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former IAEA Director-General

European Security

NATO Strikes Against Yugoslavia Cloud U.S.-Russian Arms Control

 Craig Cerniello

DRAMATICALLY underscoring Russian anger at NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov turned his plane around over the Atlantic and canceled a March 23–25 visit with Vice President Al Gore in Washington to discuss a broad range of issues, including arms control. Yet the degree to which the air strikes, which began March 24, will impede U.S.-Russian progress on arms control remains unclear, as setbacks on START II and "Y2K" cooperation were balanced by progress on the highly enriched uranium (HEU) purchase agreement and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (See CFE story.)

START II Delayed—Again

Primakov, recognizing that the NATO air strikes had poisoned the political climate for START II ratification, asked the Duma on March 26 to postpone its consideration of the treaty. The next day, the Duma overwhelmingly adopted a 16-point resolution condemning NATO's military action and recommending that the Russian government "temporarily revoke" the draft START II resolution of ratification submitted by President Boris Yeltsin only days earlier.

On March 16, the START II ratification process—sidetracked by the U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq in December (see ACT, November/December 1998)—had resumed when the Duma forwarded to Yeltsin the resolution of ratification produced by International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin and Defense Committee Chairman Roman Popkovich. Under Russian legislative procedures, only the president can submit ratification bills to the Duma.

Also on March 16, Primakov warned on national television that if Russia failed to ratify START II, the United States would withdraw from the ABM Treaty, creating the possibility of a new arms race.

On March 17, the Duma almost unanimously approved the first "reading" (an initial step in the legislative process) of a separate bill guaranteeing funding for Russia's strategic nuclear forces through 2010. Popkovich had argued that resolving such financial issues was necessary for ratification of START II. Two days after the vote, the Duma announced that it would debate START II ratification on April 2.

Yeltsin submitted the Lukin-Popkovich bill to the Duma on March 22, clearing the way for its approval. When NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia began on March 24, however, momentum for START II ground to a halt.

Despite their opposition to the NATO action, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev defended START II during the special March 27 Duma session on the Balkan crisis. During his sixth annual address to the nation on March 30, Yeltsin also expressed Russia's continuing support for the START process.

Y2K Cooperation on Hold

On March 26, an official from the Russian Ministry of Defense told Interfax that in response to the NATO air strikes, it would cease cooperation with the U.S. Defense Department on the so-called "Y2K" problem, whereby computers mistakenly interpret the digits "00" as 1900 instead of 2000. Malfunctions caused by this problem could have serious consequences in areas such as early warning.

During a February 18-19 meeting of the Defense Consultative Group—a regular forum for discussions between the Defense Department and Ministry of Defense—the United States had proposed creating a temporary joint early-warning center in Colorado Springs to help monitor foreign ballistic missile launches during the transition to the new millennium (roughly mid-December 1999 through mid-January 2000). The United States also offered to work with Russia about management techniques and key technologies that could be used to combat Y2K-related problems.

The United States and Russia have already agreed to create a permanent joint early-warning center on Russian territory. The center is part of an agreement made at the Moscow Summit in September 1998 for the two nations to share, on a continuous and real-time basis, early-warning information on the worldwide launches of ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles. (See ACT, August/September 1998.) Because of the complexity of the negotiations over implementation of the summit agreement, however, this permanent center will not be completed in time to deal with the Y2K problem.

Prior to the NATO air strikes, Russia had responded positively to the U.S. proposal for a temporary joint early-warning center. A Defense Department spokeswoman stated that despite the March 26 Ministry of Defense statement, the department has not received any official communication from Russia regarding cancellation of Y2K cooperation and is still making preparations for the Colorado Springs facility.

Nuclear Redeployment Rejected

As a gesture of defiance toward the NATO air strikes, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a resolution on March 24 calling upon the government to abandon its non-nuclear status. (Ukraine returned the last of its strategic warheads to Russia in 1996.) Just two days later, however, President Leonid Kuchma said Ukraine would not reconsider the nuclear option. These developments came about one month after Ukraine destroyed the last of its 130 SS-19 ICBMs in accordance with START I.

In Belarus, which likewise transferred its last strategic warheads to Russia in 1996, speculation about the restationing of nuclear weapons has persisted for quite some time, especially in connection with NATO enlargement. Responding to these latest rumors, President Alexander Lukashenko said on March 25 that "Minsk has not asked for the return of nuclear weapons" and no state will be allowed "to wave Belarus at the West like a big stick."

Progress on HEU Implementation

Though the cancellation of Primakov's U.S. visit forced the postponement of the formal session of the Gore-Primakov Commission, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov did co-chair a meeting of the commission's newly established Nuclear Policy Committee.

On March 24, Richardson and Adamov signed an agreement facilitating implementation of the 1993 HEU accord, under which the United States is to purchase, over a 20-year period, Russian low-enriched uranium (LEU) that has been blended down from 500 metric tons of HEU removed from dismantled nuclear weapons. Russia had threatened to terminate the purchase agreement because it believed that it was not being fairly compensated for the natural uranium component of the LEU deliveries, worth approximately one-third of the $12 billion deal. (See ACT, August/September 1998.)

The new agreement, which calls for the United States to buy the natural uranium from the 1997–1998 Russian LEU shipments, was made possible by the simultaneous completion of a commercial contract between Russia and three Western companies (Cameco, Cogema and Nukem) for the future purchase of the Russian natural uranium.

Posted: December 31, 1969

CFE Parties Outline Adapted Treaty; Limits to Allow NATO Growth

Wade Boese

DESPITE MOSCOW'S anger at NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia, as well as continued opposition to NATO expansion, Russia joined the United States and the 28 other states-parties to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on March 30 in signing a preliminary agreement for adapting the Cold War-era treaty to the current security environment. The agreement is not legally binding, but will guide negotiations within the Vienna-based Joint Consultative Group (JCG)—the treaty's implementing body—for replacing the treaty's bloc-to-bloc structure with a system of national and territorial limits.

Though both Moscow and Washington welcomed the agreement, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement cautioned that the "decision does not cover the entire spectrum of problems of adaptation." Russia, which has sought through CFE adaptation to blunt some of the ill effects of NATO expansion, had demanded that talks conclude before the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland formally joined NATO (which occurred March 12). The adaptation negotiations, on-going since January 1997, are now expected to be wrapped up by November.

Signed in 1990, the CFE Treaty capped the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters—referred to as treaty-limited equipment (TLE)—that NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact could deploy between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. To prevent conventional force buildups in the center of Europe, the treaty employed a concentric zone structure that permitted larger TLE deployments the farther one moved away from the fault line between the two alliances.

Under an adapted treaty, there will be 30 separate national limits, each covering all five TLE categories, rather than two balanced bloc limits. Each country will also have a territorial ceiling capping the total amount of ground TLE, both national and foreign, allowed within its borders. For countries in the flank zone—created to limit the amount of ground TLE in the northern and southern flanks of Europe—territorial ceilings will be set equal to national ceilings. Therefore, if any flank country wants foreign forces on its territory, its actual TLE holdings must be lower than its national limits by at least an amount equivalant to the foreign TLE. A Russian proposal for territorial ceilings on combat aircraft and attack helicopters failed, as NATO argued that such equipment is too mobile to be verified on a territorial basis.

As part of the March 30 accord, all CFE parties agreed to prospective national limits except Azerbaijan, which claimed it was unable to declare such limits at this time. The sum of the proposed national limits for NATO's 19 members is lower than the their current entitlements (roughly 80,000 compared to 89,026) but much higher than their actual holdings of 64,091. Therefore, NATO will not have to remove or destroy TLE to meet the projected limits.

The United States proposed a TLE limit of 7,590, far below its current entitlement of 13,088 but more than twice its actual TLE holdings of 3,465. Germany undertook the second-largest NATO reduction in TLE (963), while Canada, Greece, Norway, Portugal and Turkey offered no TLE cuts. For its part, Russia proposed a reduction of 385 TLE from its current entitlement of 28,601.

