its statement, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a declaration "resolutely" rejecting the UN action and outlining steps that Pyongyang would take in response. In the April declaration, North Korea argued that "there has never been a case in history that the [council] took issue with a satellite launch."

Nuclear Talks Denounced

Alleging that the other participants in the six-party talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula had infringed on North Korea's sovereignty by issuing the council statement, Pyongyang declared that it "will never participate in such talks and will no longer be bound" by any of its agreements.

South Korea and current Security Council members China, Japan, Russia, and the United States have been the participants in the talks with North Korea.

The six countries have reached three formal agreements since the talks were initiated in August 2003 in response to Pyongyang's withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) earlier that year. In a 2005 joint statement, the parties concluded a key overarching agreement outlining the goal of the negotiations. In that agreement, North Korea pledged to abandon "all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs" and to return "at an early date" to the NPT.

Two subsequent agreements reached in February and October 2007 detailed initial steps to implement the 2005 statement, including temporarily rendering North Korea's key plutonium-related facilities temporarily inoperable. The process, which requires reciprocal steps by North Korea and the other five countries, has not been completed.

In spite of Pyongyang's withdrawal from the negotiations, other participants have insisted that the six-party talks continue.

Department of State spokesperson Megan Mattson told reporters April 25, "The United States remains committed to the six-party goal of the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner through the six-party talks."

Lavrov similarly stated during an April 24 press conference that "our joint task is to create conditions towards the resumption of the negotiating process" with North Korea. He had traveled to Pyongyang one day earlier to discuss the talks with key members of the North Korean leadership. Based on those meetings, Lavrov said at the press conference, "today, North Korea is not ready to return to the negotiating table."

In its April 14 statement, North Korea said it would reverse the steps taken under the 2007 agreements to disable its nuclear facilities, "putting their operation on a normal track." On April 16, Pyongyang ejected international and U.S. monitors from its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Escalating the situation further, Pyongyang also declared that it would "fully reprocess" the spent fuel rods from its Yongbyon reactor in order to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons. The 8,000 spent fuel rods from the reactor contain about 7-10 kilograms of plutonium, enough for one or two nuclear weapons. (See ACT, October 2008.)

In an April 25 Foreign Ministry statement, North Korea said that it has already begun separating this plutonium. "The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic power plant began as declared in the Foreign Ministry statement dated April 14," said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement said the move "will contribute to bolstering the nuclear deterrence for self-defense in every way."

It is unclear whether the reprocessing facility has been restored to its normal working condition. Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, told Arms Control Today last September that it would only take "a month or so" to restart operations at that facility once the equipment was moved back into place. (See ACT, October 2008.) In the September interview, he said that "the reprocessing facility was the one that was disabled the least." The disablement work on the reprocessing facility focused on the "front-end" loading operations because the other portions of the facility contain high-level radioactive waste, Hecker noted.

South Korea Considers Full PSI Membership

Seoul is mulling its own response to the Taepo Dong-2 launch. South Korea indicated prior to the launch that it would consider formally joining the U.S.-initiated Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) if North Korea went ahead with the action. (See ACT, April 2009.) Although Seoul appears to be in favor of joining the effort, reported divisions in the South Korean government seem to have delayed any final decision.

The Korea Herald reported April 23 that the delay is due in part to "competing foreign policy camps within government." The disagreement reportedly centers on concerns that North Korea may stoke a conflict in response to a South Korean decision to join the PSI. Pyongyang has warned that Seoul's membership in the PSI would constitute an "act of war," a threat it has reiterated in recent weeks. A South Korean diplomat told Arms Control Today in April that Seoul has begun taking additional precautionary steps to protect its civilian ships from threats by North Korean vessels.

The United States established the PSI in 2003 as an informal grouping of states that pledged to share information on and interdict suspected shipments of unconventional weapons and related goods. (See ACT, September 2003.) That year, the first 11 key participants identified North Korea as one of the "states of particular concern" with respect to the goals of the initiative. Seoul is currently an observer to the effort, which now includes more than 90 participants.

South Korean presidential spokesperson Lee Dong-kwan said during an April 14 press conference that the government planned to announce its decision after a high-level security policy meeting the following day. After that meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Moon Tae-young told reporters that although Seoul was committed to joining the initiative, it was postponing an announcement until the end of that week.

