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"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
March 2018
Edition Date: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Cover Image: 

Trump Threatens Iran Deal Withdrawal


March 2018
By Kelsey Davenport

U.S. President Donald Trump set the stage for a new showdown over Iran sanctions in early May, putting pressure on Congress and Washington’s European partners to take action to address what he describes as “disastrous flaws” in the agreement.

In a Jan. 12 statement, Trump announced that he was waiving sanctions, as required to keep the United States in compliance with the deal, but he coupled that action with an ultimatum by saying he would not reissue the waivers again unless the deal is fixed. The next sanctions waivers are due around May 12.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on January 13 that President Trump is seeking to “undermine a solid multilateral agreement.” (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)The four “critical components” that Trump wants addressed include tying Iran’s ballistic missile program to its nuclear activities, extending limits on Iran’s nuclear program that are set to expire over time, ensuring Iran never gets close to development of a nuclear weapon, and allowing international inspectors immediate access to any site on request. Trump said that the waived U.S. sanctions should snap back immediately if Iran does not comply with the provisions he is pursing.

Under the terms of the nuclear deal, some limits on Iran’s nuclear program will expire in 10 to 25 years, whereas other provisions are permanent.

The nuclear deal does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, although the UN Security Council’s endorsement of the agreement declared limits on Iran’s ability to transfer ballistic missiles and components and called on the country to refrain from testing missiles designed to be nuclear capable. The deal does contain provisions outlining a process for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to request access to undeclared sites if there are concerns about illicit nuclear activity.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Jan. 13 that Trump’s statement amounts to a “desperate” attempt to “undermine a solid multilateral agreement” and is itself a violation of the nuclear deal. He called for the United States to come into “full compliance.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also rejected the U.S. approach. Moscow will not support any U.S. actions “changing the wording of the agreement,” he said. Russia was one of the P5+1 members (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran, but was not included in Trump’s request for a supplemental agreement.

Leaders from the three European countries that Trump called on to negotiate the “supplemental” agreement with the United States offered in October to work with the administration to address Iran’s ballistic missile program, but rejected any renegotiation of the nuclear deal. (See ACT, November 2017.) Those countries are France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

They did agree, however, to participate in joint working groups that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said will address the status of Iran’s nuclear program after certain limits expire and Iranian activities “not related to the nuclear program.”

Tillerson, speaking to reporters during a trip to the United Kingdom on Jan. 22, said that there is a “common view” with the Europeans that these areas need to be addressed. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson only confirmed that the European countries share U.S. concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The three European countries could work with the United States on the ballistic missile issue if it does not “vitiate the fundaments of the Iran nuclear deal,” Johnson said.

Tillerson said that the administration cannot “set timetables for others” but that the United States is under a deadline from Trump to produce results. An official from one of the three European states told Arms Control Today on Feb. 13 that the United States has not been clear about its expectations for the working groups or the results necessary for Trump to continue to waive sanctions.

Congressional reactions to Trump’s demand that Congress pass legislation to address his four areas of concern were mixed. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a Jan. 12 statement that he was working with the administration on a way to “address the flaws in the agreement without violating U.S. commitments.” Corker said it is an opportunity to reach a “better deal” that will “stand the test of time and actually prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.” He has yet to introduce any legislation.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of Trump’s announcement, said he was “open to legislation options that would not violate” the nuclear deal and is supported by Europe.

U.S. demands more constraints on Iran or else.

Chinese Analysts Urge Nuclear Increase


March 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Commentary in an official Chinese military newspaper called on China to strengthen its nuclear deterrent, although Chinese official statements and expert analysis downplay a more assertive nuclear weapons stance.

Two analysts at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, which informs China’s Central Military Commission, raised the prospect of an accelerating nuclear weapons program by China. “To enhance China’s strategic counterbalance in the region and maintain China’s status as a great power, and protect national security, China has to beef up and develop a reliable nuclear deterrence capability,” they wrote in PLA Daily, according to a translation by the South China Morning Post.

China displayed the DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade September 3, 2015 in Beijing. The silo-based missile, deployed in 2015, is reported to carry multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles. (Photo: Rolex Dela Pena - Pool /Getty Images)The commentary argued that both the development of new nuclear weapons proposed by the latest U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons modernization programs could create a need for an enhanced deterrent through an expanded Chinese nuclear force.

The PLA Daily “provides an outlet for more extreme views” within the PLA, Catherine Dill, a senior research associate with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told Arms Control Today in a Feb. 14 email. She noted that opinion pieces may not signal future military plans.

