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The Arms Control Association is an "exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size." 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
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Ottawa Convention States Meet

More than 90 countries met September 18-21 in Managua, Nicaragua, to review implementation of a treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). Despite their success in destroying millions of APLs worldwide, the states-parties to the Ottawa Convention stated that they “remain deeply concerned” about continued APL use, and they vowed to make the weapons “objects of the past.”

Taking stock of accomplishments since the treaty entered into force on March 1, 1999, the states-parties noted in the meeting’s final declaration that 28 countries had completed destruction of their stockpiled APLs and that another 19 had programs underway. Under the treaty, states-parties are charged with destroying their APL stockpiles within four years and all APLs under their control, including those planted in the soil, within 10 years, although countries may request an extension.

Speakers at the meeting noted that, despite the progress in destroying APLs, governments and non-state actors in more than 20 ongoing conflicts were still using the weapons. Allegations of treaty violations by one state-party, Uganda, and some signatories, such as Angola, Burundi, and Sudan, were voiced, although no country made a formal request to seek clarification of the matter, according to the meeting’s president, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Xavier Aguirre Sacasa. Uganda denied the allegation.

The states-parties urged all countries to join the convention. Major powers, such as the United States, Russia, and China, as well as most countries in the Near East and approximately half of all countries in the Asia-Pacific region have not signed the treaty. The number of treaty signatories and states-parties now stands at 141, of which 120 are states-parties.

The next annual states-parties meeting will take place September 16-20, 2002, in Geneva.

Joint U.S.-Russian TMD Exercise Conducted

On February 11, the United States and Russia concluded a 10-day joint theater missile defense (TMD) exercise at the Joint National Test Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The exercise was the first phase of a two-part exercise aimed at improving the capability of U.S. and Russian forces to operate together to protect against short- and medium-range ballistic missile attacks in the event the two forces are deployed together and face a common adversary.

The principal focus of the exercise was establishing and refining common procedures for the two sides to "communicate and cooperate" with one another, a Defense Department spokesperson said. The exercise was computer simulated and the two forces were given generic TMD capabilities with the same performance parameters, minimizing the danger that any sensitive information could be compromised. According to the Pentagon spokesperson, approximately 80 Americans and 32 Russians participated in the exercise, which cost $735,000.

The United States and Russia have held two other joint TMD exercises. Initiated by then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in September 1994, the first of the exercises took place in Colorado in 1996, and the second occurred in Moscow in 1998.

The second part of this latest exercise is scheduled to take place next year from January 23 to February 3 in Fort Bliss, Texas, where U.S. and Russian teams will be tasked with responding to simulated ballistic missile attacks by using the procedures worked out during the first phase. The spokesperson described this second phase as "limited field testing."

Russia Consolidates Leading Arms-Export Firms

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree November 4 merging Russia's two largest state-owned arms exporters into a single new company called Rosoboronexport. Putin ordered the merger to stop the two leading exporters, Rosvooruzheniye and Promexport, from competing against one another and, in effect, driving down the cost of Russian weaponry, an important source of hard currency for Moscow. The new company, which will handle an estimated 90 percent of all Russian arms exports, will report to the Ministry of Defense as opposed to the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology, which previously oversaw Russian arms exports.

Putin's decree marked the reversal of an August 1997 effort by then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin to increase Russian arms exports in the post-Cold War market by breaking up Rosvooruzheniye's state-granted monopoly of the Russian arms trade through the creation of two additional entities, Promexport and Russian Technologies. Yeltsin assigned each entity separate responsibilities, hoping to streamline the Russian arms export process, but the boundaries between the entities blurred, leading to unexpected competition.

Andrei Belyaninov, a deputy director of Promexport, was appointed head of Rosoboronexport, while deputy positions at the new company were reportedly offered to the directors of Rosvooruzheniye and Promexport, which merged with Russian Technologies earlier this year.