April 15, the date of the originally expected announcement, is also the date that North Korea celebrates the birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung. As of April 24, South Korea had yet to make an announcement on the PSI.

Although it has not publicly disclosed its decision, South Korea does appear to have shared it with PSI members. The Korea Times quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry official April 15 stating that Seoul "informed related countries of our plan to take part in the initiative," adding "we are also conducting internal procedures."

 

 

Iran Space Launch Raises Missile Concerns

Iran carried out a test of a space launch vehicle Aug. 17, claiming the test was in preparation for placing an Iranian satellite in orbit. Although not believed to have been successful, the test has continued to raise concerns in the West. U.S. and European governments fear that Iran's development of rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit will improve Iran's ability to build longer-range ballistic missiles. (Continue)

Peter Crail

Iran carried out a test of a space launch vehicle Aug. 17, claiming the test was in preparation for placing an Iranian satellite in orbit. Although not believed to have been successful, the test has continued to raise concerns in the West. U.S. and European governments fear that Iran's development of rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit will improve Iran's ability to build longer-range ballistic missiles.

Indeed, the rocket test did demonstrate the connection between Iran's ballistic missile program and its space program. The two-staged rocket, named Safir (Ambassador), is believed to make use of a modified version of Iran's most advanced ballistic missile system, the Shahab-3, as its first stage. The Safir's second stage appears to use an indigenously developed propulsion system. Iran has not yet successfully tested a multiple-staged missile or rocket.

The Aug. 17 rocket test followed the launch of two suborbital sounding rockets designed to carry out scientific experiments at high altitudes. The two rockets, launched in February 2007 and February 2008, were also variations of the Shahab-3 missile.

Iran carried out a test of the Shahab-3 during military exercises held July 9-10. Iranian officials claimed that the test involved a variant with a range of 2,000 kilometers. However, the missile appeared to have been a standard Shahab-3 missile with a range of about 1,200 kilometers. The dimensions of the missile reported by the Iranian state-run media July 9 were nearly identical to the estimated dimensions of the Shahab-3 originally developed in the late 1990s, leaving little room for modifications that would be needed to extend the missile's range.

Speaking to the Iranian press following the Aug. 17 space launch, Reza Taqipur, the head of Iran's Aerospace Organization, stressed the "home-grown" nature of the Safir system. The Shahab-3, the rocket's first stage, is based on North Korea's Nodong-1 ballistic missile design, but the second stage does appear to represent an advance in Iran's domestic ballistic missile capabilities. Former UN weapons inspector Geoffrey Forden told Arms Control Today Aug. 18 that the second stage of the Safir demonstrated that the increasing sophistication of Iran's missile development "is driven by indigenous innovation" as opposed to foreign assistance. He added that "the important thing is that Iran, not North Korea, not Iraq, is the first country to break out of the Scud type of missile mold."

Many countries in the developing world acquired Scud missiles from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the missiles have served as the template around which several missile programs have centered. North Korea's Nodong-1, for example, is based on the Scud design.

Specifically, Forden assessed that the second-stage rocket uses a new thrust vector control system and that the difficulties in developing such a system helps to explain why the Safir appeared to have flown off course during its second stage. This system provides a more efficient steering mechanism for the rocket to carry out course adjustments than traditional Scud-based designs.

Uzi Rubin, former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, agreed that the Safir's second stage represented a departure from the "Scud mold." Rubin told Arms Control Today Aug. 19 that "Iran took a risky path" by forgoing a previously tested Taepo Dong-1-based system and pursuing a newer design with only two stages.

North Korea tested a three-stage variant of its 2,000-kilometer-range Taepo Dong-1 ballistic missile as a space launch vehicle in 1998. The test failed due to a malfunction with its third stage.

Most space launch vehicles use more than two sets of engines in order to produce enough thrust to place satellites in orbit. Questioning why Iran decided not to add a third stage to the Safir, Rubin suggested that Tehran may have been discouraged by the failure of the third stage during North Korea's 1998 space test or that the first stage did not have enough thrust to permit the added weight of additional stages.

Using the two-stage design, the Safir would only have the lifting power to deliver a very small payload. Iran has declared its intention to use the system to launch its 20-kilogram Omid (Hope) satellite. Forden assessed that the Safir would not have sufficient power to place a satellite in orbit.

Experts generally consider missiles capable of carrying at least 500 kilograms to be usable for delivering a nuclear weapon.