The United States asserted in a recent intelligence assessment and in its latest NPR report that China is already advancing and expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities. China is modernizing its nuclear missiles to “ensure the viability of China’s strategic deterrent by providing a second-strike capability,” according to the U.S. intelligence community’s worldwide threat assessment report, which was presented to Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13.

Twice in November 2017, China tested a DF-17, a medium-range ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle that could help it evade missile defenses. China continues to develop its submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and may be producing additional nuclear-powered submarines, according to the report.

China is “expanding its already considerable nuclear forces” and pursing “assertive military initiatives,” according to the NPR report. The NPR provides a rationale for the Trump administration’s plans to accelerate U.S. nuclear weapons programs.

But China’s modest nuclear force posture, official Chinese statements, and expert analysis all point to China rejecting an aggressive nuclear expansion. China maintains a small nuclear arsenal compared to those of Russia and the United States. Although a level of secrecy surrounds the Chinese nuclear arsenal, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in July 2017 estimated China has 270 nuclear warheads.

China also holds to a no-first-use policy, whereby it declares that it will only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack. The Chinese Defense Ministry reaffirmed that it follows this policy as recently as Feb. 4, when it also claimed that it would “resolutely stick to peaceful development and pursue a national defense policy that is defensive in nature.”

Other analysts doubt that China will pursue an arms buildup. Chinese military analyst Zhao Chenming told the South China Morning Post on Jan. 30 that China is too “pragmatic” to spend heavily on an arms race. In a Feb. 9 blog post, Gregory Kulacki, China project manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, underlined the defensive nature of Chinese nuclear forces, arguing that although China has the ability to engage in an arms race, it is “unlikely to do so.”

“[T]he piece does reflect general unease within China and the PLA about U.S. military plans,” Dill stated, adding that China will likely continue to focus on developing SLBM capabilities, long-range conventional strike systems, and missile defense assets.

But there is reason to doubt that the commentary signals a policy shift.

New Group Challenges CW ‘Impunity’


March 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

France launched an initiative to counter the use and proliferation of chemical weapons amid a recent spike of chemical attacks in Syria. About 25 countries attended the Jan. 23 launch ceremony in Paris for the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons and agreed to implement its declaration of principles.

“This initiative puts those who ordered and carried out chemical weapons attacks on notice: You will face a day of reckoning for your crimes against humanity, and your victims will see justice done,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in opening remarks.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks January 23 in Paris in support of the French initiative against the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria.  (Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)The partnership will facilitate information sharing, “name and shame” individuals and entities involved in chemical weapons attacks by publicizing their names on a website, and strengthen national accountability and enforcement efforts. France also imposed sanctions on individuals and entities linked to Syrian chemical weapons use.

Although the partnership intends to address chemical weapons threats globally, the emphasis during the ceremony was on Syria. There were six chemical attacks in Syria from early January to early February, according to a U.S. State Department press release Feb. 5. The day before the partnership’s launch, there were reports of a chlorine gas attack killing an estimated 20 civilians in East Ghouta, a rebel-held Damascus suburb.

A report is forthcoming by a fact-finding mission investigating recent alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Izumi Nakamitsu, UN high representative for disarmament affairs, told the Security Council on Feb. 5.

The new chemical weapons accountability initiative follows the breakdown late last year of a mechanism that identified chemical weapons users in Syria. In 2015 the Security Council adopted Resolution 2235, creating the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a collaborative effort between the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tasked with determining the culpable actor for verified chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The latest JIM report, in October 2017, found the Assad regime guilty of using sarin gas in an April 2017 attack and the Islamic State group responsible for using sulfur mustard in a September 2016 attack. The JIM’s mandate expired, and the body was forced to cease investigations in November 2017, after Russia blocked several attempts to extend the mandate and asserted that the JIM conclusions were inaccurate and politically biased. (See ACT, December 2017.)

In remarks at the launch ceremony, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized that the new group would not replace existing multilateral bodies, such as the JIM. Instead, the project would aim to “complement” their work by creating a “meaningful and operational instrument” in light of the obstructions encountered by existing bodies.

Although Russia was absent from the launch, U.S.-Russian animosity over chemical weapons use in Syria was not. In Paris, Tillerson chastised Moscow for shielding the Assad regime, asserting that “Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in East Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons.”

In New York just hours after the launch ceremony, Vassily Nebenzia, Russian ambassador to the UN, called an impromptu Security Council meeting, where he rejected U.S. criticism, called the French initiative an attempt “to create an anti-Damascus bloc through the proliferation of lies,” and introduced a proposal to extend the JIM mandate. Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the UN, dismissed the Russian proposal on the grounds that its terms were unacceptable and that it was intended as a distraction from the partnership launch.

