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Missile Testing

Missile Testing

North Korea Extends Missile-Test Moratorium; U.S. to Send Kelly

North Korea Extends Missile-Test Moratorium; U.S. to Send Kelly

October 2002

By Paul Kerr

North Korea announced September 17 that it would indefinitely extend its moratorium on testing long-range missiles. Subsequently, the United States said September 26 that it would send an interagency delegation led by James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian-Pacific affairs, to Pyongyang October 3-5.

The North Korean pledge was part of the North Korea-Japan Pyongyang Declaration signed during a September 17 summit between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. According to the declaration, North Korea “expressed its will to extend its moratorium on missile tests beyond 2003.”

The country originally announced a halt to testing long-range missiles in September 1999, saying it would adhere to the moratorium as long as dialogue continued with the United States. The prospects for reaching an agreement to permanently halt North Korea’s missile program brightened when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim in October 2000. At that meeting, Kim promised not to test further the Taepo Dong-1 missile, which it had test-fired over Japan in August 1998 to considerable international alarm.

The Clinton administration subsequently came “tantalizing close” to a deal to eliminate North Korea’s medium- and long-range missiles and end its missile exports, according to Wendy Sherman, a Clinton adviser on North Korea policy. But an agreement was never reached, and after the Bush administration suspended negotiations in March 2001 pending a policy review, North Korea stated that it could not maintain the moratorium “indefinitely.” During a May 2001 meeting with a European Union delegation, however, Kim said North Korea would extend the moratorium until 2003.

A portion of the Japan-North Korea declaration also references nuclear weapons, saying only that the two countries “affirmed the pledge to observe all the international agreements for a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.” Whether this statement simply affirms a commitment to existing agreements or signals support for additional arms control measures is unclear.

The most relevant nuclear agreement is the Agreed Framework concluded in 1994 between North Korea and the United States. This agreement defused the crisis over Pyongyang’s diversion of plutonium from its graphite reactors as part of a secret nuclear weapons program—a violation of its nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitments. Washington agreed to construct two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors in North Korea in exchange for a freeze on the country’s nuclear weapons program and eventual dismantlement of its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities.

The United States recently expressed support for the deal when Jack Pritchard, State Department special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, attended the August 7 ceremony to mark the pouring of the concrete foundation for the first reactor to be supplied under the Agreed Framework.

Diplomatic Progress

Meanwhile, after months of discussing whether to send a U.S. envoy to North Korea, the United States has decided to send Kelly, who will be the highest level official to visit the country since President George W. Bush took office. A September 26 White House statement said that Kelly would “explain U.S. policy and seek progress on a range of issues of long-standing concern to the United States and the international community.”

According to a State Department official interviewed September 26, those issues include weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, human rights, humanitarian issues, and missile production and proliferation. This is consistent with the Bush policy of linking progress on missiles to other issues. Kelly will visit Seoul and Tokyo prior to the Pyongyang meeting to consult and coordinate with U.S. allies, the State Department official said.

Koizumi’s visit to North Korea—the first by a Japanese prime minister—suggests some positive signs for security in Northeast Asia. Kim and Koizumi committed “to observe international law and refrain from threatening mutual security” and agreed to meet again in October to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations. The two sides also agreed to discuss future economic cooperation initiatives, with the “understanding” that Japan will “render economic cooperation” to North Korea.

The meeting also made important progress toward resolving several other controversial bilateral issues. North Korea apologized for the kidnapping of a number of Japanese citizens over the past 25 years—a major source of friction between the two countries—and agreed to take measures to prevent future abductions. Japan apologized for its treatment of the Korean people during its colonial rule from 1910-1945.

Koizumi expressed cautious optimism about the meeting’s outcome in a September 17 press conference, stating “as long as the principles and spirit of the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration are sincerely abided by, relations between Japan and North Korea will begin to make great strides from hostile relations to cooperative relations.” He also quoted Kim as saying that “the doors are always open for dialogue” with the United States.

North Korea also praised the meeting’s outcome, calling the summit “a landmark event which paved the way for putting an end to the abnormal relations” between North Korea and Japan, the state-run Korean

China Reportedly Tests Air-to-Air Missile

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

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

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

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

Chinese Nuclear Forces to Grow, Report Says

Chinese Nuclear Forces to Grow, Report Says

September 2002

By Christine Kucia

Reinforcing recent intelligence reports on China’s strategic weapons development, the Pentagon released a report July 19 indicating that China is upgrading its nuclear forces and will increase the number of ICBMs that could be targeted at the United States.

Mandated by Congress in the 2000 National Defense Authorization Act, the Annual Report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China notes that China’s strategic weapons modernization “is improving its force, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in all classes of missiles.”