In spite of Iran's missile advances, the country still faces a number of hurdles in increasing the range of its ballistic missiles. The Shahab-3, Iran's longest-range missile, reportedly has a range up to 2,000 kilometers, placing all of the Middle East and parts of southern Europe within striking distance. (See ACT, October 2007. )

Extending that range will require mastering the staging process. In addition to the failed Safir test, Iran's previous tests of multiple-stage missiles were unsuccessful, including the 2,000-kilometer-range Ashura in November 2007. (See ACT, January/February 2008. )

Tehran would also need to develop a re-entry vehicle for the missile's warhead to protect it upon return into the atmosphere. The United States and its allies claim that materials acquired from Iranian technicians by Western intelligence agencies demonstrate that Iran has been working on designs for a re-entry vehicle. A February 2008 International Atomic Energy Agency report stated that the re-entry design contained in these materials was "quite likely to be able to accommodate a nuclear device." (See ACT, March 2008. )

The United States responded to the test by highlighting the tie between the technologies used to develop space-faring rockets and those used to develop long-range ballistic missiles. National Security Council spokesperson Gordon Johndroe said Aug. 18 that Iran's test and the "dual-use possibilities for their ballistic missile program are inconsistent with their UN Security Council obligations."

The UN Security Council has adopted three resolutions sanctioning Iranian entities involved in Iran's missile programs and requiring that all states take steps to prevent Iran from acquiring technology relevant to the development of such missiles. However, the resolutions have not placed an obligation on Iran to halt or curtail these programs.

Israeli officials offered a more muted response to the launch. Yitzhak Ben Israel, chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, told Israeli public radio that because Israeli territory had already been within the range of Iran's Shahab-3 missiles, "the threat posed by Iran comes from its nuclear program and not from its satellites or ballistic missiles."

In response to the threats faced by Israel from Iran's missiles, the United States has agreed to deploy an X-band early-warning radar system to Israel that would potentially increase Israel's ability to track and intercept incoming ballistic missiles. According to the terms of the agreement, the details of which have yet to be finalized, the X-band system would be operated by U.S. personnel from the Pentagon's European Command.

Lt. General Henry Obering, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, told Defense News Aug. 7 that if the radar can be tied into Israel's Arrow missile defense system, Israel "will be able to launch that interceptor way before they could with an autonomous system."

Next Steps on the North Korean Nuclear Challenge

Sections:

Description: 

Since North Korea expelled international nuclear inspectors in late 2002, the international community has sought to persuade Pyongyang to halt and eliminate its nuclear weapons activities, which pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and stability. Although five countries (China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States) reached a September 2005 agreement with North Korea committing it to abandon its nuclear programs of concern, there has been little progress toward this goal. Indeed, Pyongyang has continued to operate its nuclear facilities and launched a round of ballistic missile tests in early July. The distinguished panel will make recommendations on what can be done to revitalize the deteriorating diplomatic process and make progress toward denuclearization in North Korea. (Continue)

Body: 

Arms Control Association Press Briefing
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
2:00 – 3:30 P.M.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room
1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Since North Korea expelled international nuclear inspectors in late 2002, the international community has sought to persuade Pyongyang to halt and eliminate its nuclear weapons activities, which pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and stability. Although five countries (China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States) reached a September 2005 agreement with North Korea committing it to abandon its nuclear programs of concern, there has been little progress toward this goal. Indeed, Pyongyang has continued to operate its nuclear facilities and launched a round of ballistic missile tests in early July. The distinguished panel will make recommendations on what can be done to revitalize the deteriorating diplomatic process and make progress toward denuclearization in North Korea.

Speakers:

Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), Chairman of the House International Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. First elected to Congress in 1976, Congressman Leach began his government service on the staff of then-Representative Donald Rumsfeld. Afterward, he became a Foreign Service Officer, during which time he worked at the former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

James A. Kelly, Senior Advisor and Distinguished Alumni at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). From 2001 through 2004, Kelly served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, where he was directly involved in talks with North Korea. His government career also included stints as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to President Ronald Reagan, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (East Asia and the Pacific).

Daniel Poneman, Principal at The Scowcroft Group. Mr. Poneman is a former National Security Council (NSC) staff director. He first joined the NSC in 1990 as Director of Defense Policy and Arms Control and was then promoted to Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Nonproliferation and Export Controls from 1993 through 1996. Mr. Poneman is the author or co-author of several books, including Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis.

Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association.

# # #

The Arms Control Association (ACA) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting effective arms control policies. ACA publishes the monthly journal Arms Control Today.

 

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More Realistic Missile Defense Testing Could Begin in 2005

More Realistic Missile Defense Testing Could Begin in 2005

Wade Boese

Pentagon officials indicated April 9 that strategic missile defense testing could start becoming more exacting and varied in early 2005, a few months after the limited ground-based midcourse missile defense system is to be deployed.

The Pentagon aims to field six ground-based missile interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and another four at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, late next year as the initial elements of what the Bush administration claims will eventually become a multilayered missile defense system protecting the entire United States.

Pentagon plans in 2001 described the Fort Greely site as part of a new “test bed,” which would enable the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to conduct missile defense tests over a broad triangular area of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from Alaska to southern California and out to the Marshall Islands. But the Bush administration announced a change in plans in December 2002, declaring that the proposed test bed would become an initial deployment. MDA Director Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish explained April 9, “In other words, instead of building a test bed that might be used operationally, we are fielding an initial defensive capability that we will continue to test.”

Kadish, who was testifying before the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, predicted that the first intercept test making use of the new capability would be during the first months of 2005. An MDA spokesperson said in an April 18 interview that the test would not involve firing any missile interceptors deployed at Fort Greely. “Nothing will be shot out of Fort Greely,” the spokesperson stated.

The exact details of the 2005 intercept test are undetermined. It could involve launching a target missile from Kodiak Island, Alaska and an interceptor either from Vandenberg or the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, according to the MDA spokesperson. Either scenario would be a first.

Beginning in October 1999, all eight of the ground-based strategic missile defense system intercept tests have followed the same pattern: a target missile is fired from Vandenberg; an interceptor is launched from Kwajalein roughly 20 minutes later; and, if successful an intercept takes place about 10 minutes later at an altitude of approximately 225 kilometers as both are descending. The testing tally stands at five successes and three failures, including the last test conducted December 11, 2002.

Thomas Christie, the director of the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation, testified at the same hearing as Kadish that changing where the target and interceptor are fired from “will be the first time we’ve gotten away from the relatively unrealistic geometries that we’ve been using.” Christie sent a February report to Congress explaining that past intercept testing has been limited because “all of the flight tests have similar flyout and engagement parameters.”

Christie also said future tests would involve more complex and tougher countermeasures, which are decoys or other methods that a potential adversary could use to make it more difficult for a warhead to be intercepted. Critics have contended a real attack could feature much more challenging foils than the balloon decoys MDA has previously employed.

MDA has paused intercept testing while it focuses on preparing a booster for the interceptors to be deployed next year.

Intercept testing in the past has used a surrogate booster that accelerates slower than the deployed system’s booster is expected. A review panel led by retired General Larry Welch warned in November 1999 that the system’s exoatmospheric kill vehicle, which is carried into space by the booster and then separates from it to seek out and collide with an incoming warhead, might not be able to withstand the higher shock loads generated by a more powerful booster.

Earlier Pentagon plans called for having the new booster available for intercept testing by the beginning of 2001, but it has been delayed. Current planning is to select the new booster from two competing models that are both to be flight-tested twice later this year.

Assuming that one or both of the boosters prove capable, MDA is planning to carry out a minimum of two intercept tests involving a new booster before the 10 interceptors are to be fielded in Alaska and California, according to the MDA spokesperson. These tests would most likely repeat the pattern of earlier tests, although there is discussion that one of the tests could be the first to have a target launched from Kodiak and an interceptor fired fromVandenberg.

The Pentagon argues that deploying unproven or rudimentary defenses is preferable to having nothing. “I believe there is tremendous benefit in putting this unprecedented technology into the field in manageable increments to provide some defense, to learn more about it and gain experience, and improve it over time,” Kadish declared.

Democratic lawmakers have blasted this rationale. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), a leading missile defense skeptic, criticized the Bush administration’s 2004 deployment plan a few months ago as violating “common sense by determining to deploy systems before they have been tested and shown to work.”

 

 

 

 

India, Pakistan Trade Tit-for-Tat Missile Tests

Returning to an old pattern of tit-for-tat missile testing, India and Pakistan each tested short-range, nuclear-capable missiles March 26...