France will chair the partnership this year, with plans to convene experts meetings to discuss progress on the implementation of the principles. Some experts have remarked on the uncertainty around the effort and the obstacles it may encounter to gain additional members.

The procedure for the partnership to determine its rules of operation are not yet clear. John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, wrote in a Feb. 8 article for the Lowy Institute that the partnership may have trouble reaching a “common understanding” between governments and civil society and among governments on the source and use of intelligence, as well as guidelines for the publication of information.

Hart observed that states may be unwilling to “become entangled” in a Russian-U.S. dispute or will lack the technical capacity to contribute intelligence to the partnership.

Western powers struggle against chemical weapons use by Russia’s ally, Syria.

Europeans Cut Saudi Arms Sales


March 2018
By Jeff Abramson

As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman planned visits to Washington and other Western capitals, a number of European countries cut or confirmed prior cessation of arms sales to his country and others fighting in the controversial Yemen war.

The actions by Germany, Norway, and the Walloon district of Belgium did not appear to alter the arms sales plans of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but did build on efforts by the European Parliament and others calling for an embargo on arms shipments to Saudi Arabia.

Yemenis inspect the damage at the site of air strikes in the Houthi-held city of Saada on January 6. (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)Since fighting began in 2015 between the Houthis, who now control Yemen’s capital, and a Saudi-led coalition backing ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the UN high commissioner for human rights has documented more than 15,000 civilian casualties and noted in February that hostilities were increasing, with all sides responsible for the high civilian toll. In January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than three-quarters of the population, some 22 million people, were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Recognizing the dire humanitarian situation, the European Parliament adopted resolutions in 2016 and 2017 calling for an arms embargo on the Saudis, citing in a Nov. 30 resolution that “dozens of Saudi-led airstrikes have been blamed for indiscriminately killing and wounding civilians in violation of the laws of war.” Although those resolutions were not binding, a number of European countries have announced policies that reflect concern about further arming Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. A 2015 UN Security Council resolution already bans weapons supplies to the Houthis.

Germany announced in January that it would no longer sell arms to parties fighting in Yemen, a policy change struck as part of efforts to form a new coalition government. Germany in 2016 authorized licenses for the export of “war weapons” to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates valued at 21 million and 13 million euros, respectively, according to a German government report. “Military equipment” licenses, which are broader than just weapons, were valued at 530 million and 169 million euros.

On Jan. 3, Norway announced that it would no longer export arms and ammunition to the UAE, based on “a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Yemen and the increasing risks” associated with UAE military engagement there. The announcement also confirmed Norway’s pre-existing ban on export of arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia.

Also in January, Belgian media reported the Walloon region had stopped granting licenses to export weapons to the Saudi Ministry of Defense. Quoting Willy Borsus, minister-president of the Walloon government, the reports cited risks of Walloon weapons being turned against civilians in Yemen. Licenses to the Saudi Royal Guard and Saudi National Guard would continue because those groups do not conduct military operations outside the country, according to the accounts of Borsus’ statements. The Walloon region of Belgium, which is able to make independent decisions on arms licenses, is home to firearms manufacturer FN Herstal S.A. In the past, Saudi Arabia has accounted for a large share of Walloon arms sales.

Belgium, Germany, and Norway are states-parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which includes provisions against selling weapons where they can be expected to be used to commit abuses. Advocates have been pushing treaty members to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but states have generally resisted such direct conversation at their annual meetings. (See ACT, October 2017.)

Preparatory committee meetings begin this month for the fourth ATT Conference of States-Parties, which will be held Aug. 20-24 in Tokyo. Whether greater attention will be paid to the topic remains to be seen.

France and the UK, also treaty members, have continued to sell arms into the region and reportedly will be visited soon by the Saudi crown prince. He is expected to tout civil liberties and anti-corruption efforts, but arms sales discussions are likely. His UK visit reportedly was delayed to this month due to anticipated protests about his role in the Yemen war.

The 32-year-old crown prince, who is a son of the current Saudi king and is his designated successor, is expected to visit Washington as soon as this month. The Trump administration has shown a continued willingness to arm Riyadh, most recently with the Jan. 17 notification of a potential $500 million sale to support Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile defense system. The United States is an ATT signatory.

The Saudis are criticized for the number of civilian casualties in Yemen war.