States-parties agreed that territorial ceilings may be exceeded for notified military exercises and peacekeeping missions sanctioned by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. These "basic temporary deployments" cannot exceed 153 tanks, 241 ACVs and 140 artillery pieces in any one country.

Countries outside the treaty's flank zone will in times of crisis be permitted "exceptional temporary deployments" of up to 459 tanks, 723 ACVs and 420 artillery pieces above territorial ceilings. In the event of any temporary deployments larger than the "basic" level, a conference of states-parties will be convened within seven days for the host and stationing countries to explain the deployment. Simultaneous exceptional temporary deployments will be permitted.

Russia, eager to limit the NATO presence in new alliance members, had opposed exceptional temporary deployments, but pledges by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to lower TLE ceilings eased some of Moscow's concerns. By the end of 2003, the territorial ceilings for the three new NATO members (covering both national and foreign equipment) would be smaller than their current national entitlements. In a reciprocal move, Russia pledged not to increase TLE holdings in its northern flank and in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Since CFE's entry into force in 1992, Russia has pressed for larger TLE limits in—or abolition of—the flank zone, where Moscow claims serious security concerns, particularly after the war in Chechnya. According to the March 30th agreement, however, the flank zone will be retained in an adapted treaty.

Though none of the 12 flank countries will be allowed to increase its overall TLE flank limit, Moscow did secure an increase in an ACV sub-limit. In accordance with a May 1996 agreement that will enter into force this May, Russia's ACV total for the original flank zone was set at 3,700, of which 1,380 could be located in a "reduced flank zone." Under the March 30 agreement, that smaller limit is proposed to grow to 2,140. In return, Russia cannot temporarily deploy any ACVs in the reduced flank zone and must reduce Russian TLE stationed in Georgia, as well as withdraw Russian TLE from Moldova.

The agreement emphasizes the need for host country consent for stationing of any foreign TLE. Nevertheless, to guard against unwanted foreign TLE stationing, Moldova renounced its right to temporary deployments.

The CFE Treaty currently limits the amount of TLE that can be deployed in active units, with the remainder confined to Designated Permanent Storage Sites. (Both active and stored TLE count against overall limits.) Under the adaptation agreement, states may shift TLE from storage sites to active units but must eliminate four pieces of TLE for every one moved to active units.

To keep track of all the above activity, the parties agreed to adopt an "enhanced regime of verification and information exchange." Under an adapted treaty, the number of annual inspections that a country must permit on its territory will rise from 15 to 20 percent of its Objects of Verifications—military units and other sites with TLE. The parties will also negotiate specific transparency and verification measures for temporary deployments.

Negotiators at the JCG will return to work on April 12. Outstanding issues include clearing up a discrepancy of approximately 2,100 TLE between the total amount of equipment that the eight successor states to the Soviet Union committed to eliminate and the amount that the Soviet Union would have had to eliminate based on Soviet data at the signature of the treaty. Much of the unclaimed TLE is thought to be derelict or not under government control.

Posted: December 31, 1969

Cyprus Forgoes Russian Missile Deployment

Despite opposition within his own government, Greek Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides announced on December 29 that Cyprus would not take delivery of a January 1997 order of Russian S-300 ground-to-air missiles. The anti-aircraft missiles were a source of tension for Greece and Turkey as well as Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 into autonomous and mutually hostile Greek and Turkish communities.

Turkey had claimed that the missiles threatened its aircraft and the Turkish mainland and had warned that all means, including military force, would be used to stop deployment of the S-300s. The Greek Cypriots, who have a 1993 defense commitment from Athens—an original backer and long-time defender of the missile purchase—remained steadfast in deploying the missiles up until Clerides' announcement. The reversal of course came amid growing talk among European capitals, including Berlin, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) for the first six months of 1999, that the missile issue could jeopardize EU membership for Cyprus. (The EU announced in December 1997 that Cyprus would be one of six states to begin accession talks.)

The United States, which had criticized the S-300 purchase as a mistake while also condemning Turkey for its threats of force, welcomed the decision, as did the EU. However, the Cyprus Socialist Party EDEK, including the Cypriot defense minister, decided to withdraw from the government on January 2 over Clerides' announcement. Cyprus may now seek shorter-range missiles as an alternative and plans to negotiate with Russia for delivery of the S-300s to the Greek island of Crete.

Posted: December 31, 1969

Additional States to Follow EU 'Code of Conduct'

In an August 3 statement, the European Union (EU) welcomed the joint declaration by 13 European states to "align themselves to the criteria and principles" of the recently approved (June 8) EU code of conduct on arms exports. Under the code's eight general criteria, EU members pledged to deny arms exports to states that may use the weapons for internal repression or aggressively against other states and to consider an importer's human rights record before approving an arms sale.

Of the 13 non-EU states (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia), all but Iceland and Norway have applied for EU membership; the declaration enables these states to align their arms export policies with those of the EU. Four of the 13, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), ranked among the top thirty arms suppliers for the period 1993–1997: the Czech Republic (13th), Norway (21st), Poland (22nd) and Slovakia (24th).

The 13 states declared that the non-legally binding code would "guide them in their national export control policies." However, they will not take part in the key operative provisions of the code, such as circulating notices of arms export denials and consulting with other states over controversial sales. EU countries want the notification process to remain limited to protect sensitive information.

Posted: December 31, 1969

Small Arms and Light Weapons: Controlling the Real Instruments of War

One of the dominant features of the global community in the 1990s has been the violent breakdown of civil society in dozens of countries throughout the world. From the socialist states of the former Soviet bloc to Africa and Asia, we have witnessed the outbreak of ethnic, religious, racial, linguistic and other forms of communal strife and the melting away of social norms and government structures that would otherwise contain the violence. Adding to the disorder, in many instances, has been a significant upsurge in armed banditry and criminal violence.

The importance of this "failed state syndrome" during this decade can hardly be overstated. The very nature of conflict has been transformed—from traditional combat between nation-states to inter-communal conflict within states. Such strife typically involves a wide variety of actors, including governments, rebel movements, armed political militias, ethnic and religious groups, tribes and clans, expatriate and diaspora groups, criminal gangs and mercenaries. Common distinguishing characteristics of this type of intra-state conflict include multiple warring parties, blurred lines of conflict, greater involvement of civilians, and the fact that the conflict itself is not fought on traditional battlegrounds but in local communities; indeed, within society itself. Also characteristic of these conflicts is the presence among the warring parties of irregular and paramilitary forces with little or no formal military training and few compunctions about violating the rules of war. All too often, it is children and teenagers who are recruited or forced into these organizations and then made to kill, loot and rampage.

Another defining characteristic of such conflict is the fact that widespread death and suffering result not from the major conventional weapons traditionally associated with war—tanks, aircraft and warships, for example—but from small arms and light weapons. The global proliferation of assault rifles, machine guns, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and other "man-portable" weapons has increased both the frequency and intensity of modern conflict and greatly complicated the task of restoring peace. Such weapons are readily obtainable on international markets, both legal and illicit, and are easily mastered by untrained and unprofessional soldiers, even children. Of the 49 major conflicts that have broken out since 1990, light weapons were the only arms used in 46; only one conflict (the 1991 Gulf War) was dominated by heavy weapons.< 1 >

Since 1990, these conflicts have resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million people and have produced 20 million refugees and 24 million displaced persons.< 2 > The resources of the international community are being overwhelmed by bitter conflicts, large-scale refugee movements and even genocide. In response to these disasters, the international community has spent tens of billions of dollars on emergency relief, refugee care and resettlement, peacekeeping, and direct military intervention. For the United Nations alone, the annual cost of humanitarian assistance and relief for war victims has increased ten-fold, from about $300 million a year in the 1980s to $3 billion a year in the mid-1990s.

