Login/Logout

*
*  
"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
About ACA

Russia Opens CW Destruction Plant

Russia opened its first chemical weapons destruction plant in Gorny August 21 but does not plan to begin actually destroying weapons at the site until December.

Diplomats from Europe, the United States, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons attended a ceremony opening the plant, which has been partially funded by international contributions.

Germany will have provided more than $39 million for the plant’s construction by the end of 2002, making it Germany’s largest nonproliferation project in Russia, according to the German embassy in Washington. The European Union has also provided almost $5.9 million.

Russia’s July 2001 chemical demilitarization plan calls for beginning operations at Gorny in 2002 and completing destruction of the weapons stored at the plant, mostly mustard and lewisite agents, by 2005. Under the plan, Russia would begin scrapping chemical weapons at two other facilities, Shchuch’ye and Kambarka, in 2005. (See ACT, September 2001.)

The Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is a state-party, calls for member states to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles by 2007, but the Russian plan indicates that Moscow will miss that deadline and not complete its chemical demilitarization until 2012. The convention allows for an extension of up to five years, and Russia has asked the OPCW, which oversees implementation of the CWC, to grant it extra time.

The United States has also said it will miss the 2007 deadline because of delays in its chemical weapon destruction program. (See ACT, November 2001.)

U.S. Steps up Missile Defense Marketing Abroad

The Pentagon and U.S. arms companies have increased efforts following the June 13 U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to get foreign governments and businesses more involved in U.S. missile defense programs, but their labors have yielded few tangible results as yet.

Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, who directs U.S. missile defense programs, has repeatedly said in recent months that one of the chief benefits of withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty was that it opened the door to foreign participation in strategic missile defense work against long-range ballistic missiles. The accord prohibited Washington and Moscow from transferring any strategic missile defense systems or components to other countries and, in Kadish’s words, from sharing “blueprint data.”

Germany, Israel, Italy, and Japan are all currently participating in theater missile defense projects with the United States to protect against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, defenses the ABM Treaty permitted.

The Pentagon held a series of July meetings with foreign governments on ballistic missile defense, including a collective meeting with NATO members July 18 in Brussels. Pentagon officials presented briefings about the current ballistic missile threat as well as the status of U.S. missile defense programs. They also outlined possible ways in which foreign governments could contribute to or participate in various missile defense projects.

U.S. officials further pressed NATO’s other 18 members to agree to include a statement endorsing missile defense in their final communiqué at the upcoming NATO summit in Prague, which is scheduled for November 21-22.

Foreign reaction to the U.S. missile defense push has been mixed, with Germany reportedly expressing the greatest reservation. Although several key European countries made public their skepticism and opposition to U.S. strategic missile defense plans a few years ago, most European capitals have softened their tone after the U.S. treaty withdrawal and Moscow’s muted response.

Boeing, a top contractor for U.S. missile defense systems, signed agreements July 23 with three different European companies to explore possible future cooperation on missile defense, although specific projects or products have not been identified. The agreements, each termed a “memorandum of understanding,” were concluded with BAE Systems, a British company; Alenia Spazio, an Italian company; and EADS, a joint French, German, and Spanish company.

U.S. Opens Door for Arms Sales to Afghanistan

On July 2, the State Department announced that, for the first time in a decade, U.S. arms companies would be permitted to sell weapons and military equipment to Afghanistan. Under the new policy, U.S. arms manufacturers may make deals with the current Afghan government or with UN-authorized international security forces in the country, but arms exports to any other entity in Afghanistan remain outlawed.

Few export licenses have been requested since the policy change. Near the end of August, the Office of Defense Trade Controls, which licenses arms deals carried out directly between U.S. companies and foreign customers, had approved one proposed deal for communications equipment and was reviewing two other export requests. U.S. government officials are not anticipating a flood of possible deals because Afghanistan lacks the funds to make many purchases.