According to the report, China’s nuclear arsenal development could significantly bolster the number of Chinese ICBMs deployed by the end of the decade. Currently possessing around 20 ICBMs that could target the United States, China might have as many as 60 such ICBMs by 2010, the paper says. The Pentagon report is consistent with projections from other parts of the intelligence community.

In addition, China might enhance its nuclear deterrent by equipping some of its CSS-4 Mod 1 missiles, liquid-fueled ICBMs capable of hitting the mainland United States, with multiple warheads. The Pentagon report speculates that this change in the Chinese nuclear force might take place in response to U.S. plans to develop a missile defense system. (The CSS-4 is also known as the DF-5A.

An earlier report from the CIA also pointed to an increased number of nuclear warheads capable of reaching the United States. The December 2001 National Intelligence Estimate suggested that the Chinese ballistic missile force could target 75-100 warheads at the United States by 2015—a goal that could be achieved with fewer than 75 ICBMs if China develops multiple-warhead missiles.

Modernization of China’s nuclear arsenal also will yield both modified and new weapons, the report said. The CSS-4 Mod 1 will be replaced starting in 2005 with the longer-range CSS-4 Mod 2. In addition, deployment of the solid-fueled DF-31 (also known as the CSS-X-9), a mobile missile that could reach Alaska, could begin by mid-decade. Modified versions of the DF-31, as an extended-range ICBM and as a submarine-launched missile, could be added to China’s arsenal by 2010.

Sea-Based Missile Defense Scores Second Straight Hit

Sea-Based Missile Defense Scores Second Straight Hit

July/August 2002

By Wade Boese

The Pentagon may accelerate testing plans for a Navy theater missile defense system that scored its second straight hit of a ballistic missile target in a June 13 test.

In the test of the sea-based midcourse system, which is designed to destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles as they travel through space, a Navy ship launched a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) at an Aries ballistic missile target. The SM-3’s warhead, a kill vehicle that seeks out the target on its own, collided with and destroyed the Aries missile at an altitude of about 160 kilometers.

A spokesperson for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) described the latest test as “identical” to the preceding one, carried out in January. Prior to that test, the Pentagon had described it as “not operationally representative” and predicted that an intercept was “probable” because the SM-3 would be “aimed directly at the target.”

The June test marked the fifth of nine planned in the current developmental testing series, but the Pentagon is thinking about dropping the final four and starting a new, more difficult round of testing because the series’ objective of two intercepts has now technically been achieved. MDA Director Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish is expected to decide in the next few months on whether to move ahead with tougher testing or to finish up the current series.

Regardless of the general’s decision, the next test is expected to occur in November.

A new round of flight testing might include target warheads that separate from their booster rockets. The current Aries target remains in one piece and presents a much larger target than what the sea-based system is expected to encounter in a real-world scenario.

No plans exist for testing the naval system against strategic targets. Kadish estimated last summer that the system might first attempt such an intercept in 2007 or 2008, but that test could happen sooner if he speeds up the program’s testing.

MDA is planning to check whether the sea-based midcourse system’s ship-based radar can track a strategic target in an upcoming August test of the ground-based midcourse missile defense system. The ship-based radar will observe the test but is not expected to provide information to assist the interceptor.
The August event will mark the first time that the Pentagon will test if a ship-based radar can track a long-range ballistic missile because the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, from which the United States withdrew on June 13, prohibited such activity.

Two Pentagon reports within the past three years, however, concluded that the ship-based radar is not capable of supporting a strategic missile defense engagement. Both reports—one conducted by the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation and one by MDA’s predecessor, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization—asserted the radar’s detection and tracking abilities are too limited for effective use against long-range ballistic missiles.

At a June 25 Pentagon briefing, Kadish said that upgrading the sea-based system to handle strategic targets would “require more work and potentially new hardware.” Philip Coyle, who used to head the Pentagon’s office of operational test and evaluation, says that the Pentagon would need a missile twice as fast as the SM-3 to achieve sea-based intercepts of strategic targets.

While Kadish declared the Pentagon was working hard to field systems as soon as possible, he also underscored that there were limits to what could be accomplished. “You don’t try to make a Cadillac when [you] basically have the knowledge for a Model T,” explained the general.

Pakistan Tests Three Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles

Pakistan Tests Three Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles

June 2002

By Alex Wagner

Pakistan tested three different nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in May—its first tests since 1999. The tests come during a tense standoff between the Indian and Pakistani militaries over the disputed province of Kashmir, prompting international concern that if war breaks out, it could result in a nuclear exchange.

On May 24, Pakistani Information Minister Nisar Memon announced that his country would conduct a series of “routine” missile tests that were “part of technical requirements” and unrelated to the military confrontation in Kashmir. Islamabad gave advance notice of the tests to India, the United States, and several other regional and European states.