In recent years, attention has come to focus on the ways in which the increased availability of low-cost small arms and light weapons contributes to the likelihood, intensity and duration of armed conflict. Although these conflicts often possess deep and complex roots, it is evident that the widespread availability of modern light weapons has emboldened belligerents to pursue their objectives on the battlefield, rather than at the bargaining table.

An analysis of contemporary warfare also reveals that such conflict overwhelmingly takes place in the world's poorest countries. In the 1990s, 30 of the 60 least-developed countries in the world have experienced conflict directly, while another 12 have had to support large refugee populations from neighboring countries in conflict.< 3 > This correlation between conflict and poverty helps explain why these conflicts are generally fought with relatively inexpensive small arms and light weapons. It also explains why the victims of these conflicts are so dependent on assistance from the international community.

 

Advantages of Light Weapons

In recent conflicts, more people have been killed by small arms and light weapons than by major weapons systems. The distinguishing features of these weapons that make them so suitable to contemporary intra-state conflicts include:

Low Cost and Wide Availability. Because the production of small arms and light weapons requires little in the way of sophisticated technology, and because these weapons are manufactured for military, police and civilian use, there are plentiful suppliers around the world. In addition, the existence of many tens of millions of such weapons—whether newly produced, given away by downsizing militaries or recycled from conflict to conflict—leads to bargain-basement prices in many areas around the world.

Lethality. The increasing sophistication and lethality of rapid-fire assault rifles, automatic pistols and submachine guns and their diffusion to non-state actors has given such groups a firepower that often matches or exceeds that of national police or constabulary forces. With such weapons capable of firing up to 300 rounds a minute, a single individual can pose a tremendous threat to society. The incorporation of new technology into shoulder-fired rockets, mortars and light anti-tank weapons has only increased the firepower that warring factions bring to bear in civil conflicts.

Simplicity and Durability. Small arms are easy to use and maintain, require little maintenance or logistical support and remain operational for many years. Such weapons require little training to use effectively, which greatly increases their use in conflicts involving untrained combatants and children.

Portability and Concealability. Small arms and light weapons can be carried by an individual soldier or light vehicle, are easily transported or smuggled to areas of conflict, and can be concealed in shipments of legitimate cargo.

Military, Police and Civilian Uses. Unlike major conventional weapons, which are most often procured solely by national military forces, small arms and light weapons cross the dividing line separating military and police forces from the civilian population. Depending on the gun control laws of a particular country, citizens are permitted to own anything from pistols and sporting guns to fully automatic rifles. In many countries, moreover, there has been a dramatic increase in the number and size of private militias and security firms which, in many cases, are equipped with military-type weapons.

All of these characteristics of light weapons have made them particularly attractive to the sort of paramilitary and irregular forces that have played such a prominent role in recent conflicts. These forces have limited financial and technical means, lack professional military training, and often must operate in remote and inaccessible areas—all conditions that favor the use of small arms and light weapons. At the same time, many states have increased their purchases of these weapons for use in counterinsurgency campaigns against ethnic and political groups and to suppress domestic opposition movements.

 

A Global Diffusion of Small Arms

For many years, the global trade in major conventional weapons has been well documented. By comparison, the global trade in small arms and light weapons has proved much more difficult to track. Few national governments publish statistics on the sale or transfer of light weapons or release information about the sales activities of private companies. Moreover, much of the trade—perhaps 25 percent—is carried on through illicit and black-market channels of one sort or another.< 4 >

In the absence of uniform statistics on the trade in light weapons, researchers must rely on anecdotal information and what little fragmentary data is available from government and trade sources. Fairly reliable estimates of the global trade in such weapons range from $5 billion to $7 billion a year, with some estimates running as high as $10 billion a year.< 5 > And while official statistics indicate that the trade in major weapons systems has fallen sharply with the end of the Cold War, many analysts believe that global transfers of light weapons have increased during this period.

The global spread of small arms and light weapons has been facilitated by the emergence in many states, including a dozen or more developing countries, of a domestic capacity for the manufacture of such weapons. Whereas the fabrication of major weapons systems is highly concentrated, with only a dozen or so states capable of producing modern tanks, planes and warships, some 50 nations now manufacture light weapons and/or ammunition of various types. The production of modern assault rifles, for example, occurs in many of the industrialized nations as well as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. Many of these countries produce arms for export as well as domestic use, greatly adding to the number of sources from which a potential belligerent can obtain weapons of war.

The large number of production sites contributes not only to the expansion of national arsenals, but to the spread of arms within societies via theft, bribery and corruption. The multiplicity of trade channels leads to the diffusion of light weapons within societies—extending not only to governments and state-owned entities but also to private armies and militias, insurgent groups, criminal organizations and other non-state actors. Accordingly, any analysis of the trade in light weapons must take into account both the sharp increase in the number of producers and suppliers and how their weapons are being transferred to an ever-expanding array of states and non-state actors in every region of the world.

The following list of legal, illegal and covert methods by which small arms and light weapons are sold, transferred and exchanged underscores the complexity of the problem:

  • Grants or gifts by governments to allied governments abroad;
  • Sales by governments to client governments abroad;
  • Commercial sales by private firms to governments and private dealers in other countries;
  • Technology transfers associated with domestic arms production in the developing nations;
  • Covert transfers by governments to friendly insurgent and separatist groups in other countries;
  • Gifts by governments to armed militias and paramilitary organizations linked to the ruling party or the dominant ethnic group;
  • Black-market sales to the governments of "pariah" countries and to insurgent and separatist forces;
  • Theft of government and privately owned arms by insurgent, criminal and separatist forces; and
  • Exchanges between insurgent and criminal organizations, whether for profit or in pursuit of common political objectives.
  • Although it is impossible to discuss each of these methods in detail, it is useful to look briefly at the major channels.

    Legal Channels. Currently, there are over 300 manufacturers of light weapons and related equipment in 50 countries around the world, a 25 percent increase in the last decade alone.< 6 > Until the end of World War II, the major producers of these weapons were the industrialized nations. In recent decades, however, these established producers have been joined by China, Israel, South Africa and many developing countries. Estimates of some common models produced by these countries in the past few decades show the enormity of the problem: 5 million to 7 million Belgian FAL assault rifles produced in 15 countries; 35 million to 50 million Soviet/Russian AK assault rifles manufactured by Soviet/Russian factories and licensees; 7 million German Heckler & Koch G3 assault rifles made in 18 countries; 8 million U.S. M-16 rifles produced in seven countries; and 6 million Chinese-made AK-type assault rifles.< 7 >

    These numbers, as alarming as they are, do not include the millions of surplus arms that have been sold or given away as the world's major military powers have reduced their forces and/or found themselves with excess production capacity following the end of the Cold War. Because small arms and light weapons have few moving parts and are extremely durable, even weapons that are 10- to 20-years old are often fully operational and as effective as newly produced weapons. Accordingly, countries such as the United States, Russia and Germany (especially with the dismantling of the East German army) have been able to sell or transfer millions of light weapons to their allies and clients abroad.

    Covert and 'Gray-Market' Channels. In addition to legal sales and military assistance programs, small arms and light weapons are disseminated through covert and "gray-market" channels (that is, channels that operate with government support even though in violation of official government policy), most often by government intelligence agencies or private companies linked to such agencies. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the CIA helped to supply some 3 million AK-47 assault rifles (mainly Chinese and Egyptian models) to rebel mujahideen; thousands of these weapons have since turned up in fighting in Kashmir and elsewhere in South Asia, and as far away as Southeast Asia and the Middle East. In addition, the United States and the Soviet Union supplied arms to rebel groups in Central America and sent massive amounts of weapons to various factions in Angola and Mozambique.

    Since the end of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow have discontinued many of these activities. But it is widely believed that military commanders and managers of military factories in Russia and some of the other newly independent states of the former Soviet Union have engaged in large-scale covert sales of weapons to clients in neighboring states and beyond. Government officials in other states have also been accused of smuggling arms to allied groups in other countries, whether for profit or to advance particular political or religious objectives. Officials in Zaire, for instance, reportedly bought large quantities of weapons on the international market and sold them to UNITA forces in Angola for profits running into the hundreds of millions of dollars—most of which is believed to have wound up in the overseas bank accounts of former President Mobutu Seso Seko and his associates.

