In 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that “no threat is more serious to aviation” than lightweight, guided, portable surface-to-air missiles known as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Since then, Powell’s words have been echoed by countless journalists, analysts, and government officials, who warn that a successful missile attack on a commercial airliner could kill hundreds of people and cripple the financially volatile airline industry. (Continue)
Taiwan’s legislature recently approved buying a dozen anti-submarine planes, a modest portion of an original $18 billion U.S. arms package offered six years ago. The purchase comes amid persistent U.S. questions about China’s military modernization and a new move to prevent American technology from aiding that drive.
Soon after taking office, President George W. Bush authorized selling Taiwan an array of weapon systems, including destroyers, diesel-electric attack submarines, and aircraft. (See ACT, May 2001.) Later, the United States added short- and medium-range anti-missile systems. Taiwan agreed to acquire four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, the final two of which were delivered last September. The rest of the package, however, became entangled in politics. (Continue)
Congress has yet to complete the raft of bills governing U.S. nuclear funding and policy for the next fiscal year, but the early returns are not promising for the Bush administration’s program to develop a new nuclear warhead. Lawmakers say they want long-term nuclear plans before new weapons. (Continue)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 7 proposal to share radar data on missiles with the United States might be an earnest offer, a cynical ploy to undercut U.S. plans to base anti-missile systems in Europe, or both. Regardless, U.S. leaders say they will continue their current missile defense approach despite strong Russian opposition. (Continue)
Five years ago at the signing ceremony for the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), President George W. Bush claimed the agreement “liquidates the Cold War legacy of nuclear hostility” between the United States and Russia. Think again. Although SORT calls for deeper reductions in deployed strategic nuclear warheads, to 1,700-2,200 each by 2012, it has not liquidated the weapons nor mutual nuclear suspicions.
The treaty’s emphasis on flexibility detracts from its predictability, lessening its value in building a more stable and secure U.S.-Russian relationship. Unlike the earlier Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) approach, SORT does not require the destruction of strategic delivery systems. SORT also allows each side to store nondeployed warheads. The treaty fails to establish new verification mechanisms, relying instead on those contained in START. (Continue)
Moscow and Washington recently initiated talks on what measures might follow the upcoming expiration of START, their landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty. Russia favors negotiating another treaty cutting strategic nuclear forces, but the United States prefers a less formal arrangement without weapons limits. (Continue)
As early as the end of May, the Air Force might start trimming the U.S. long-range nuclear ballistic missile force by 10 percent despite the objections of a few lawmakers. The service also is moving forward with plans to cut its nuclear-armed cruise missile fleet by approximately two-thirds. (Continue)