Since the end of the Cold War, Moscow has sought to increase its share of the arms market after experiencing a dramatic decline in new weapons deals. Russian arms deliveries fell to a few billion dollars per year over the past decade after exceeding $20 billion per year during the mid- and late- 1980s. Though the Congressional Research Service reported in August that Russian arms agreements rose from $2.5 billion in 1998 to $4.8 billion in 1999, new deals have often fallen short of Russian industry forecasts. In a November 13 statement, the Kremlin reassured current clients that all existing contracts would be fulfilled and that talks underway would not be slowed by Putin's decree.

Russia Consolidates Leading Arms-Export Firms

China Seeks Airborne Radar From Russia

Visiting Beijing in early November, Russian officials discussed possible new arms deals with China, including the sale of up to five planes designed for airborne early-warning (AEW) missions. China currently does not possess any AEW platforms, which enable militaries to significantly extend the range at which they can monitor foreign military activities and guide their own aircraft. In 1996, China concluded a deal to acquire an Israeli AEW system, known as the Phalcon, but Israel pulled out of the deal July 11 under heavy U.S. pressure. Washington had been concerned about how the sale could impact the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. (See ACT, September 2000.)

Russia is reportedly offering China upgraded versions of the Beriev A-50 plane, referred to as "Mainstay" by NATO, which would permit China to simultaneously track tens, and perhaps hundreds, of targets as far as 400 kilometers away, while directing some 10-30 Chinese aircraft. A June 2000 Pentagon report indicated that Chinese incorporation of AEW and aerial refueling planes could be a "significant force multiplier for China's air forces, although only for relatively small numbers of aircraft at any one time."

China is also reportedly interested in buying an additional two Sovremennyy-class destroyers from Russia. The first of two previously bought destroyers arrived in China this past February, while the second is expected to arrive by the end of the year.

China Seeks Airborne Radar From Russia

Next Navy Theater Wide Test Planned

October 2000

The U.S. Navy plans to conduct the next flight test of its Navy Theater Wide (NTW) anti-ballistic missile system before the end of this year but has yet to set a definitive date. In an August 31 announcement, the Navy said the test, the third overall, will repeat the mission of a failed July 14 test, whose objective was to demonstrate the NTW interceptor missile's third-stage booster for the first time. Unlike the previous flight test, the upcoming test will include a target, though no intercept will be attempted.

Pentagon plans for the NTW system envision deployment of SM-3 interceptor missiles on U.S. cruisers and destroyers equipped with upgraded versions of Aegis combat systems, the key element of which is an advanced radar capable of simultaneously detecting and tracking over 100 targets while carrying out missile-guidance operations. Powered by a three-stage booster, the SM-3 missile will carry a kinetic warhead designed to collide with medium- and long-range theater ballistic missile warheads above the atmosphere.

In the July 14 test, the second- and third-stage boosters of the SM-3 missile failed to separate. The Navy identified a programming error in the interceptor's navigation processor as the "most probable cause" of failure. Nevertheless, a mission review team will evaluate "all possible failure paths" before the next test, according to the Navy statement. This first series of tests is to be completed by September 2002, when another round of testing will begin against more realistic targets. The Navy has set a 2006 target date for deployment of the first, limited capability NTW system.

Next Navy Theater Wide Test Planned

CD Ends First Part of 2000 Session

April 2000

The UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) concluded the first part of its 2000 negotiating session March 23 without a work program agreement, thereby preventing any negotiations from starting. Germany, on behalf of 22 members, including the United States, tried to break the CD deadlock with a work program proposal on the final day, but failed.

The 66-member conference, which operates by consensus, has not conducted any substantive negotiations since completing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and has not agreed on a work program for two of the last three years. The current impediment to a work program agreement is a dispute between the United States and China over negotiating priorities. Beijing wants formal negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, while Washington wants to renew negotiations, agreed to in both 1995 and 1998, on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The German proposal called for establishing ad hoc committees—the CD subsidiary body for negotiations—on a cutoff treaty and negative security assurances, as well as for appointing special coordinators to head consultations on anti-personnel landmines, transparency in armaments, review of the conference agenda, expansion of CD membership, and improvement of the conference's functioning. On nuclear disarmament and outer space, Germany proposed continuing talks to agree on the appropriate way to deal with these issues. Though countries in addition to the 22 associated with the statement voiced support for the German proposal, it failed to elicit the necessary consensus for action. The conference will start the second of three parts of its 2000 negotiating session May 22.