    Another form of gray-market transfers entails the delivery of weapons from government stockpiles to political entities and ethnic militias associated with the ruling clan or party. Prior to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, for example, the Hutu-dominated government distributed small arms and machetes to government-linked militias. Once the killing began, the Rwandan military sought to crush any organized Tutsi resistance while the militias slaughtered unarmed Tutsis and moderate Hutus. A similar pattern was evident in Haiti in the early 1990s, when the ruling military junta organized and armed the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) to suppress popular support for ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    Illicit and Black-Market Channels. The third major category of light weapons transfers includes illegal sales through black-market channels, the supply of arms in defiance of international embargoes and other legal sanctions, and the theft of arms from government stocks or private citizens. In recent years, there has been a striking growth in the operations of black-market dealers to satisfy the needs of non-state actors in ethnic and internal conflicts. Because such actors are normally barred from purchases on the legal munitions market, they must acquire their weaponry from illicit sources. The growing number of UN arms embargoes has also produced an increased demand for black-market arms. Although it is impossible to estimate the value or scale of all such transactions, some estimates place 1993 black market sales to the belligerents in Bosnia alone at $2 billion or more.< 8 >

    The black-market trade has been facilitated by the existence of vast stockpiles of surplus arms in the states of the former Soviet bloc—arms which in many cases are guarded by near-destitute soldiers and officers who are all too eager to conspire in their theft by black-market dealers or to enter the illicit trade themselves. Moreover, there are strong linkages between the illegal narcotics trade and black-market arms trafficking. These underground networks have developed sophisticated methods for the procurement, transportation and sale of small arms and light weapons, at times with the connivance of governments or corrupt public officials.

    Finally, theft of weapons from military and police warehouses is a major problem in countries afflicted by civil war or insurgent violence. As civil strife spread across Albania in the spring of 1997, thousands of weapons were looted from military depots by insurgents, criminals and civilians. These weapons not only increased the levels of armed violence in Albania, but reportedly were also being smuggled across the border into the Serbian province of Kosovo, where 2 million ethnic Albanians pose an irredentist challenge to Serbian authority. In South Africa and Colombia, stolen weapons contribute to a culture of violence and criminality that undermines the stability of the state and the cohesion of society.

     

    The Need for Policy Initiatives

    Clearly, the unchecked flow of small arms and light weapons to areas of conflict represents a significant threat to world peace and security. While it cannot be said that such weapons are a primary cause of conflict, their worldwide availability, low cost and ease of operation make it relatively easy for potential belligerents of all kinds to initiate and sustain deadly conflict. Accordingly, policy-makers have begun to highlight the need for new international controls in this area. In a January 1998 message to the UN Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "With regard to conventional weapons, there is a growing awareness among member-states of the urgent need to adopt measures to reduce the transfer of small arms and light weapons. It is now incumbent on all of us to translate this shared awareness into decisive action."

    Interest in the trade in light weapons has also been spurred by a growing number of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), many of which played a key role in the international campaign to ban landmines. Along with UN officials and leaders of interested governments, these groups have led the search for new policy prescriptions.

     

    International Efforts

    In line with the increased attention being focused by the international community on the dangers posed by small arms and light weapons, the United Nations has been engaged in a wide variety of activities to both publicize the problem and initiate steps toward policy controls. The two major efforts undertaken so far by the United Nations are the study conducted by the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms in 1996 and 1997, which analyzed the types of weapons used in contemporary conflicts and the nature and causes of their excessive accumulation,< 9 > and the parallel study of member-states' firearm regulations conducted by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in the same two-year period.< 10 >

    Operationally, the United Nations has sought to monitor the effectiveness of various international embargoes on the transfer of weaponry into areas of conflict. In 1996, a UN International Commission of Inquiry on Rwanda investigated the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Rwanda, paying particular attention to specific allegations of embargo violations. In their report, members of the commission noted that "[we] could not fail to note the absence of an effective, proactive mechanism to monitor or implement the arms embargo the Security Council had imposed on Rwanda."< 11 > Elsewhere in Africa, the United Nations has supported Mali's path-breaking efforts to collect and destroy firearms internally and to promote a regional moratorium on the trade in small arms and light weapons.

    Other international organizations are also becoming involved in the light weapons issue, particularly as it relates to issues of economic and human development. The World Bank is devoting resources to issues of post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in regard to the demobilization of combatants and their reintegration into civil society. Also, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), through its task force on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation, is putting greater emphasis on the need for "timely prevention measures" (such as limiting arms flows in areas of potential conflict) in order to forestall armed violence.

     

    Regional Efforts

    Particularly in Africa and the Americas, national governments and regional organizations are devising a variety of measures to better regulate the legal trade in light weapons and to combat illicit weapons trafficking. In November 1997, the Organization of American States (OAS) signed a convention on the illicit weapons trade that calls for standardization of national firearms regulations and increased law enforcement and customs cooperation to prevent illicit weapons flows within the Western Hemisphere. The OAS has also developed model regulations that focus on the linkages between the narcotics trade and weapons smuggling. Within the Caribbean sub-region, moreover, Jamaica has proposed that similar efforts be undertaken by the 14-member Caribbean Community.

    Elsewhere, West African governments are working with the United Nations to assess the regional implications of light weapons diffusion and to craft a regional moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of such arms. In Central Africa, the United Nations has established a trust fund with which to remove small arms and light weapons from the region. Similarly, the Southern Africa Development Community has recommended the establishment of a regional database on stolen firearms and the implementation of multilateral police operations to recover such weapons.

    Among European countries, there are increased pressures for controlling both legal and illegal shipments of weapons, particularly to countries experiencing civil strife and human rights abuses. In June 1997, the European Union (EU) agreed to a Programme for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Conventional Arms. In June 1998, the EU formally adopted a "code of conduct" on arms transfers with the goal of preventing such transfers to areas of conflict and internal repression. While useful steps, both measures will require political will in constraining arms transfers and dedicated resources to help affected countries monitor arms shipments and remove excess weaponry.

     

    National Efforts

    Because so much of the light weapons trade takes place illegally, the role of national governments in tightening and enforcing export regulations will be very important. Under pressure from Mexico, the United States has cracked down on illicit gun trafficking on the U.S.-Mexican border and has agreed to stronger export controls in the context of the OAS convention signed last November. Similar efforts are underway in a number of other states, including Colombia, South Africa and EU states.

    In many communities, municipal authorities and NGOs have begun grass roots campaigns to remove small arms from circulation at the local level, and to pressure their national governments to take the light weapons problem more seriously. In South Africa, such initiatives involve bringing various ethnic and tribal groups together to deal with the "culture of violence" plaguing that country. In countries like Britain and Australia that have experienced horrific massacres carried out by automatic weapons—notably the killings in Dunblane, Scotland, and Port Arthur, Tasmania, national groups have come together to lobby for more restrictive gun control laws. Elsewhere, NGOs and grass roots organizations have put the spotlight on their own governments' responsibility for supplying weapons to areas of conflict and persistent human rights abuse.

     

    What Is to Be Done?

    From all that has been learned about the international trade in small arms and light weapons, it is evident that no single set of policy initiatives will suffice to deal with this problem. Unlike the relative simplicity of the landmines issue—where the international community could focus on one particular weapon (anti-personnel landmines) and seek its elimination as a weapon of war—the effort to control the diffusion of light weapons will demand a host of initiatives, extending from the international arena to regional, national and local levels. National governments especially will have to go beyond their support for cracking down on the illegal trade in light weapons and examine their own role in the current legal weapons trade. The following initiatives represent a rough menu of the sort of steps that will be needed to subject light weapons transfers to greater international scrutiny and to reduce the flow of such munitions to areas of conflict.