President Bush, however, signed the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act August 2, which authorizes $50 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funds for Afghanistan and $20 million for peacekeeping efforts there. Buyers of U.S. arms can use FMF financing, which comes in the form of a grant or a loan, to make purchases of weaponry, military hardware, services, or training from private U.S. companies or the Pentagon. Initial Afghan buys are not expected to be for major weaponry but for items such as canteens and uniforms.

Pentagon officials encouraged the State Department’s July 2 move because they wanted the policy governing commercial arms sales to match their interest in allowing sales to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, which is administrated separately. It is not clear exactly when the Pentagon decided to permit arms sales to Afghanistan through the government-to-government FMS program, but the Pentagon now considers Afghanistan an eligible recipient for U.S. arms.

The United States maintained an informal policy of denying all weapons trade with Afghanistan or any entity in the country from 1992 until June 1996, when the policy became official.

China Reportedly Tests Air-to-Air Missile

In late June, China test-fired Russian-made AA-12 Adder missiles, also known as the R-77, for the first time, according to a July 1 Washington Times article. Acquisition and deployment of these advanced dog-fighting missiles would give Chinese fighter aircraft the capability of attacking targets from a distance of at least 50 kilometers.

The United States sold Taiwan a comparable U.S. missile, the AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), in September 2000 but conditioned its delivery to Taiwan on another country in the region getting a similar missile first. A State Department spokesperson interviewed August 26 would not say whether the U.S. government would now be delivering the 200 AMRAAMs to Taiwan, commenting only that the United States intends to fulfill the terms of its contract. A Pentagon spokesperson gave a similar line, but also pointed out that the AMRAAMs for Taiwan have not been built yet.

According to a July 12 Pentagon report, a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait is the “primary driver” behind China’s military modernization and arms acquisitions. The report declared that Chinese offensive capabilities are improving annually, increasing Beijing’s “number of credible options to intimidate or actually attack Taiwan.”

China has also recently negotiated with Russia, its main arms supplier, to buy eight diesel-electric Kilo-class attack submarines, adding to the four it has already acquired. This recent deal mirrors a U.S. offer in April 2001 to provide Taiwan with eight diesel-powered submarines, although that deal is currently stalled. Washington and Taipei have yet to determine whether Taiwan can actually afford the submarines, and they also need to find a manufacturer because the United States builds only nuclear-powered submarines.

Open Skies Flights Begin

In August, Russia conducted the first observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty since the accord entered into force January 1. Other treaty states-parties, including the United States, are expected to begin their permitted flights, which are designed to allow countries to collect and verify information about each other’s military forces, soon as well.

A Russian observation plane flew over the United Kingdom August 8 and over Germany the following week. Although Russia’s two August flights marked the first official ones under the accord, treaty signatories started conducting trial flights in 1993, a year after the treaty was signed. For example, the United States conducted 77 total joint flights before the treaty entered into force.

Currently, 26 countries, including former members of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact and all 19 NATO members, are states-parties to the Open Skies Treaty and can take advantage of the accord’s provisions to conduct short-notice, unarmed flights over the entire territory of any other treaty member. Each member is assigned a specific number of flights that it must allow over its territory annually.

The planes used to conduct the flights must be certified under the treaty and can eventually be equipped with up to four different types of sensors. Initially, however, planes will only be outfitted with cameras. The sensors are supposed to be sensitive enough to let the observing country distinguish between a tank and a truck on the ground.

The United States had its treaty aircraft certified May 15 and before December is planning to fly three missions over Russia, the first of which is expected this September. France, Italy, and the United Kingdom are also planning to conduct flyovers of Russia and Belarus before the end of this year.

Since the treaty entered into force, members have agreed to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden to accede to the treaty. Each will become a state-party 60 days after depositing its instruments of ratification with either Canada or Hungary, the treaty depositaries. Turkey is currently blocking Cyprus’ effort to join the accord.