Rose Gordon

Returning to an old pattern of tit-for-tat missile testing, India and Pakistan each tested short-range, nuclear-capable missiles March 26. It is not clear who launched the first missile, but most media reports suggest India took the lead.

Since the back-to-back 1998 nuclear tests, a missile test by one state has usually prompted the other to respond with its own test in a face-off of missile strength and capability. This January and February, however, India tested four missiles without any response from Pakistan. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Both countries signed a joint memorandum of understanding in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1999, which requires that prior notice be given before a ballistic missile test takes place. This memorandum was signed shortly after the 1998 nuclear tests in order to engage the two states in confidence-building measures to limit the threat of an actual nuclear showdown. In a March 26 statement, however, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pakistan did not receive notice from India this time and that the missile test came as a surprise.

A spokesman with the Indian embassy in Washington said India informed “all relevant entities.”

In response to a question about the possible lack of notification on India’s side, an official Indian spokesperson said in a March 26 press briefing, “The confidence-building measure which will really have any meaning is for Pakistan to end its senseless perpetration of terrorism against India.” India blames Pakistan for directly supporting militants who oppose Indian rule in its portion of the disputed Kashmir territory; Pakistan denies direct involvement.

It is unclear how far Pakistan has progressed in developing the Abdali missile that Pakistan tested March 26. The Prithvi-I that India tested, however, has been inducted into the Indian armed forces, according to a March 5 statement by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes.

India is developing and testing five different missile systems under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). When the defense department determines that a particular missile has passed the required test, the missile might be put into production for use—induction—into the military. Several of the five systems are currently in the process of being inducted into the armed forces, including the Prithvi-II, the Dhanush, and both variants of the Agni missile, Fernandes said.

It is unclear when the Agni missiles will be available for military use. The Agni-I and Agni-II missiles are “under production,” Fernandes said in the March 5 statement. This is the second time that Fernandes has said that the 2,000-kilometer range Agni-II is ready for production and induction. In March 2002, he stated that the Agni-II “entered [the] production phase and is currently under induction.”

A third, longer-range variant of the Agni—the Agni-III—has not yet been tested, and it is unclear how far along it is in development.

Pentagon, Levin Dispute Missile Defense Success, Testing

Top Pentagon officials testifying in March on U.S. missile defense programs assured senators that the Pentagon intends to thoroughly test an anti-ballistic missile...

Wade Boese

Top Pentagon officials testifying in March on U.S. missile defense programs assured senators that the Pentagon intends to thoroughly test an anti-ballistic missile system to be fielded next year and never intended otherwise, despite concerns to the contrary voiced by long-time missile defense skeptic Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). Although having seemingly assuaged Levin’s concerns, one official sparked a sharp exchange with the senator by claiming the system would have a 90 percent chance of shooting down a ballistic missile launched from North Korea next year.

Before Pentagon witnesses had a chance to speak at a March 18 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Levin assailed the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2004 budget request for including a provision that he said would exempt the Pentagon from having to subject its ground-based midcourse missile defense system to testing that would be representative of a real-world situation, officially referred to as operational testing. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Fielding of the ground-based system, which is designed to launch interceptors into space to collide with enemy warheads, is set to begin next year with four missile interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and six at Fort Greely, Alaska. Another ten interceptors are to be added at Fort Greely during 2005.

The Pentagon officials, led by Undersecretary of Defense Edward Aldridge, acknowledged the language in the budget request that raised Levin’s concerns but said the purpose was not to avoid operational testing. They said operational testing would be conducted after the system’s elements are in place. Operational testing typically takes place prior to a system’s deployment, but the Pentagon contends that such testing in the case of missile defense cannot be done until after it is deployed.

Of the four officials testifying, only one—Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency—claimed he knew of the budget provision before it was sent to Congress, and he told Levin that it could be changed to allay the senator’s concerns.

Although it appeared that Levin had been placated, the senator’s ire rose again when Aldridge predicted that the proposed system, if deployed next year, would perform with 90 percent effectiveness against a missile launched by North Korea. Aldridge replied “Yes, sir” when Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) asked that, if “there’s the possibility of the North Koreans hitting Los Angeles or San Francisco with a nuclear warhead, you are advising [the president] that we would have a 90 percent chance of taking that down before it could get there…and if millions of lives depend on it, that’s your answer?”