The following day, Pakistan flight-tested for the third time its 1,300-kilometer-range, liquid-fueled, road-mobile Haft-V missile, also known as the Ghauri. At a May 25 press conference, Memon said the test “reinforced the effectiveness and technical excellence of Pakistan’s indigenous missile technology.”

However, a December 2001 CIA report implied that the missile is actually a North Korean Nodong-1. Shortly after the test, Indian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao also disputed Pakistan’s claim that it had indigenously developed the missile, claiming, “Pakistan has acquired the technology and the material for its missiles program clandestinely.”

On May 26, Pakistan tested its 290-kilometer-range, solid-fueled, mobile Hatf-3 missile, a first for that particular missile, according to Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations Directorate. The directorate said the missile is also called the Ghaznavi, a name that the U.S. Defense Department has previously attributed to a 2000-kilometer, solid-fueled missile that is similar or perhaps identical to Pakistan’s Shaheen-2.

Two days later, Pakistan completed its testing series by firing a 180-kilometer-range, solid-fueled, mobile missile known as the Haft-2, or Abdali.

India responded with a quick but relatively muted reaction. At a May 24 press conference, Rao downplayed the forthcoming tests, saying they were “missile antics, clearly targeted at the domestic audience in Pakistan.” Rao added, “One fails to understand why Pakistan has chosen this moment to deplete one of the ready-made missiles in its stock.”

Even though the tests came at a time of high tension, the South Asian rivals appear to have abandoned their previous tit-for-tat missile-testing cycle. India has yet to respond to this series of tests with missile flight tests of its own, and Pakistan did not conduct tests in response to India’s January 2001 and January 2002 missile tests.

Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed “disappointment” at Pakistan’s decision to conduct missile tests amid such high tensions. In a May 26 interview on CNN’s Late Edition, Powell acknowledged that although the testing series “doesn’t seem to have caused the crisis to get any worse,” the region “just didn’t need this kind of activity at this time.”

Two days before Powell’s remarks, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the United States will “continue to urge both sides to take steps to restrain their missile programs and their nuclear weapons programs.” These steps could include not deploying operational nuclear-armed missiles and restarting a dialogue on “confidence-building measures that could reduce the likelihood that any such weapons ever be used.”

The two sides suspended this dialogue in May 1999, when a military altercation in the mountains above Kargil, Kashmir, heated up. According to a recent paper by Bruce Riedel, a senior director in the Clinton administration’s National Security Council, U.S. officials had received information that Pakistan’s military was preparing to arm its missiles with nuclear warheads during that crisis, without the knowledge of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Iran Conducts Fourth Shahab-3 Test

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foster Panel Calls for Reducing Nuclear Test Preparation Time

Philipp C. Bleek

A congressionally established panel presented its findings March 21, calling for the preparation time required before a U.S. nuclear test can be conducted to be substantially shortened.

Current test readiness time, defined as the period between a presidential order for a nuclear test and the time the Energy Department can actually carry out that test, is two to three years. But the Panel to Assess the Reliability, Safety, and Security of the United States Nuclear Stockpile—colloquially termed the “Foster panel” after its chairman, John Foster—says that test readiness should be reduced to between three months and one year.

The recommendation meshes with those contained in the Bush administration’s nuclear posture review, which said that the current test readiness time “may be too long.”

The Foster panel was established by the fiscal year 1999 Defense Authorization Act and tasked with preparing three annual reports assessing the state of the Energy Department’s stockpile stewardship program, which is intended to maintain the reliability and safety of U.S. nuclear weapons in the absence of nuclear testing. This is the panel’s final report.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Foster said the panel was unanimously recommending that the administration and Congress “support test readiness of three months to a year, depending on the type of test.” But Foster also noted that the recommendation was not driven by an “imminent” need to test, but rather “because prudence requires that every president have realistic options to test should technical or international events make it necessary.”

A congressional staff member close to the issue said the calls for shortening the test time were little more than “saber rattling,” saying that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a “meaningful test” within months. The staff member said that the administration should clarify its intentions and that recent “rhetoric” on the issue was “counterproductive.”

The Foster panel recommendation was foreshadowed in the panel’s previous report, which did not focus directly on test readiness but which suggested that a time “well below” one year was appropriate. (See ACT, April 2001.) The report also cited potentially serious shortcomings in the weapons complex and the stockpile stewardship program, issues that Foster indicated in his recent testimony had been at least partially addressed.

But Foster also warned that “major challenges remain,” citing an “atrophied” weapons complex and the “unprecedented technical challenge” of maintaining confidence in weapons as they are refurbished and modified.

The nuclear posture review says a revitalization of the nation’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is necessary “so that the United States will be able to adjust to rapidly changing situations,” including moves to “modify, upgrade, or replace” portions of the nuclear arsenal or to develop and deploy new weapons.