    Establish International Norms. The first, and perhaps most important, step is to adopt international norms against the uncontrolled and destabilizing transfer of small arms and light weapons to areas of tension and conflict. Although deference must be made to the traditional right of sovereign states to arm themselves, it must be made clear that this right has natural limits and does not extend to the acquisition of arms for the purpose of engaging in genocide or the suppression of opposition political or religious movements. It must become axiomatic, moreover, that the right to acquire arms for self-defense entails an obligation to maintain such weapons under effective government control at all times and to preclude their diversion to illicit purposes.

    While it may take some time to clarify and win support for such norms, the basic groundwork has been provided by the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms. In its 1997 report, the panel concludes: "The excessive and destabilizing accumulation and transfer of small arms and light weapons is closely related to the increased incidence of internal conflicts and high levels of crime and violence," and is, therefore, "an issue of legitimate concern for the international community."< 12 > With this in mind, the report calls on UN member-states to "exercise restraint" with respect to the transfer of such weapons and to take all necessary steps to prevent the diversion of government arms supplies into illegitimate hands.

    Clearly, much work is needed to strengthen these norms and to promote their acceptance by governments. As in the worldwide campaign against landmines, the media can focus public attention on the dangers posed by such weapons, especially to civilians and children. The issue is admittedly complicated by the fact that, unlike anti-personnel landmines, national governments and military and police forces can demonstrate a far greater legitimate need for light weapons for purposes of self-defense and national security. Nonetheless, the frequency with which such weapons are used against civilians and children points to a humanitarian aspect of small arms that is quite similar to that of landmines.

    International norms could also be developed along the lines of the Geneva Conventions, where states-parties would be prohibited from supplying light weapons to any government, group or entity that does not have the resources to treat its wounded or those of the enemy, or has not trained its own personnel in the laws of war. In addition, public sentiment could be mobilized to support constraints on the inhumane or indiscriminate effects of light weapons, in the same way that blinding laser weapons have been banned by the recently adopted protocol to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

    Increase International Transparency. At present, efforts to monitor and control the diffusion of small arms and light weapons are hampered by a lack of detailed information on the production, sale and transfer of such munitions. Few governments provide detailed data on imports and exports of light weapons, and the UN Conventional Arms Register covers major weapons only. To ensure effective international oversight of the legal trade in light weapons, efforts at increased transparency must be made at the national, regional and international level. National governments should be required to publish detailed annual tallies of weapons imports and exports, while regional arms registers covering light weapons should also be encouraged. Finally, at the international level, the UN arms register should be gradually extended to cover all types of munitions, including small arms and light weapons.

    Enhanced international transparency is also necessary to curb the illicit trade in light weapons. In the absence of an effective transparency regime, it is relatively easy for illicit dealers to conceal their operations; as information on legal trade becomes more widely available, it will become more difficult to do this. Increased transparency will also facilitate joint efforts by law enforcement agencies to identify, track and apprehend black-market dealers.

    Increase State Accountability. In the current international milieu, control over the import and export of small arms and light weapons rests with national governments; thus, efforts to better regulate the trade in such munitions will be most effective at the national level.

    Increased governmental accountability is needed in two key areas: first, the establishment of effective oversight over all military-type firearms found within the national territory, so as to prevent their diversion to criminal elements and black-market dealers; and second, strict controls over the import and export of such weapons, so as to preclude their use for any purpose other than legitimate self-defense as sanctioned by the UN Charter.

    Efforts to accomplish the first of these objectives should be guided by the draft proposals of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Particularly effective measures would include a licensing system for manufacturers and gun owners, more effective identification systems to track firearms, more effective record keeping of firearms, and safe-storage measures. An additional measure called for is the promotion of amnesty and weapons turn-in programs that encourage citizens to surrender illegal, unsafe, unwanted and excess weapons. (An Australian buy-back effort, for example, took in more than 600,000 firearms, Governments around the world should be encouraged to incorporate such measures into their national laws and regulations; those states that fail to do so should be barred from receiving arms from those states that do adopt such legislation.

    Similarly, efforts to better control the import and export of small arms and light weapons should be guided by the recommendations found in the report of the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms. These include the collection and destruction of weapons once conflict has ended; the destruction of surplus weapons no longer needed by a country's military or police forces (as opposed to selling or giving them away); and the exercise of restraint in exporting military and police weapons from one country to another.

    States should also be encouraged to adopt a code of conduct for arms transfers such as those being considered at the regional (EU) and international levels. Such codes would bar the sale or transfer of small arms and light weapons to any state that is ruled by a military dictatorship, that fails to respect the human rights of its citizens, that violates UN arms embargoes, or that cannot ensure the security of the weapons already in its possession.

    Regional and International Efforts. While priority should be given to the development of effective controls at the national level, efforts should also be made to establish systems of oversight and control at the regional and international levels. Action at the regional level is particularly important because light weapons are often circulated by regional networks of illicit dealers, insurgents and permissive government agencies. Moreover, experience suggests that it may be easier to mobilize political support for control systems at the regional level than at the international level.

    At the regional level, policy initiatives could include agreements for the strengthening of import and export regulations, tougher enforcement of laws against illicit trafficking and joint operations against black-market dealers. The OAS effort is one means of fostering increased cooperation between national customs services and law enforcement agencies on a regional basis. Other such efforts could be greatly facilitated by countries like the United States and Japan, which could provide the requisite technologies for computer databases of suspected illicit weapons traffickers. In southern Africa, national governments and intelligence agencies are sharing information and mounting joint operations to uncover and destroy large caches of weapons left over from previous conflicts.

    The Mali moratorium on the manufacture, sale and import of small arms and light weapons is another initiative that can begin to reduce the easy availability of such weapons. As one of the more successful multilateral attempts to control the flow of light weapons both prior to and following periods of civil tension, the Mali initiative might provide a model for other regions. In West Africa, for example, the experiences of Liberia and Sierra Leone demonstrated how even relatively modest numbers of light weapons inflicted horrific casualties on civilians caught in sectarian strife.

    Other regional approaches include the establishment of regional codes of conduct on arms exports similar to that of the EU. Given the particularly troublesome black- market weapons activity in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the OECD or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should consider adopting codes of conduct. Additionally, economic incentive plans could be devised that would facilitate the closure of excess production capacity in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. For example, Western countries could buy surplus small arms and light weapons from these states and destroy them, much as the United States is purchasing excess Russian nuclear weapons material.

    At the international level, emphasis should be placed on the adoption of measures needed to strengthen the implementation of weapons embargoes agreed to by the United Nations and associated bodies. While such embargoes may never be entirely leakproof, evidence has shown that even a modest number of international observers at airfields, seaports and other points of entry for weapons to an area of conflict can make a difference. When supplemented by stricter national export controls, embargoes can make it far more difficult to deliver significant quantities of modern weapons to areas of conflict.

    The major arms-supplying countries should also establish a mechanism (possibly as part of the Wassenaar Arrangement for conventional arms control) for consultation on arms flows to areas of current and potential conflict, along with provisions for the imposition of a moratorium on weapons transfers to any state or region deemed to be at risk of ethnic slaughter, state failure or genocide. International inspectors should be sent to the region to ensure compliance with these measures and to suggest any other actions that might be taken to reduce the flow of arms.

    Reducing Surplus Weapons. Addressing the problem of surplus weaponry generated by decades of Cold War competition is especially important because many states—particularly former Eastern bloc countries—are eager to sell arms for hard currency with few or no questions asked. Because export controls on surplus arms are generally less strict than those for newly manufactured weapons, black-market dealers find it easier to obtain and sell surplus arms than newly made weapons. The problem of surplus arms is especially acute in areas just recovering from armed conflict, where impoverished ex-combatants may try to sell their weapons for cash rather than turn them over to UN peace-keepers or other designated authorities.