Levin rebuked Aldridge for providing an estimate at an unclassified hearing, and then he suggested it was wrong. “I am surprised at your answer because I know the classified number,” Levin stated.

Aldridge’s estimate also appeared at odds with statements by the other witnesses. Kadish said the Pentagon had confidence in the “basic technologies” and that the “approach we are using is a sound one,” but he also admitted that testing to date has been “very scripted.” In the system’s eight intercept attempts, five of which succeeded, the interceptor’s kill vehicle was preprogrammed with information on the target, and the initial intercept plan fed to the interceptor was calculated by tracking a beacon attached to the target.

Thomas Christie, director of the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation, noted that the Fort Greely site “may have some capability to defend against an actual threat and a real attack, depending, of course, on certain assumptions about intelligence of an imminent attack and the positioning of sensors to acquire, track, and target the threat.” At this time, the Pentagon possesses a limited radar capability to provide the tracking information needed for a successful intercept, although it plans to upgrade an early-warning radar in Alaska by next year to provide an improved capability and hopes to build a more advanced radar on a sea-based platform in 2005.

Two days later at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Aldridge explained that his projection of 90 percent effectiveness was for a specific scenario of a single missile launched at the United States and was predicated on the U.S. ability to fire multiple interceptors at the target. An MDA spokesperson would not comment on Aldridge’s estimate in a March 21 interview.

DOD Wants to Field Defenses Without Calling It Deployment

As part of its fiscal year 2004 budget request, the Bush administration is asking Congress to treat plans to field up to 40 ground- and sea-based missile interceptors...

Wade Boese

As part of its fiscal year 2004 budget request, the Bush administration is asking Congress to treat plans to field up to 40 ground- and sea-based missile interceptors before 2006 as part of a research and development program and not as an acquisition program. Some Democratic senators see the move as a Pentagon attempt to begin deploying missile defense systems without subjecting them to rigorous or realistic testing.

President George W. Bush announced December 17, 2002, that the United States would field the initial elements of an evolutionary, multilayered missile defense system in 2004 and 2005. These first elements would include up to 20 ground-based missile interceptors for use against long-range ballistic missiles and 20 sea-based interceptors to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Both types of interceptors have yet to be subjected to tests resembling real-world scenarios. The Pentagon refers to such testing as operational testing.

U.S. law—section 2399 of Title 10 of the United States Code—requires that major defense systems, defined as any system costing more than $115 million to research and develop, complete operational testing before proceeding past “low-rate initial production.” The Pentagon is requesting more than $9.1 billion in missile defense funding for fiscal year 2004. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Some Democrats in Congress assert that Pentagon plans to deploy up to 40 missile interceptors exceed the understood definition of low-rate initial production, thereby requiring the interceptors to be operationally tested before being fielded. The legal prohibition was crafted to prevent faulty or immature systems from being passed to the armed services.

A spokesperson for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which oversees missile defense research and development, said that MDA intends to operationally test the missile defense system after the interceptors are fielded. Democratic Senate staffers, however, argue that that process is backwards since the goal of operational testing is to determine whether a weapons system works well enough to merit deployment.

The Pentagon contends it has adopted a new approach, called spiral development, to make weapons systems available to military users earlier in the production process. Strongly criticized by some lawmakers, spiral development calls for fielding weapons systems before they are perfected in order to have some basic capability quickly with the aim of improving systems as time passes.

Although Thomas Christie, the director of the Pentagon’s office of Operational Test and Evaluation, endorsed the general concept of spiral development in his office’s annual review of Pentagon systems under development, he also struck a cautionary note. “I recognize and agree, in principle, with the desire to field new capabilities as soon as possible, but that desire should be tempered with the responsibility to ensure that the weapons will not put Americans at risk,” Christie wrote in a February report to Congress. (See ACT, March 2003.) “We must reinforce the principle that systems that go to war must be tested the way they will be employed,” he added.

At a February 13 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld defended the Pentagon’s plans to deploy missile interceptors prior to their operational testing. “I happen to think that thinking we cannot deploy something…until you have everything perfect, every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed, it’s probably not a good idea,” he testified. “I think we need to get something out there, in the ground, at sea, and in a way that we can test it. We can look at it, we can develop it, we can evolve it, and…learn from the experimentation with it.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a February 19 letter to Rumsfeld contesting his position. “I believe that any deployed missile defense system, must meet the same requirements and standards that we set for all other fully operational weapons systems,” she wrote. “I simply do not understand how we can go forward with the deployment of a missile defense system which may or may not work and which the Department of Defense apparently does not believe needs to be fully or realistically tested.”