U.S. Submits Weapons-Trade Data to UN

At the end of May, the United States reported to the United Nations that U.S. arms exports last year totaled 2,879 weapons to 23 countries, including Taiwan. This sum ranks as the largest volume of U.S. arms exports for a year since the 1997 total of 4,759 weapons.

Each year, the United States volunteers the arms export report to the UN Register of Conventional Arms, which was established in 1992. Created to make global arms sales more public, the register calls on countries to voluntarily submit annual reports on their trade in seven categories of conventional weapons: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers.

The United States defines an export as the transfer of a weapon’s ownership title to the buyer. Other countries may use different criteria, such as the time at which a sold weapon actually leaves their territory.

U.S. arms exports in 2001 would have been low compared with those reported in previous years if not for the export of 1,902 M-26 rockets and 41 other missile systems to Israel, which accounted for two-thirds of the U.S. total.

The next top importers of U.S. weaponry in 2001 were Taiwan, Spain, and Brazil. Washington reported exporting 269 weapons, most of which were ship-launched missiles, to Taiwan. Spain acquired 114 missiles, almost all of which were for arming ships; and Brazil received 91 tanks, seven warships, and two airplanes for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare.

Because of Israel’s rocket buys, most U.S. arms exports last year went to countries in the Near East. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Jordan together took receipt of 106 U.S. weapons, which totals 2,049 weapons for the region when added to Israel’s purchase. Seven countries in Asia and the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand, accounted for 377 of the U.S. export total, making that region a very distant second to the Near East. European countries, which cumulatively were the top importers of U.S. arms for the previous three years, took ownership of only 246 U.S. weapons last year.
For its part, the United States reported importing only a single missile from Norway.

U.S. Seeks Threat Reduction Funding From Allies

The Bush administration is pressing key allies to increase substantially their financial contributions to efforts to secure and downsize Russia’s vulnerable weapons of mass destruction complex.
Under what Washington terms the “10 Plus 10 Over 10” plan, the administration is seeking a total of $10 billion over 10 years from the other leading industrialized nations that, together with the United States, comprise the Group of Seven (G-7). Over those 10 years, the United States would also contribute $10 billion, roughly its current funding level for threat reduction programs.

President George W. Bush mentioned the initiative during a May 23 press briefing with German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, saying Russia would require extra funds to secure the warheads it removes from service under the new U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. (See U.S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces.)

The United States has long sought increased financial contributions for threat reduction programs from its allies. In particular, Washington has looked to the G-7 nations to provide the bulk of the funding for Russia’s effort to implement the 2000 U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition agreement, under which the two countries each agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-origin plutonium.

So far, the United States’ G-7 partners have only pledged limited funds for the plutonium disposition initiative. The countries appear concerned about the size of the needed contribution and about the project’s political ramifications. For example, the German government has longstanding concerns about the proliferation threat posed by using plutonium for power generation, which is planned under the initiative. It is also wary of supporting nuclear power generation in another country while it is phasing out civil nuclear power at home.

Reports indicate that Washington is hoping for a joint statement on the proposal at the Group of Eight (G-7 plus Russia) summit planned for late June in the Kananaskis region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The plan has reportedly received a mixed reception, with some states expressing reluctance because of the size of the financial commitment involved and because of concerns over the threat reduction programs’ ability to absorb substantial funding increases.

Bush Urges Senate Approval of IAEA Protocol

On May 9, President George W. Bush transmitted to the Senate for its approval the “additional protocol” to the U.S.-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safeguards agreement. It is the first time since taking office that the administration has forwarded an arms control treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent.

In his message to the Senate, Bush urged “early and favorable consideration” of the agreement. He emphasized that “universal adoption” of the protocol is “a central goal” of his nuclear nonproliferation policy. The United States signed the protocol in 1998.