    Measures to reduce global stockpiles of surplus munitions—a critical component of any international effort to constrain the flow of light weapons—can take several forms. States that can afford to do so should agree to destroy the surplus arms and ammunition in their possession and to take all the necessary steps to prevent the leakage of weaponry from government depots and warehouses. An early precedent was set by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, which announced in January 1998 that it would destroy most of its surplus small arms, including 115,000 Uzi submachine guns, FAL assault rifles, Garand rifles, Browning pistols and M-1 carbines.

    For their parts, the United States and Russia should agree to cooperate in locating and reclaiming (or buying back) weapons given by them to insurgent groups during the Cold War. In many regions, these weapons are now being used to fuel internal power struggles and criminal violence. Taking these weapons out of circulation would close one of the most deadly chapters of the Cold War and help promote international peace and security in the current era.

    Post-Conflict Measures. A high priority should be placed on efforts to remove the large quantities of small arms and light weapons that often remain in-country once a particular conflict has ended. Too often, the availability of such weapons facilitates either a renewal of the conflict (as in Angola) or a destabilization of efforts to build a peaceful civil society (as in South Africa). The limited success of disarmament programs in countries like El Salvador, where the country suffers from an appalling rate of criminal violence despite the collection of tens of thousands of weapons, points up the complexity and difficulty of such efforts. Above all, decisions to disarm warring factions and remove light weapons from areas of conflict must be implemented uniformly and comprehensively.

    Moreover, in many countries around the world the possession of arms is deeply embedded in society, so that arms collection efforts may prove futile or not be politically feasible. In such cases, and more generally as well, the primary emphasis should be on economic development and social reconstruction so that ex-combatants and non-combatants have viable options in the civilian economy.

    Recent initiatives on the part of the World Bank and a number of development and humanitarian NGOs to better integrate economic assistance programs with demobilization, destruction of weapons and conflict prevention strategies are a useful step in this direction.

    International Capacity-Building. Ultimately, any regime to control global trafficking in small arms and light weapons will only be as effective as the weakest links in the system. As long as black-market dealers enjoy safe havens in which they can operate with impunity, it will be difficult or impossible to enforce tougher international standards on the light weapons trade. It is therefore essential that the stronger participants in the system assist the weaker elements to establish effective and reliable mechanisms for the oversight of the arms market.

    As part of such efforts, technology should be developed and deployed internationally to help track the flow of small arms and light weapons, identify illicit sources of supply, and improve law enforcement and customs prosecution of illegal suppliers and traders. In addition to developing computer databases and communications systems that can facilitate international cooperation on the light weapons trade, several other technical initiatives have been proposed for helping to increase the transparency of light weapons flows. One such initiative being developed by OAS members is more effective marking and registration of weapons, both at the point of manufacture and when such weapons are legally exported. Such marking will make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence officials to trace the supply routes of weapons originally acquired legally which then entered the black market.

    Other proposals exist for the tagging of ammunition and explosives, and studies on their feasibility are being carried out by the Canadian government and the United Nations. While some of these technical solutions may prove difficult and expensive to implement, the international community has at least begun the process of thoroughly evaluating them.

     

    An Imperative to Act

    By the middle of 1998, there was increased international momentum for taking more decisive action to prevent the continuing global diffusion of small arms and light weapons. In addition to ongoing efforts on the part of the United Nations and regional organizations like the OAS, national governments—including Norway, Canada, Belgium, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa and Japan—had signalled their interest in devoting substantial political and economic resources to deal with the problem. In July 1998, the Norwegian government hosted a meeting of 21 countries, including the United States, that issued a call for stronger measures to deal with both the illicit and legal trade in light weapons.

    The Clinton administration has indicated its willingness to be fully involved in international efforts to dampen the light weapons trade. In August, the administration released a list of the comprehensive initiatives the U.S. government is pursuing—through the United Nations, the OAS and at the national level—to support global efforts for combatting the threat posed by unrestrained trade in light weapons.< 13 > Most of these efforts were aimed at the illicit trade in arms, though some focused on legal sales.

    Clearly, the U.S. and other governments, especially those responsible for the majority of light weapons production and supply, need to do more. At the moment, most countries, including the United States, are putting greater emphasis on the illicit light weapons trade. Yet, it is the continued supply of large amounts of small arms and light weapons, through legal channels, to governments and non-state actors, that is most worrisome. All too often, supplier states continue to give away or sell at a discount hundreds of thousands of surplus light weapons that end up in the wrong hands.

    In some cases, such as Somalia, these weapons are then used against U.S. peace-keeping forces that are sent to restore civil order. In other cases, such as Bosnia, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the United States and the international community will spend billions of dollars in peace-keeping and economic reconstruction when a more restrictive policy on light weapons transfers might have prevented or diminished the intensity of civil conflict in these countries.

    As the international community is beginning to recognize, the humanitarian and development benefits of cutting the link between light weapons availability and civil conflict would be substantial. For the United States, the economic benefits of the light weapons trade are exceedingly minor compared to the ultimate costs of having to rescue "failed states," provide for millions of refugees, and reconstruct societies torn apart by genocide and ethnic strife. The savings inherent in preventing or greatly limiting conflict in even one Rwanda, Bosnia or Liberia would greatly outweigh the minimal political and economic benefits of being an indiscriminate light weapons supplier.

    In sum, increased attention to the lethal effects of easily available small arms and light weapons on the part of humanitarian relief agencies, national governments, international organizations and the media is translating into a greater public appreciation of the need to better control the production, supply and diffusion of these weapons.

    Admittedly, the problem is incredibly complex and policies to control and regulate these weapons will not come easily. Nonetheless, the scale of death and injury caused by light weapons is such that the international community must continue to search for effective means of controlling and reducing the lethal commerce of small arms and light weapons around the world.


    NOTES

    1. Major wars are those with at least 1,000 deaths per year, though most of these conflicts have resulted in far more fatalities and wounded. See 1996 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute, Stockholm: SIPRI, 1996.

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    2. See "Small Arms and Light Weapons: The Epidemic Spread of Conflicts," Conversion Survey 1997, Bonn: Bonn International Center for Conversion, 1997.

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    3. Steven Holtzman, "Post-Conflict Reconstruction," Environmental Department, Work in Progress, The World Bank, Social Policy and Resettlement Division, 1996, p. 1.

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    4. See The Economist, May 16, 1998, p. 47.

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    5. Keith Krause, "Constraining Conventional Arms Proliferation: A Model for Canada," Multilateral Approaches to Non-Proliferation, Andrew Latham, ed., Toronto: York University, 1996, p. 57.

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    6. Swadesh Rana, Small Arms and Intra-State Conflicts, New York: United Nations, 1995, p. 4.

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    7. See Virginia Hart Ezell, "Small Arms Proliferation Remains Global Dilemma," National Defense, January 1995, pp. 26–27.

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    8. See Lethal Commerce: The Global Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, Jeffrey Boutwell, Michael T. Klare and Laura W. Reed, eds., Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1995, p. 9.

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    9. "Report of the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms," Report #A/52/298, from the Secretary General to the UN General Assembly, August 27, 1997.

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    10. "Measures to Regulate Firearms for the Purpose of Combatting Illicit Trafficking in Firearms," United Nations Economic and Social Council, Vienna, July 28, 1998.

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    11. UN Report in response to Security Council Resolution 1013, September 7, 1995, pp. 18–19; see also the "Interim Report of the International Commission of Inquiry (Rwanda)," S/1998/777, August 19, 1998.

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    12. "Report of the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms," August 27, 1998.

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    13. See "Factsheet: ACDA Outlines U.S. Policy on Small Arms Issues," August 11, 1998, Washington, DC.

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    Jeffrey Boutwell is director of international security studies at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Michael Klare, a member of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors, is director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hamphire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This article is adapted from the authors' chapter in Light Weapons and Civil Conflict: Controlling the Tools of Violence, Jeffrey Boutwell and Michael Klare, eds., forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield, spring 1998.