The dispute comes down to how the Pentagon’s plans for basing up to 40 missiles interceptors in Alaska and California and aboard naval ships beginning in 2004 are to be labeled.

Pentagon officials appear to want it both ways. They would prefer that the interceptors be recognized by Congress as part of a “test bed” for research and development. At the same time, they tout the inherent operational capability of the proposed test bed in public statements, creating the aura of a deployed system.

Congressional critics see the test bed as simply the first stage of a much bigger deployment, which is the impression President Bush made when he declared December 17 that he was “pleased to announce that we will take another important step in countering [the threats of the 21st century] by beginning to field missile defense capabilities to protect the United States, as well as our friends and allies.” These critics charge the Pentagon wants to avoid testing that could reveal the system’s flaws and postpone deployment of the interceptors beyond 2004, which some Democratic legislators have charged is a politically motivated deadline because it is a presidential election year.

Rumsfeld explained in the February 13 hearing that finding the right term to describe the Pentagon’s plans is controversial. “And the words are hot button words because the testing is required before deployment but not before a test bed, and yet the reality is the test bed offers a deployable minimal capability,” Rumsfeld stated.

The Clinton administration had a plan to field a total of 20 ground-based interceptors in Alaska by the end of 2005. The Pentagon described that plan as a deployment.

India Conducts Four Missile Tests

India conducted four separate missile tests in January and February, including one of the nuclear-capable Agni-I on January 9...

Rose Gordon

India conducted four separate missile tests in January and February, including one of the nuclear-capable Agni-I on January 9.

Calling the Agni test a “routine” part of India’s guided missile program, P.K. Bandopadhyay, an Indian Ministry of Defense spokesman, said the test was unrelated to any recent tensions between India and Pakistan, according to an Agence France-Presse report January 9. Pakistan did not test any missiles in response to the Indian test.

The Agni-I, first tested in January 2002, has a range of 700-750 kilometers and can be launched from rail and road sites, allowing for easy transport. It is an adaptation of the 1,500-2,500 range Agni-II—India’s only ballistic missile that could hit China. The Agni-I could increase India’s ability to reach targets in Pakistan, but not China, if it is inducted into the Indian armed forces.

On January 9, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher reiterated comments he made after India and Pakistan tested missiles in October 2002, saying that the test contributed “to a charged atmosphere” on the subcontinent. He added that, despite publicly announcing the tests in advance, India’s latest test would “make it harder to prevent a costly and destabilizing nuclear and missile arms race.” (See ACT, November 2002.)

Most recently, India tested a Brahmos cruise missile, with a 280-290 kilometer range, February 12. The anti-ship Brahmos missile has been in development since 1998 through a joint venture by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and Russia.

India tested its surface-to-air missile—the Akash, with a range of 25 kilometers—January 18 and then again January 20. The Akash has been compared to U.S. Patriot anti-aircraft missiles.

All of the tests took place at the Chandipur test site in Orissa, and each one met the mission requirements for the test, according to Sunil Lal, a spokesman for India’s embassy in Washington. The Agni-I, the Brahmos, and the Akash missiles are all in advanced stages of development and will be ready for induction upon completion of testing trials, Lal said.

Asad Hayauddin, a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Washington, said that, although the missile tests did not come as a surprise, the Pakistani government condemned them. Citing the history of tit-for-tat missile testing between the nuclear rivals, Hayauddin said tests such as these contribute to a tense environment.

Kill-Vehicle Contract Awarded Without Full Review, GAO Says

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported January 27 that the contract for a key element of the Pentagon’s strategic missile defense system was not awarded on technical or cost considerations...

Wade Boese

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported January 27 that the contract for a key element of the Pentagon’s strategic missile defense system was not awarded on technical or cost considerations, but because one of the two companies competing for the project wrongly obtained and used secret information from its rival.

In late 1998, Raytheon Co. was chosen to build an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV)—a light-weight device launched into space atop a rocket to locate and collide with an enemy warhead. Although a division of Boeing Co. had an alternative EKV program underway, GAO found that “no formal criteria were used to evaluate the two systems, and there was no formal technical comparison or analysis used by the decisionmaker to select the EKV.”