U.S. May Ease Arms Export Rules


March 2018
By Jeff Abramson

The Trump administration is expected to unveil changes to U.S. conventional arms transfer policies and rules that could speed arms exports.

In January, Reuters reported that the administration is working on a “Buy American” plan that would include a push to sell U.S. weapons abroad and steps to amend export controls. Nothing has been publicly presented by the administration, but revisions to presidentially declared conventional arms transfer policies, as well as rules on the exports of firearms and ammunition, are likely to be among the first changes proposed.

Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation on January 10 to prevent the Trump administration from changing export rules on firearms, close-assault weapons, and certain other weapons and ordnance. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)President Barack Obama last updated U.S. conventional arms transfer policies in January 2014 when he issued Presidential Policy Directive 27. (See ACT, March 2014.) The directive set out 10 goals to be considered and a process and set of criteria for making arms transfer decisions. Although the directive does not weigh one goal against another, it does explicitly identify the concept of supporting arms transfer “restraint” as central and refers many times to avoiding transfers to those who would commit or facilitate human rights abuses.

Whether restraint and human rights factors are adequately maintained in a new presidential directive will be closely examined given Trump’s enthusiastic support for arms sales as job generators and his willingness to conclude deals that the Obama administration had withheld due to human rights concerns involving Bahrain, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. (See ACT, October 2017.)

The changes may also include revisions to how the United States treats firearms and ammunition exports. An export control reform process during the Obama administration proposed or enacted changes to 18 of the 21 categories of major weapons and technology controlled under the United States Munitions List, administered by the State Department, moving many items to the arguably less-restrictive Commerce Control List, administered by the Commerce Department. A core rationale for this effort was “building higher fences around fewer items,” and those fewer items were ones that tended to be technologically advanced and give the United States a unique military advantage.

Changes to the first three categories, covering firearms, close assault weapons and combat shotguns, and guns and armaments and their ordnance were drafted but never made public. Concerns exist that Commerce Department control could lead to more U.S. weapons ending up in the hands of unintended users, loss of the ability to prosecute arms smugglers, decreased transparency, and lessened congressional oversight of the arms trade. It is anticipated that those changes would soon be published for review.

In September 2017, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote a cautionary letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Combat firearms and ammunition are uniquely lethal; they are easily spread and easily modified, and are the primary means of injury, death, and destruction in civil and military conflicts throughout the world,” they wrote. “As such, they should be subject to more—not less—rigorous export control and oversight.”

On Jan. 10, Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution that would maintain the existing categorizations. “Our priority should be to make sure that firearms do not end up in the wrong hands,” Torres said, adding that “the responsibility of the Department of Commerce is to promote job creation and economic growth, not assess national security threats.”

The Trump administration is expected to unveil changes to U.S. conventional arms transfer policies and rules that could speed arms exports.

Indian ICBM Passes Test


India's Agni-5 missile is displayed during a rehearsal for the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 23, 2013.  (Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)India successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Agni-5, for the fifth time. The Jan. 18 test was the first of two reported tests to be completed before the missile can enter service. The missile previously completed four successful “developmental” tests. A defense ministry statement declared that the test “reaffirms the country’s indigenous missile capabilities and further strengthens our credible deterrence.” Indian President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted his support, claiming that it “will boost our strategic defence.”

The Agni-5, first tested in 2012, is India’s first ICBM. With a range of more than 3,100 miles, analysts assess that the missile is being developed to deter China. Officially, China was silent on the launch, but the state-owned Global Times wrote on Jan. 18 that the test “poses a direct threat to China’s security as well as a big challenge to the global efforts of nuclear nonproliferation.” India also tested the Prithvi-2, Agni-2, and Agni-1 missiles in February.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Indian ICBM Passes Test

U.S., Russia Meet New START Limits


The United States and Russia met their obligations under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) by the February 2018 deadline. The treaty required each country, using agreed counting rules, to reduce its strategic nuclear stockpiles to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads and bombs, along with 700 deployed and 800 total delivery vehicles by Feb. 5, 2018.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Feb. 5 that the country had 1,444 warheads, with 527 deployed and 779 total delivery vehicles. In a State Department press release Feb. 22, the United States said it had 1,350 warheads, with 652 deployed and 800 total delivery vehicles. Since the treaty entered into force in 2011, the countries have exchanged more than 14,700 notifications related to the location, movement, and disposition of nuclear weapons and conducted 252 on-site weapons inspections.

In its press release, however, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. commitment to New START, stating that the United States had reconfigured several Trident II submarine ballistic missile launchers and B-52H bombers in such a way that it “could not confirm that these strategic arms have been rendered incapable of employing nuclear armaments” in accordance with treaty procedures. Russia also accused the United States of “arbitrarily” converting some underground missile launch facilities into indistinguishable “training launch facilities.”