    Posted: December 31, 1969

    Britain Releases Defense Review Calling for a 'Minimum Deterrent'

    Craig Cerniello

    ON JULY 8, Britain released a new Strategic Defence Review (SDR), the Labor government's first comprehensive assessment of British security requirements through 2015. Released as a "white paper" (a policy document), the review concluded that while there is "no direct military threat to the United Kingdom or Western Europe," the country's "minimum deterrent remains a necessary element of [its] security." But, the paper stated, "We have concluded that we can safely make further significant reductions from Cold War levels, both in the number of weapons and in our day-to-day operating posture."

    Currently, the Royal Navy's fleet of three Vanguard-class (Trident) ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) comprises the country's nuclear deterrent force. (In March, the Royal Air Force withdrew from service the last of its WE-177 nuclear gravity bombs.) According to the review, Britain will maintain four SSBNs, the same force envisioned by the previous government. The HMS Vanguard, HMS Victorious and HMS Vigilant are now in service; the fourth boat, HMS Vengeance, is expected to be commissioned around the year 2000. Britain expects that the Trident force will meet its nuclear deterrence requirements for the next 30 years.

    The SDR concluded that Britain needs a nuclear stockpile of less than 200 operationally available warheads—some 100 fewer than the maximum level proposed by the previous Conservative government led by Prime Minister John Major. The new level represents more than a 70 percent reduction in the explosive power of Britain's operational force since the end of the Cold War. The SDR also determined that Britain does not need more than the 58 Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) that have already been delivered or ordered (seven fewer than the Major government proposed). Finally, the review also announced that only one SSBN will be kept on patrol at any given time (the United States keeps between eight and 11 of its 18 SSBNs on patrol), and that it will be armed with 48 warheads rather than the 96 announced by the previous government.

    During the Cold War, British SSBNs had the capability to fire nuclear weapons within minutes of receiving authorization. Under the new SDR, SLBMs will be "detargeted" and the submarines will be prepared to fire within a period of days. More advanced dealerting measures, such as taking submarines off at-sea patrol and removing warheads from their missiles, were examined during the SDR but rejected. "Ending continuous deterrent patrols would create new risks of crisis escalation if it proved necessary to sail a Trident submarine in a period of rising tension or crisis. The further step of removing warheads from missiles would also add a new vulnerability to our deterrent posture. This is a particular concern given our reduction to a single nuclear system," the report said.

    In the SDR, Britain became the first nuclear-weapon state to disclose the total composition of its defense fissile material stocks, declaring a stockpile of 7.6 metric tons of plutonium, 21.9 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and 15,000 metric tons of other forms of uranium. Although the United States has provided a more detailed breakdown of its plutonium stocks, it has not yet declared its stocks of HEU.

    Posted: December 31, 1969

    CFE Compliance Report Issued; Treaty Adaptation Talks Continue

    Wade Boese

    RUSSIA, UKRAINE, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan are not in compliance with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, according to an administration report submitted June 22 to Congress. Violations range from holdings of treaty-limited equipment (TLE) in excess of CFE ceilings to denial of full access during treaty inspections. The report, however, concludes that the compliance issues are not "militarily significant." Russia and Ukraine, which have the largest holdings among the Eastern bloc of countries, remain within their overall treaty limits.

    The 1990 CFE Treaty imposed equal numerical limits on five categories of heavy conventional weapons—tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft and attack helicopters—that NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries could deploy and store between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Countries derived national limits from their respective group limit, and a concentric-zone structure further restricted where TLE could be deployed. Although the accord's original bloc limits remain, the current 30 states-parties are seeking to adapt the treaty to Europe's post-Cold War security environment.

     

    Non-Compliance Findings

    According to the annual compliance report, mandated by the Senate, Russia has never included equipment held by the Presidential Guard Regiment, which the United States claims is covered by the treaty, in data exchanges. Under the treaty, even if a military unit is considered an internal security force, any tanks, artillery and armored infantry fighting vehicles (a sub-limit within the ACV category) it holds should be counted against a country's TLE limits. Moreover, Russia excluded over 180 ACVs from its July 1997 data exchange by marking the equipment as ambulances.

    Although Russia and Ukraine are "well below" limits on TLE held by naval infantry and coastal defense forces, the two states have failed to fulfill a separate June 1991 commitment by the Soviet Union—which they have assumed—to reduce 933 tanks, 1,725 ACVs and 1,080 artillery pieces. To date, Russia has completed over half of this shared reduction obligation, and with the November 1997 division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet assets between Russia and Ukraine, it is expected that the pledged reductions can now be completed.

     

    Former Soviet Equipment

    Ukraine has also declared an increasing amount of TLE as "awaiting export" (from 0 in 1992 to over 700 items in 1997), a category that exempts arms from treaty limits. The report called the increase a "trend that bears watching," but noted that it does not appear that Kyiv is using the equipment as a stockpile for replacement and modernization. Meanwhile, Belarus claimed almost 300 tanks as "awaiting export" in 1996 and then exchanged almost 150 for those in active units, thereby raising questions as to whether the equipment is actually intended for export. Minsk, along with Russia, also denied full access during some inspections of its TLE holding sites.

    Azerbaijan had exceeded its overall CFE limits by 316 items, according to its own December 1997 data submission, and is cited by the report as having never declared a reduction liability despite acknowledging receipt of weapons from Russia and Ukraine that would imply responsibility for reductions of at least 1,000 TLE items. Baku also suspended CFE-mandated notifications for changes of 10 percent or more in TLE assigned to units. Until the conflict over the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is resolved, Azerbaijan maintains that it will not begin "disarmament."

    A Russian investigation in 1997 disclosed that Armenia illegally received 84 tanks, 50 ACVs and 116 artillery pieces from Russia that neither country reported in its CFE data. Although claiming to have reduced all excess TLE, Armenia did not carry out the reductions according to verifiable CFE provisions and has been accused by Azerbaijan of holding undeclared TLE in Nagorno-Karabakh.

    The issue of unclaimed equipment remains a significant factor in resolving a difference of approximately 2,100 TLE items between what the Soviet Union would have had to declare as its reduction liabilities and what the eight former Soviet republics now party to the CFE Treaty have notified. This and other compliance issues have been brought before the Vienna-based Joint Consultative Group (JCG), the governing body of the treaty, for discussion.

     

    NATO Offers Proposal

    In July 1997, CFE parties agreed to replace the treaty's bloc and concentric zone structures with a system of national and territorial ceilings. National ceilings would limit a country's TLE holdings in all five categories of weaponry, while territorial ceilings would limit the amount of ground-based TLE (both national equipment and that stationed by other states) permitted on a country's territory. The parties also agreed to negotiate provisions allowing territorial ceilings to be exceeded for notified military exercises, temporary deployments and United Nations or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) peace-keeping operations.

    On June 23, NATO put forward a proposal at the JCG that would limit temporary deployments within the treaty's so-called "flank" zone, where Russia claims serious security concerns. (See ACT, May 1997.) Under the proposal, Russia and the other "flank" states would be limited to 153 tanks, 241 ACVs and 140 artillery pieces, while states-parties outside of the zone would be permitted temporary deployments of up to 459 tanks, 723 ACVs and 420 artillery pieces in excess of territorial ceilings. There would be no time restrictions on temporary deployments, but any exceeding zone ceilings would be subject to additional transparency measures and an enhanced notification requirement. NATO also advanced measures for adapting the verification regime. While Russia made no formal response or counter-proposal at the JCG before a summer recess (which began July 25), a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman on July 7 called the proposals "very one-sided," according to a Reuters report.

    Negotiations to adapt the CFE Treaty have been underway in the JCG since January 1997. In the past, states-parties indicated they would like to see an adapted treaty in place before NATO's expected acceptance of new members in April 1999, but U.S. officials caution that there is no need to rush completion for any "artificial deadlines." The recently released British Strategic Defence Review noted that the negotiations are "likely to last well into 1999."

    Posted: December 31, 1969

    Britain, France Propose EU Code of Conduct

    European Union (EU) members began consideration of a proposed arms sales code of conduct within the EU Council of Ministers' working group COARM on February 17. The proposal, drafted by Britain and France, lists eight broad criteria which EU members should take into account when making arms export decisions.