The IAEA drafted the protocol to strengthen its ability to detect covert nuclear weapons programs after it was unable to discover clandestine programs in Iraq and North Korea in the early 1990s. The protocol expands the IAEA’s legal authority beyond the original safeguards agreements the agency has with its member states. Those agreements, which aimed to allow the IAEA to verify that the products of civil nuclear programs were not being diverted to weapons programs, restrict the agency to inspecting and monitoring only declared nuclear sites.

Under the new protocol, the IAEA is allowed to conduct short- or no-notice inspections and employ new environmental-sampling and satellite-monitoring techniques at any suspect site. The protocol also requires states to provide the IAEA with additional information about aspects of their civilian nuclear programs, such as fuel-cycle activity and nuclear-related exports.

However, as one of the five states allowed to retain nuclear weapons under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States is not required to give the IAEA access to any facility it deems “of national security significance.” In effect, U.S. ratification of the protocol primarily serves to set a good example for those states that have yet to sign or ratify, according to a Senate staffer familiar with the agreement.

It is not clear when the Senate might take up the protocol since the White House has yet to submit a draft of the legislation detailing how it plans to implement the protocol. The staffer said it was possible that the Foreign Relations Committee would consider the protocol before the end of the year.
In March, China notified the IAEA that it had completed ratification of its protocol, becoming the only NPT nuclear-weapon state whose agreement has entered into force.

Iran Conducts Fourth Shahab-3 Test

Iran successfully completed its fourth test of the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile in mid-May, Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said May 26, according to an Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) report.

With a range of 1,300 kilometers when equipped with a 700-kilogram payload, the liquid-fueled, road-mobile Shahab-3 can potentially target all of Israel with weapons of mass destruction. The missile is largely derived from the North Korean Nodong-1 and was built with significant technological assistance from Russia, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. (Russia’s nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran was a focal point of the recent U.S.-Russian presidential summit. See p. 27.)

Of Iran’s three previous Shahab-3 tests, only the second, conducted in July 2000, is believed to have been a success. (See ACT, September 2000.) Despite the previous failures, a December 2001 U.S. intelligence estimate characterized the missile as “in the late stages of development.”

The May 26 IRNA report quoted Shamkhani announcing that Iran will continue its missile program “in order to promote the power and precision of the Shahab-3 missile.” He said that the tests were carried out “to upgrade the missile and are not regarded as a new production or step toward increasing its range.”

Shamkhani added that despite the test’s success, Iran “is not intending to build new missiles under the names of Shahab-4 or Shahab-5, as claimed by the Americans.” However, Shamkhani has previously called for development of a Shahab-4 with space-launch potential and has mentioned plans for a longer-range Shahab-5 missile.

On May 16, a State Department spokesman said that the administration continues to have “serious concerns” about the Iranian missile program. The spokesman emphasized that the United States views “Iran’s efforts to further develop its missile capabilities, including flight testing of missiles, as a threat to the region and to U.S. interests” and said that Washington will “continue to actively pursue extensive efforts to stop the proliferation of missile technology and equipment to Iran.”

Stage Set for Missile Defense Funding Feud

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees set the stage in May for a possible clash on missile defense funding later this year between the Republican-controlled House and the Senate, with its slim Democratic majority.

On May 1, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the fiscal year 2003 defense authorization act, providing a $21 million increase in missile defense spending above the Pentagon’s requested $7.8 billion. Its Senate counterpart, however, voted May 10 to cut $812 million from the administration’s missile defense request, reallocating $690 million of the slashed funds to shipbuilding for the Navy.

On May 10, the full House easily passed its Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense authorization act with the $21 million boost in missile defense spending intact. The Senate has yet to act on its committee’s recommended bill but is expected to vote in June. Once the Senate finalizes a version of the bill, the House and Senate will need to iron out any differences between their two drafts and then send a compromise version to the president.

Testifying May 21 before the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said he opposed the proposed $812 million cut, which he described as “harmful,” and called upon the full Senate to restore the funding. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) assured Rumsfeld that he and other Senate Republicans would work to do just that when the bill comes to the Senate floor for debate.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - About ACA