New START expires Feb. 5, 2021, but may be extended until 2026 under the treaty terms. Its future is murky, given President Donald Trump’s denunciation of the agreement as “one sided.” (See ACT, March 2017.) Russia’s interest in an extension may be waning, with an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing skepticism about negotiating in light of tense relations.—RYAN FEDASIUK

U.S., Russia Meet New START Limits

Aegis Missile Interceptor Fails Test


The Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA, the latest in the line of U.S. interceptor missiles designed for the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, failed to hit its target in its third intercept test on Jan. 31 after being launched from the Aegis Ashore test site in Hawaii. At a Feb. 1 press briefing, Pentagon spokesperson Dana White confirmed that the test “did not meet our objectives.” A Missile Defense Agency (MDA) statement later that day, however, said that “much was still learned that demonstrated an increase in the effective range” of the overall ballistic missile defense system.

At a Feb. 12 press briefing, Gary Pennett, MDA director of operations, said officials had isolated the failure to the missile itself rather than any sensor or control system in the “engage on remote” apparatus. This was the second failure in three intercept tests of the missile, which is currently being developed jointly by Raytheon Co. and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The system is set to begin deployment this year on U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships, as well as at an Aegis Ashore site in Poland as part of the third phase of the so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach. (See ACT, June 2016.) This latest failure raises questions about whether the current deployment schedule can be met.

The Block IIA is a larger and faster version of previous SM-3 missiles. It boasts an improved range and was designed to engage medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the midcourse phase of flight.—MACLYN SENEAR

Aegis Missile Interceptor Fails Test

India Joins Australia Group


India became the Australia Group’s 43rd member on Jan. 19, following a consensus decision at the group’s June 19 plenary. The Australia Group is dedicated to preventing the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons through voluntary export controls. It is the third nonproliferation consortium India has joined in the past two years, after the Wassenaar Arrangement, a conventional weapons export control regime, in December 2017 and the Missile Technology Control Regime, a group committed to limiting the spread of missiles and related technology, in June 2016. (See ACT, January/February 2018.)

“With its admission into the Australia Group, India has demonstrated the will to implement rigorous controls of high standards in international trade, and its capacity to adapt its national regulatory system to meet the necessities of its expanding economy,” according to a Jan. 19 Australia Group press release. Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a Jan. 19 news briefing that the accession would help “establish…credentials” for India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which restricts the spread of nuclear technology. India has publicly stated its desire to join the NSG, although China blocked its last attempt in June 2016. (See ACT, July/August 2016.)—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

India Joins Australia Group

Qatar Displays Chinese Missile

Qatar riled its Persian Gulf neighbors when it displayed a previously unseen, Chinese-made short-range ballistic missile system at a military parade. The sale of the missiles had not been public knowledge until they were spotted on transporter-erector launchers in a Dec. 17 rehearsal for the Qatar National Day Parade. Joseph Dempsey, a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, recognized the missiles, which he highlighted in a series of Twitter posts. In an observation confirmed by other analysts, he noted that the two eight-axle launcher vehicles in the parade appeared to be configured to carry BP-12A ballistic missile canisters, although they could alternatively carry eight canisters for the smaller, related SY-400 missile.

Members of Qatar's armed forces march in national day celebrations December 18, 2017. The parade reportedly included a previously unseen, Chinese-made short-range ballistic missile system.  (Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)Officials from the China National Precision Machinery Import/Export Corp. marketed the BP-12A at an international arms show in 2012 as having a range up to 280 kilometers (173 miles) and a payload capability of 480 kilograms. The SY-400 is believed to have a similar or slightly shorter range and roughly half the payload capability. The sale of the BP-12A does not appear to violate the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which urges its 35 members to restrict exports of missile technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers.

China’s bid to join the MTCR was rejected in 2004 due to concern that Chinese entities were continuing to provide missile technology to North Korea, although at the time Beijing voluntarily pledged to follow the regime’s export control guidelines and has since generally tightened its export controls. In recent years, China has increasingly marketed and sold the SY-400 and other missile systems to foreign customers, particularly in the Middle East.

The reveal of the missile sale comes amid a months-long dispute between Qatar and other gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where media outlets complained that Qatar’s new missiles potentially could strike targets in their countries. Saudi Arabia also has secretly purchased ballistic missiles from China.—MACLYN SENEAR

Qatar Displays Chinese Missile

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