    Under the proposed code, members are expected to refuse an export request for military equipment or dual-use goods (when the end user is suspected to be the armed forces or internal security forces) if the request is "inconsistent" with international obligations such as arms embargos and treaty commitments and if there is a risk that the equipment might be used for "internal repression," prolonging an existing conflict, used "aggressively" against another country or re-exported to a third country. A requesting country's human rights record is to be considered, as well as economic factors such as external debt and economic and social development.

    EU members are to inform all other members of an export denial and its underlying rationale. If another member decides to make an "essentially identical" export within three years of a refusal, that member must only notify and consult the state that issued the original refusal.

    Although the code claims to have the aim of "setting high common standards for arms exports," the code would not be legally binding and the final export decision would remain a matter of national discretion.

    Posted: December 31, 1969

    United States Remains on Top Of UN Conventional Arms Register

    AS IN PREVIOUS years, the 1996 UN Register of Conventional Arms, released on October 17, continued to be hampered by a lack of participation and inconsistencies in national submissions. Prior to the release of the final 1996 declarations, the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the UN Register highlighted the regime's shortcomings in a report endorsed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, but proposed few solutions to remedy the register's ills.

    The register, designed to promote transparency in armaments, publishes information voluntarily submitted by states on their imports and exports in seven categories of conventional weapons—battle tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. States are also invited to provide additional data on their military holdings and their procurement through national production, but less than one third (largely European countries) of the 90 reporting states volunteered information beyond the seven categories.

    The 26 members of the GGE, selected by the UN Center for Disarmament Affairs to review the register's operation and explore its future development, met for three 1997 sessions (March 3 7, June 16 27 and August 4 15), but failure to achieve consensus on substantive changes to the register limited it to reporting its observations.

    Participation in the register declined to 90 states from 96 in 1995. The GGE noted that at least 90 countries have participated each year and during the first five years of the register's operation 138 states have submitted at least one report, while 49 countries have never participated. As in past years, the leading exporters submitted reports while key importing states of the Middle East did not; only Israel and Iran participated from the Middle East. Exporting states claimed that 2,568 weapons were delivered to non participating states in the region in 1996, of which the overwhelming amount went to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

    The United States retained the distinction of being the top exporter, although its 1996 exports amounted to only 48 percent of 1995's. U.S. exports in 1996 totaled 2,342 pieces of equipment as opposed to the previous year's total of 4,843. (See table below. [Not available in web form at this time, please contact ACA for more information]) A 1995 transfer of 2,208 missiles and missile launchers to Greece accounted for much of the discrepancy between the two years.

    Russia and Germany, the second and third leading exporters, respectively, in 1995, also reported fewer exports in 1996. Russia's total exports declined from 708 total items in 1995 to 544 in 1996, while Germany's total exports dropped 50 percent to 187. The United Kingdom surpassed Germany, more than doubling exports to 509 in 1996. China and France also increased their exports from 1995, but their reported exports were still relatively low at 137 and 136 items, respectively, in 1996. Other notable changes from 1995 involved an increase of 614 items exported from the Netherlands, of which 590 were ACVs to Egypt, and Turkmenistan's transfer of 1,271 pieces of equipment (mostly tanks and ACVs) to Russia, which Russian data did not confirm.

    A total of 26 countries noted exports of 6,489 weapons, while 38 countries claimed imports totaling 3,720 weapons in the 1996 register. A mere 32 percent of the transactions were reported by both parties involved. For example, Hungary reported receiving 520 missiles and missile launchers from Russia, and Pakistan noted accepting 526 from the United States, but neither exporter declared these transactions. The GGE attributed such inconsistencies to the lack of a common definition of a transfer and differing national practices in reporting and processing transfers. In order to diminish inconsistencies between national submissions, the GGE recommended that each nation establish a point of contact to clarify and facilitate reporting and that the deadline for reporting be moved back from April 30 to May 31 to allow states more time to submit information.

    Resolving the major discrepancies will require greater participation, a goal the GGE characterized as of "paramount importance." However, the League of Arab States contends the register does not "adequately meet their security needs" and is "neither balanced nor comprehensive" in its present form. Arab states demand an expansion of the register's categories to include weapons of mass destruction and "high technology with military applications" to provide a more accurate portrayal of world military forces. Other developing states have lobbied for including small arms categories or at least an expansion of the existing categories, such as lowering the caliber of artillery systems from 100 millimeter to 75 millimeter to capture lighter weapons, which they consider more relevant to their security concerns. The GGE explored these proposals, but disagreed over whether to recommend such changes as feasible or useful.

    Egypt later presented, on October 27, a resolution to the UN First Committee calling for an expansion of the register to include weapons of mass destruction.

    Posted: December 31, 1969

    U.S. Buys Moldovan Aircraft to Prevent Acquisition by Iran

    THE UNITED STATES purchased 21 MiG 29 fighter aircraft from Moldova during October, pre empting Iran's efforts to acquire potential delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction. The capability of 14 of the Russian made aircraft to deliver nuclear weapons, although disputed by Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, allowed the acquisition to be carried out under the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program.

    Under an agreement finalized on October 10, the United States acquired 14 MiG 29Cs, described by U.S. officials as wired to permit delivery of nuclear weapons, six MiG 29As, one MiG 29B, 500 air to air missiles and all the spare parts and diagnostic equipment present at the Moldovan air base where the aircraft were stationed. In return, Moldova will receive a cash payment, humanitarian assistance and non lethal excess defense articles such as trucks. Although the value of the package was not disclosed, Reuters reported on November 5 that Moldovan Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan said the cash payment equaled about $40 million. New aircraft of comparable capabilities cost approximately $20 million to $25 million apiece.

    The MiG 29Cs would have qualitatively improved Iran's air force by providing it with a more advanced fighter than its older model MiG 29s, a goal Tehran has sought since the Gulf War. With about 30 Russian made Su 24s, a sophisticated low altitude bomber, and both Scud and Scud variant missiles, Iran already possesses other systems more suited to deliver nuclear weapons than the MiG 29Cs.

    Moldova informed the United States in late 1996 of Iranian inquiries regarding the availability of the fighters and subsequently of an Iranian inspection of the aircraft. The Clinton administration, which considers Tehran to be vigorously pursuing the acquisition and development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, initiated negotiations with Moldova in February 1997 to prevent the sale.

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright certified Moldova (along with the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) on March 4, 1997, as eligible for the CTR program, which provides assistance to states of the former Soviet Union in implementing denuclearization initiatives, securing fissile materials and preventing proliferation. The United States and Moldova concluded on June 23 a CTR "umbrella" agreement authorizing future cooperative activities.

    According to a report in Ria Novosti, a Russian newspaper, Sergeyev claimed that the Soviet military had removed the "hardware" permitting delivery of nuclear weapons in 1989. The difference between the U.S. and Russian definitions of "nuclear capable" is apparently largely semantic, reflecting whether the appropriate arming hardware has to accompany the necessary connecting wiring for the equipment.

    In late October, U.S. crews partially dismantled the fighters and transported them aboard C 17 cargo jets to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where the fighters will be reassembled, analyzed and used for training purposes. The MiG 29Cs are the first ever obtained by the United States and U.S. officials expect these models will provide additional insights into the capabilities of the MiG 29 class, which remains an important element in the active air forces of many former Eastern bloc nations and their client states.

    Moldova retained six MiG 29C fighters, but intends to sell them to a state not considered "rogue" by the United States, thereby eliminating its entire air force in an effort to cut costs. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' The Military Balance 1997/98, the states of the former Soviet Union (not including Russia) currently have 284 MiG 29s in their active forces, but a Defense Department (DOD) official estimated that the newer model MiG 29Cs number in the "tens." DOD officials said the United States is not starting a MiG buying spree, but will continue to take steps to prevent rogue states from buying advanced weapons.

    Posted: December 31, 1969

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