The posture review also hints at the need for a return to nuclear testing, stating, “Increasingly, objective judgments about [nuclear weapons] capability in a non-testing environment will become far more difficult.”

At the same time, administration officials have continued to emphasize that they do not foresee a return to testing in the near future and that the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile remains “safe, secure, and reliable,” as National Nuclear Security Administration head John Gordon told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee March 18.

Pentagon Researching New Booster For Missile Defense Program

Wade Boese

On March 4, the Boeing company, which is the lead contractor for the Pentagon’s ground-based midcourse missile defense program, selected Orbital Sciences Corporation to develop and test a booster rocket for possible use in the future system.

The booster is the part of the missile interceptor that carries the defense’s exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) into space, where the EKV seeks out an incoming target and tries to destroy it through a high-speed collision. In current intercept testing, the system employs a surrogate booster that accelerates much slower than the one expected to be used in a completed missile defense.

Boeing is developing its own booster for use in the missile defense system but has been plagued by development delays and a recent test failure. Scheduled to take place in February 2000, the first test of the booster did not occur until August 2001, roughly 18 months behind schedule. Although that test was viewed as a success, a second flight test of the booster failed less than 30 seconds after launch on December 13 of last year.

Boeing is continuing work on its own booster, which is tentatively scheduled for another flight test this summer, and an Orbital spokesman said that the first flight test of its booster is scheduled for sometime next year. It is uncertain when either booster may be incorporated into an actual intercept test, although one may be included after about five more intercept tries using the surrogate booster, according to a spokesman from the Missile Defense Agency, which manages U.S. missile defense efforts.

Orbital will receive approximately $400 million between 2002 and 2006 for initial research and development, with the possibility of an additional $535 million contract if its booster is approved for production and deployment. A March 4 Orbital press release noted that current plans call for a total of about 70 boosters to be built during the next seven years.

India Integrating Agni-2 Into Armed Forces

Alex Wagner

India’s medium-range, nuclear-capable Agni-2 ballistic missile has entered full-scale production and is being integrated into the Indian armed forces, according to a letter by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes dated March 14. It is not known whether the missile has been outfitted with a nuclear warhead.

In a written reply to a query posed by a member of the Indian parliament, Fernandes confirmed that the missile, most recently tested in January 2001, had “entered [the] production phase and is currently under induction.” After last year’s test, the Indian Defense Ministry stated that the missile had reached its “final operational configuration.” (See ACT, March 2001.)

Although Indian officials had stated after the January 2001 test that the missile would be introduced into the Indian arsenal later that year, the Defense Ministry later amended that estimate, noting that the planned “induction” would occur during 2001 or 2002.

The road-mobile, two-stage, solid-fueled Agni-2 is New Delhi’s most advanced missile system. It is capable of delivering a 1,000-kilogram payload more than 2,000 kilometers, allowing it to reach targets throughout Pakistan and much of western China.

India’s most recent missile test occurred in January 2002, when it tested a short-range variant of the Agni-1 missile. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Pentagon Tests Missile Defense Booster

On August 31, the Pentagon conducted the first flight test of the booster to be used in the proposed U.S. ground-based missile defense system. Boeing, the lead private contractor for the defense system, declared the long-delayed flight a success.

According to Boeing and the Pentagon’s Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs, the booster was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; its three stages separated properly; and it splashed down west of Hawaii after reaching a maximum altitude just shy of 500 kilometers. The booster test was originally supposed to take place in February 2000, but the schedule slipped repeatedly because of delays in development.

The test did not involve an intercept attempt, and the booster did not carry an exoatmospheric kill vehicle (EKV), which is the element of the proposed missile defense system that actually seeks out and collides with a target in outer space. In the four intercept tests of the defense system to date, the Pentagon has used a surrogate booster less powerful than the one tested August 31 to lift the EKV into space.

In this latest test, the booster carried a mass representative of an EKV, and sensors measured the stresses put on the mass by the booster’s acceleration. High-profile reviews of the Pentagon’s missile defense program during the Clinton administration questioned whether the EKV would be capable of withstanding the severe vibrations caused by the booster’s acceleration, which is significantly greater than that of the surrogate booster. A BMDO spokesperson said the data collected by the sensors showed the stresses were “well within the tolerances that the kill vehicle could stand up to.”

BMDO and Boeing reported the test had an “anomaly” involving the booster’s vehicle roll control, which helps stabilize the missile in flight. But the booster stayed on course despite the problem, a second BMDO spokesperson said.

The Pentagon is planning another booster flight test this December and may try to mate the booster with an EKV for an intercept attempt as soon as late 2002. The next intercept test employing the surrogate booster is tentatively scheduled for this November. Pentagon officials previously had said that the test would be in this October.


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