Tasked with conducting studies and investigations for Congress, GAO determined that Raytheon won the EKV contract because of concerns that a fair competition could not be held since Boeing employees had acquired and then “surreptitiously” used a Raytheon software testing document. “The anticipated evaluation of the competing EKV systems was never made,” GAO reported.

The Raytheon EKV is now part of the proposed missile defense system that the Bush administration plans to start deploying next year. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

Allegations that Raytheon won the contract by default have been made for years, but GAO is the first government body to confirm them officially.

In April 1998, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), now the Missile Defense Agency, named Boeing the lead company in charge of managing the ground-based missile defense program, meaning that Boeing was put in charge of awarding contracts for various elements of the system, including the EKV. At the time, a division of Boeing had been working on an EKV design for roughly eight years and was competing with Raytheon for the EKV contract. Boeing assured Raytheon that a fair EKV competition would be held.

But at the end of July 1998, a Boeing official found the Raytheon software testing document in a conference room of Boeing’s EKV team. Boeing notified Raytheon of the discovery and then spent the next few months trying to reassure Raytheon that a fair EKV selection could still take place. Raytheon remained unconvinced.

With Raytheon unmoved by Boeing assurances and growing concern that an EKV decision had to be made sooner rather than later in order for a system to be tested in time for a scheduled June 2000 presidential deployment decision, Boeing gave Raytheon the EKV contract. BMDO agreed with the Boeing move.

Both Boeing and BMDO, according to GAO, believed either EKV was advanced enough to select for future flight-testing. A top Boeing official, however, told GAO that some concern existed that the Boeing EKV effort was falling behind schedule.

GAO was unable to find any document setting out a formal decision to abandon a competition between the two companies, both of which had received roughly $400 million from the Pentagon to develop their separate EKVs up to that point.

To guard against the possibility of being left without an option if the Raytheon EKV performed poorly in testing, Boeing and BMDO decided to keep funding a Boeing backup effort at approximately $4 million per month until after the system’s fourth flight test, which occurred in January 2000.

The U.S. government decided against prosecuting or punishing Boeing, which fired three employees and suspended another for their actions, and last summer it dropped efforts to recover some financial compensation. Boeing remains in charge of developing the ground-based missile defense system.

Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), who commissioned the GAO report, stated February 7, “This study revealed a horribly flawed process and some inexplicable conduct by missile defense officials and contractors, both in pursuing the most effective system and in protecting U.S. taxpayers.”

In light of the GAO findings, Berman also questioned the validity of recent Pentagon efforts to reduce congressional reporting requirements on missile defense programs. “This report demonstrates the real dangers associated with such a trend,” Berman warned.

India, Pakistan Conduct Missile Tests

On October 4, Pakistan tested its Hatf-4 (Shaheen-1) surface-to-surface missile, which can carry a 500-kilogram payload 750 kilometers, followed by a second Haft-4 test October 8. The last time Pakistan tested a ballistic missile was in May 2002, when it tested three nuclear-capable missiles. (See ACT, June 2002.)

Hours after the October 4 test, India tested an Akash surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 kilometers. Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said that India would not respond to Pakistan’s second test, Agence France Presse reported October 8.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said October 4 that Washington was “disappointed” by both countries’ tests because they could contribute to a “destabilizing nuclear and missile arms race.”

India and Pakistan each accused the other of having strategic and political motivations while claiming that its own tests were driven by other considerations. Pakistan said it conducted its tests for technical reasons, a Foreign Office spokesman said in an October 7 press conference, while Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon accused India of engaging in an arms race, according to Agence France Presse October 4.

Indian Defense Ministry spokesman P. K. Bandhopadhyay stated that India was testing “different parameters of the missile,” the Associated Press reported October 4. Another government spokesperson dismissed Pakistan’s tests as politically motivated, saying they were “targeted at the forthcoming general elections” in an October 4 statement.

India held elections in its portion of Kashmir—a territory India and Pakistan have repeatedly fought over—in September and October to elect a new regional state assembly. Pakistan held national parliamentary elections October 10 for the first time since President Pervez Musharraf took power three years ago.

In a potentially positive sign for the region, India announced October 16 that it would withdraw some troops from the international border with Pakistan, and Pakistan followed with a similar announcement the next day. Neither country, however, announced plans to reduce the number of forces stationed along the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the two countries.

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