CD Ends First Part of 2000 Session

Ukraine Ratifies Open Skies Treaty

April 2000

After three failed attempts to do so in past years, Ukraine ratified the 1992 Open Skies Treaty on March 2. Of the 27 treaty signatories, only Russia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have yet to ratify the treaty, which will permit states-parties to conduct unarmed observation flights over the entire territories of other treaty members. The treaty will not enter into force until Russia and Belarus ratify the accord because it requires all signatories with passive quotas—the number of flights a country is obligated to permit over its territory each year—of eight or more to ratify the treaty before it can enter into force. A country's quota is loosely scaled to the size of its territory.

Washington is raising Open Skies ratification with Moscow, but Russian ratification of START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are higher priorities for both states. Until entry into force, the treaty is in provisional application with several states, including Russia, conducting trial flights. The United States has participated in 51 trial missions since 1993.

Ukraine Ratifies Open Skies Treaty

Mixed U.S. Signals on Israel-China Deal

A Russian-made aircraft destined for the Chinese military arrived in Israel October 25 to be outfitted with the Phalcon advanced airborne early-warning (AEW) radar system, eliciting contradictory reactions from the Clinton administration. While press reports indicated that the White House had raised concerns about the sale and other Israeli military transfers to China, the State Department publicly downplayed the deal.

In a November 12 press briefing State Department spokesman James Rubin said the U.S. government had "no reason to believe" that the Israeli radar contained any U.S.-controlled technology and therefore American law could not prohibit the sale. However, Rubin stressed that the U.S. regularly holds discussions with Israel on arms sales, particularly ones that involve "sophisticated technology."

Though receipt of the Israeli Phalcon radar system, which enables surveillance activities up to a range of 250 miles, will give China its first AEW capability, the benefit to the Chinese air force will be restricted by a number of practical factors, including the limited time that a single plane can be in service. Beijing will also have to train new crews to operate the plane and will be dependent upon Israel for future maintenance. The initial contract, signed in 1996, called for Israel to equip four Russian-manufactured IL-76 planes with the Phalcon radar, costing $250 million apiece, but Beijing may postpone radar installation on and delivery of the three remaining planes for budgetary reasons and to assess the performance of the first plane.

Israel and China have a history of arms deals and military cooperation dating back to 1979, including work on air-to-air missiles and China's latest indigenously built fighter aircraft, the J-10. On an October visit to Israel, Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian reportedly discussed Israeli upgrade of China's aging MiG-21 fleet.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency Created

On October 1, Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced the merger of several Pentagon agencies to form the new Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), whose mission is to combat the danger of weapons of mass destruction. "At least 25 countries are in the process of developing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and the means to deliver them," warned Cohen at DTRA's headquarters near Dulles International Airport. "We must confront these threats in places like Baghdad before they come to our shores."

The formation of DTRA, recommended by the 1997 Defense Reform Initiative, consolidates the Defense Technology Security Agency, Defense Special Weapons Agency, and On-Site Inspection Agency. DTRA's eight directorates include Nuclear Support, On-Site Inspection, Cooperative Threat Reduction, Technology Security, Special Weapons Technology, Chem-Bio Defense, Counterproliferation, and Force Protection. DTRA Director Dr. Jay C. Davis, former associate director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will report to the under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology. The new agency has roughly 2,100 employees and a fiscal year 1999 budget of about $1.9 billion.

U.S., Russia Sign 'Nuclear Cities' Agreement

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov signed an agreement September 22 to create commercial enterprises that will provide peaceful employment for displaced weapons scientists and technicians in Russia's 10 closed "nuclear cities." Unlike past efforts to provide employment opportunities for Russian weapons workers, through the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow and the Department of Energy's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, the new program, called the Nuclear Cities Initiative, will focus exclusively on the closed nuclear cities. In fiscal year 1999, DOE expects to spend a total of $30 million to support activities in these cities. The agreement responds to growing U.S. concerns that former Soviet weapons scientists may be tempted to sell their expertise abroad due to deteriorating economic conditions at home.

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